How to Build a Vibrant Company Culture
Today’s workplaces are trending toward a culture of everyday casual, weekly happy hours, and open workspaces. Long gone now are the days where cubicles were exciting, and 5:00 pm was quitting time.
"The culture of your company is crucial, as it speaks to not only the happiness and productivity of your employees but the level of service and the value your clients receive."
Emily Farmer, HR Coordinator at Thread, with years of experience in HR, shared with us why the culture an organization’s leadership develops is so essential to attracting top talent, growth, and innovation, and driving business success.
What it is and what it isn’t
According to Emily, it is important to realize that culture means something different for every organization. Culture isn’t a one-size fit all approach. It is something that is spearheaded by the leadership team and executives and bred into the group based on its core values.
The culture of your company should be continuously geared toward accomplishing the mission and goals of the business at all times. The business culture is you and your people!
While today’s workforce is starting to show a strong shift in the structure of the office and its culture, it is important to understand why, and also maintain what your true underlying desires are for your business.
Emily explains that as the workforce becomes filled more and more by millennials, the values of work/life balance and company perks tend to increase, whereas baby boomers were mostly concerned about a paycheck. She warns though, not to get caught up in unlimited PTO, free snacks, and other “trendy” perks if that is not your style.
"What Millennials are looking for is work that has a purpose, along with the freedom to innovate and communicate, and the security of knowing the company values them as contributors to the bigger picture."
If your business is not (and may never be) ready for casual Tuesdays, you don’t have to force it, but make sure that the office is happy by setting clear goals, and being open to communication. Your culture is not something that is permanent either, so if your ideas change, you can change your culture, just be sure to communicate it to the rest of the leadership team and the staff.
Why it helps and when you need it
Understanding the benefits that establishing a workplace culture can afford your business is crucial if you want to have a thriving business. As mentioned above, the baby boomers are retiring, and your company is now looking to attract a new generation of talent. Emily states that this millennial line of workers doesn't want to feel like they clock in at 8 am and out at 5 pm just to go home and then do it all over again the next day. She also stresses that because there is so much time spent working, that working together and for a shared purpose is the key to culture.
This doesn’t necessarily mean in-house work, as telecommuting is becoming more and more prevalent, but being of a similar mindset when working with people can create opportunities for people to be more open, share ideas, and ultimately come up with winning strategies, products, and sales tactics. You can accomplish this through communication of the company's mission, values, and goals.
While skills are no doubt necessary, and each position will require a different set, if you are building a team who all see various destinations, you’ll never get to where you want to go. Instead, hiring for your mission and culture creates a sense of camaraderie, where everyone is working for the same goal.
"Each person understands how his or her role plays a part in helping the whole group get to the finish line. This drive of togetherness creates happy workers, and happy workers are more productive, and we all know that productivity boosts the bottom line."
That is why defining and creating your culture is so important; there is no time to waste starting it. Don’t rush through it, and involve your current leadership team, or if your firm is small enough, ask for input from employees. If you run a more traditional style business Emily suggests, try to take small steps in involving your workforce by holding a day each quarter where no one works, but instead gathers together in a think tank to find ways to be innovative and grow the company. Your people are your greatest asset, but only if they are the right people and if you tap their potential.
How you get it
As mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is define your culture by focusing on your company’s mission, values, and goals, and going from there. Your mission and values are the heart of your business, and the people who work for you are the bloodline, carrying your mission through the organization and to your clients, and bringing back revenue and partnerships.
"The happier and healthier your bloodline, the stronger your heart will be. Work together with other members of leadership, and even your employees to clarify what you are looking for in a culture that will thrive."
As you hire new people, make sure they fit by using assessments. Also, you want to sell your company’s purpose - give candidates a reason to turn down other offers to work for yours. Emily says it’s not always about the pay or the perks, but rather the purpose. You don’t need to copy another business’s culture, adopt your own based on what you want to get out of your company.
Another important factor is communication. Regardless of your company’s style, maintaining safe and clear communication amongst co-workers, managers, and leadership in the organization will foster trust through transparency and will banish fear when dialogue is natural and welcome. In a small company, offering one-on-ones between leaders and employees on a regular basis will help build a collaborative culture and encourage innovation, whereas, in a larger group, this may have to happen with management between leaders and employees. Whether your company is four people, or 1,000 people strong, culture can maintain itself through ensuring consistency amongst managers. Hiring and placing the right people in management positions will keep the vision alive throughout the workforce.
One Final Thought
On that same note, growing companies can rest easy knowing that as the business shifts, so will the goals and the mission to an extent, and therefore culture change is a healthy and positive change. Emily assures us, don’t be afraid of change, embrace innovation and see the difference it can make for your organization.