You may work alone, or as a part of a national level mortgage origination team. Either way, you are probably aware of the importance of a healthy company culture. Defining company culture is difficult and can mean vastly different things depending on the company, industry, or specific office. However, creating a healthy company culture as a loan origination team is critical to the team’s success and long-term employee satisfaction.
If you’re wondering if you can create company culture during social distancing and work from home, don’t worry! A team can be completely remote and still have incredible culture.
What is company culture?
As mentioned above, there are many ways you could define company culture. However, this article in Forbes notes company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits, as defining factors in a company’s culture.
Still confused? Ask yourself about how your company dynamic affects the people in your business. For example, how do employees speak about your company? Are they generally satisfied and fulfilled by their jobs? What is the employee turnover rate as compared to similar companies?
The following questions can help you gauge how your company is doing in developing its company culture.
Why should you care about company culture?
Okay, so now you know a bit more about what company culture is. Now, you may be wondering why we even need to be talking about. “Of course, I’d love my company to have great company culture. So what?”
Company culture goes way beyond employee happiness and satisfaction. Happiness also fuels productivity: happy employees are up to 12% better workers. And who doesn’t want their employees or coworkers to be both happier and more productive?
Similarly, if a company’s culture is strong, employee turnover rates will naturally decline. This is especially important for the mortgage industry. Loan officers have a much shorter than average job tenure, clocking in at just 2.29 years per job. Compared to the country’s overall average of 4.4 years per job, that’s a noticeable difference. These high turnover rates mean more money spent on recruiting, hiring, and training. Plus, it’s difficult to create an efficient workplace if you are constantly having to train new employees.
Although it’s difficult to summarize in statistics why creating a healthy company culture is important to a business’ success, there is no doubt that it is.
What is your role in creating a great work environment?
You may be in a position to enact lasting change at your company (we’re looking at you, branch managers). Or, you may feel like just another cog in the machine. No matter your position, you do have a role to play in your company culture.
The suggestions we make in the remainder of this article aren’t just for the “higher ups” of the country’s biggest mortgage companies. They also apply to the LOA who just got into the industry, or the loan officer who started their own small shop and works alone the majority of the time.
How do you create a great company culture?
Okay, it’s time to get down to it: how do you actually create a healthy company culture? These ideas range from small everyday changes, to large institutional level decisions, so don’t get overwhelmed. Choose a few things to start with, and see how your coworkers or employees respond!
Encourage diversity through your hiring practices
There’s a drastic difference between hiring to fulfill quotas, and hiring from diverse backgrounds to encourage success. It’s been proven that diverse teams outperform their non-diverse counterparts. In fact, racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%.
There are many different ways to institute more diverse hiring practices. One such option is to implement blind applications. These types of job applications involve hiring managers not having a candidate’s name on their resume while they consider whether to call them in for an interview. Although a hiring practice such as this may require some extra time and energy, the result is a more diverse workforce. Not only will this improve business success, it will also increase overall employee satisfaction.
Institute a culture of continued learning
When asked, one of the most commonly given reasons for being less than satisfied in a job is a lack of professional development and growth opportunities. Additionally, companies who invest in comprehensive training have a 24% higher profit margin than companies who do not. Clearly, encouraging a culture of intellectual curiosity pays off!
So, what does that mean for you? Well, on the leadership level, making an effort to invest in a culture of continued learning is a great place to start. Perhaps you incentivize earning a college degree. Or, you could offer PTO or stipends for employees who pursue professional certifications.
The importance of job training
One of the best ways to prioritize education is by recognizing that job training extends beyond just the first few weeks in a new position. If your company, for example, institutes a new software system, training all relevant employees isn’t just a recommendation, it should be a requirement. Creating a dedicated block of time for training encourages deeper learning and may uncover features and workflows that will benefit the overall productivity of the team. Another tactic is setting recurrent dates and times for company wide training meetings. A monthly or quarterly all team meeting keeps employees informed and connected.
If you’re a single loan officer in a small shop, or you are “just” another employee, don’t think that this suggestion doesn’t apply to you! We wrote an entire article on ways that loan officers can continue their professional education, and many of the resources are completely free.
Focus on creating an environment of open communication
Although this is a difficult habit to fully bring into your company, open communication is one of the best indicators of a team’s success., Expressing ideas, projects, and expectations clearly should be a priority between employees, between departments, and between leadership and the people they manage.
As you develop your company culture, finding ways to encourage open communication will present themselves naturally. If you’re in a position of leadership, a portion of great communication is informing your employee when problems arise. It can be tempting to simply try to push issues under the rug, however, being up front is key.
If you work for a small team or you work alone, communication is still just as critical! That may mean quickly and openly informing professional partners about the status of various projects. Or informing your branch manager if you’re struggling with a specific loan.
Recognize the importance of innovation in your company’s success
Doing the same thing you’ve always done will never be the way to create a thriving company culture. Yes, past successes have created a foundation for where you are today, but it’s also important to recognize that innovation can work wonders. Listening to suggestions that employees or your coworkers have about work processes is a great place to start. Critical feedback can be uncomfortable, and will probably require some trial and error. However, rethinking how you’ve “always” done something can greatly benefiting the overall success of your company.
Additionally, the mortgage industry is facing the wave of technology affecting most jobs. Embracing the new can make the difference between falling behind, and finding incredible success. Automation in the industry is not going to steal your job. Instead, it will free you up to focus on the relational parts of your job that matter the most.
How can your software tools help you develop your company culture?
One of the ways to increase your employee satisfaction is by more fully leveraging your existing tools. For example, if you only partially utilize a company wide messaging system, you’re missing out on an opportunity for more transparent communication amongst employees.
Using a CRM to create a healthier company culture
If you’re using a CRM, like Jungo, your software has the chance to truly revolutionize the way your company communicates. Within Jungo, for example, you and your team can log every interaction you have with a customer. This means that everyone can be on the same page at any time.
Jungo features such as tasks, events, and log-a-call appear on every contact and loan page. Using these tools, you can quickly create a detailed list of each interaction you have had with your customers. That way, if anyone has to pick up from where you left off, they will be completely informed. This continuity of information creates a thriving environment where employees are informed plus responsive.
So, having an internal software system that allows cross company communication and dialogue is a powerful tool for creating a great company culture. Jungo is a great example of this type of resource!
Creating a healthy company culture is important whether you’re a branch manager or a LOA. There are many ways to focus your efforts on improving your employee satisfaction. Don’t be afraid to talk to others in the industry to see what worked for them. And remember, don’t be discouraged if your company or your job isn’t exactly what you want it to be. You have the opportunity to change it!