Browse through a few job postings, and you are bound to see the words “corporate culture” in at least one of them. It’s a term that can be difficult to define, and even harder to measure. So when a potential employer tells a job applicant about their workplace’s “strong company culture,” what does that really mean?
Well, the truth is that it varies from office to office. To some, it infers that the company hosts fun events for their employees and provides them with exciting perks like a games room and a snack cupboard. To others, it could simply signify that all members of an organization hold true to a defined set of values and beliefs. Often, it is a bit of a mix of the two, especially when it comes to startups and tech companies.
A workplace that is known for having a strong company culture is more likely to be able to retain and recruit top-tier talent. Whether you are starting a business from the ground-up or looking to improve the culture of your established company, it’s never a bad time to improve upon or instill a strong company culture within your organization. Not sure where to start? Keep reading to learn about our tips for building a strong company culture…
DON’T PROCRASTINATE, EVALUATE!
There’s no time like the present to conduct a thorough audit of the current state of your company’s culture. Identifying areas in need of improvement will help you focus your efforts. Start by gathering information by having candid conversations with your employees, collecting anonymous surveys, and speaking with managers from a wide range of departments. Collect as much feedback as possible in regards to what can be done to provide your employees with a better work environment. Then, conduct a SWOT analysis of your organization’s culture; identify the strengths that are to be maintained, weaknesses that need to be resolved, opportunities for growth, and any threats that have the potential to diminish a strong culture. After your evaluation is complete, you will have a clearer picture idea of what needs to be accomplished in order to begin to establish a strong company culture.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
The importance of healthy two-way communication between managers and their subordinates is hardly a revolutionary concept, however, it is as important as ever. A great place to start is scheduling regular one-on-one meetings, which provide an opportunity for employees to give management feedback and voice opinions that they may not feel comfortable sharing in a team setting. Executives and managers should aim to establish trust with their workers and create an environment where they don’t fear speaking their minds. Implementing an “open door” policy is an excellent way for higher-ups to let their employees feel that they can approach them anytime with any concerns they may have. Moreover, you should actively seek out your employees’ opinions, and ask them what you can do to improve their experience as a member of your organization.
TEAM BUILDING TACTICS
You know the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work”? It may sound a bit cheesy, but it’s true! Individual contributions aren’t enough; any level of success requires effective collaboration amongst not only members of a specific department, but the entire company as a whole. Plus, when everyone gets along on both a professional and personal level, it helps create a supportive environment that contributes to a strong company culture. Team building activities are a fantastic method to improve and form workplace relationships. These events can range from out-of-office excursions such as attending a baseball game or volunteering at a local soup kitchen, to more simple in-house activities like trivia contests or hackathons. Either way, team-building efforts allow employees to get to know one another in a more relaxed setting, which often results in a friendlier, happier work environment going forward.
LIVE YOUR VALUES
Having a defined list of core values is a significant aspect of establishing a strong company culture. Spend the time to really think about what matters most to your organization – commitment, integrity, honesty? Make your values known and accessible to current and future employees. Your company should have a clear purpose; everyone who works for it must know exactly what the business is ultimately trying to accomplish. And remember, as a leader within your company, you need to embrace these values and lead by example by living them every day. You can’t just talk the talk – you must walk the walk!
HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE
People are responsible for the makeup of a company’s culture, so it’s important that you hire the right ones, starting from the top down. Hiring people who will embrace your organization’s values and believe in your purpose is critical to establishing and maintaining a strong company culture. When making hiring decisions, consider applicants who you think will not only “fit in” to your culture, but actively contribute to it. Spend the extra time when interviewing candidates to evaluate their potential fit within your company; find out if their personal values align with those of your organization. Ask about their interests, hobbies, and ability to work with others. Some companies even require their job candidates to do a personality test (such as the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator) as part of the application process to help determine if they are suitable for their work environment. Remember, resumes aren’t everything. Spend time getting to know your potential new hire on a more personal level. Choose to bring on positive people who want the people around them to succeed as much as themselves.
CREATE AN AWESOME ENVIRONMENT
Aim to establish a workplace environment where people actually want to come to work and are happy being in the office once they get there! A strong company culture cannot be achieved when employees are tired, frustrated and stressed. Assign reasonable deadlines, create policies that allow for a work-life balance, and implement a drama-free policy that requires employees to respect one another. Remember that employees are people, first and foremost. Any problems they may be dealing with in their personal life are hard enough without the additional stress of worrying about being reprimanded at work for missing a day or two. Furthermore, perks such as catered lunches and birthday celebrations help contribute to a happy workplace. Finally, make it a priority to create an inclusive environment that accepts everyone regardless of gender, race and sexual orientation; have a no-tolerance policy for any form of bullying or harassment.
It may seem like a small thing, but letting your employees know that they are appreciated can go a long way and contributes to a strong company culture. Offer praise for a job well done, even for smaller tasks. Recognize and reward significant achievements. It is essential for people to feel like their efforts impact their company in a meaningful way. So, next time you are walking to the boardroom and pass an employee hard at work on a project, offer them a simple “thank you.” It may just turn their day around.