As a follow up from our recent blog about how to kick-start employee engagement during the World Cup, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the concept and importance of company culture!
In its most basic form, culture is the ideas and social behaviours adopted by a group of people.
So if you put that into a workplace context, it’s extremely important to create a positive one to ensure your business gets the most out of all employees.
A toxic workplace culture can severely impact productivity and ultimately lead to a high staff turnover rate.
What does a good work culture look like?
A positive culture is one that sets the tone correctly. This includes the way every employee communicates and engages with each other and customers.
One company to take note of is Facebook. Their culture is famous for encouraging its engineers to “move fast and break things”.
Setting a strict culture with little flexibility can create a stuffy environment. Employees will feel pressured to act a certain way and it can even stunt creativity.
A top culture will give the employees the freedom to check their phones in work hours, chat about the latest television dramas and offer them the chance to get together for regular bonding sessions.
If you get the team working together in unison, your business will thrive as a result.
Think of a rowing team, where each member of the boat must move in perfect harmony to gain the most speed and momentum.
However, the question is: how do you achieve this?
Here are a few ideas to get you going.
1. Use your experience
An obvious inclusion perhaps, but one that is so relevant and important.
Cast your mind back to your previous jobs and try writing down a few bullet points about what aspects of the work culture you liked and didn’t like.
Did the CEO treat the team to a meal out if you hit targets every month?
Were you encouraged to have a beer every Friday afternoon and discuss the successes/failures of the past week with the wider team?
Or on the other hand, did your old manager try to micro-manage everyone?
Collate these thoughts and you can start to form a basis on what is the winning formula to culture success.
2. Variety is key
When it comes to the recruitment process, you need to look for a candidate who complements you and the rest of the team.
If you already have outgoing and loud people, maybe you should look for a thinker with a natural means of processing information in a more analytical way.
Alternatively, if this candidate will be working with you, have a look at some of your closest friends and note down your favourite qualities about them.
You can start to understand which traits make you smile, make you loyal and make you work harder for them.
To find intelligent and top candidates, take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and challenge them with a series of peculiar questions.
For example, “how do you detect whether or not a word is a palindrome?” Or “if you had to pick a famous Hollywood actor to play you, who would it be and why?”
This will allow you to establish who works well under pressure and how the certain candidate’s mind works.
A great working culture is also about keeping the channel of communication between the hierarchy and employees open and available.
As we recently covered in our previous blog about how to deal with disruptive employees, listening is a powerful tool.
Let your employees know that the door is always open for an informal chat to voice their concerns or ideas.
You can even hold team meetings which give them the opportunity to talk about them in a group environment so they don’t feel vulnerable or isolated.
If you highlight problems or encourage ideas, your team will be happier and be willing to give their all to the cause.
4. Get the whole team onside
This point isn’t just about investing time and effort into your employees. It’s highlighting the fact that a good work culture involves their families too.
After every long hard day, most employees will go home to their wives, husbands, partners, parents or friends.
Putting on events which includes everyone will give you the opportunity to sell your dreams, your visions and the work philosophy to the people your employees hold dearest.
American airline company, JetBlue, followed this idea and saw their profits rise from $58 million in 2009 to $168 million in 2013.
The fact is, having a supportive family and friends behind every employee will keep them happy and motivated to go above and beyond for your business.
5. Don’t segregate
As a business, it’s easy to separate areas like sales, marketing, customer support etc.
However, the key to culture is getting the wider business working as one.
Once again, having team events like an annual sports day could be a fun way to get people together.
But instead of letting your employees pick their teams, do a random draw in front of the whole business.
This should mix each department up and give employees an opportunity to get to know others.
Plus a bit of friendly competition is always a top way to get banter levels up and create a positive vibe across the business.
Whatever methods you implement, just remember to keep things open and light-hearted. Employees burdened by rules and micro-management is a business destined to fail.
Establish your core principles as a business and get your team buying into it. As a result, you’ll start to see both the short and long-term benefits.
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