What is a company culture? You may think of the trendy Silicon Valley companies with ping-pong tables and employees lounging on modern furniture, but the truth is, a company culture is any set of values or attitudes that define a business. Having a desirable company culture can help with employee acquisition and retention, productivity, and quality of work. Here’s are a few ways you can build a strong company culture.
1. Share the successes.
Employees want to know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated, so be sure to give credit where it is due. Don’t take credit for someone else’s success, and don’t allow other employees to do it either. Make it known that everyone should support and celebrate any success that benefits the company, even if they were not directly involved in the efforts leading to it. Creating this type of environment not only leads to higher employee satisfaction, but it will also build a stronger team atmosphere. The successes you reach as a company should be celebrated by all stakeholders in your organization.
2. Be transparent.
Communicate often and honestly with employees. If an issue arises with an employee’s work, bring it directly to them instead of discussing it with others first. Prevent rumors from flying around the office by communicating company news to everyone with the same message and at the same time. Employees don’t want to feel like they’re the last to know about something taking place within the company. It does not take any time for one small rumor to turn into full-blown panic. For example, if a manager tells an employee that bonus pay will be cut soon, you better bet the entire staff will know by the end of the day. Communicate your expectations for job performance and office behavior in a clear and direct manner so everyone is on the same page. Trust is a necessary foundation for a strong company culture, and transparency is the way to build it.
3. Make room for activities outside of work.
Build a stronger culture by scheduling time for your employees to get to know each other outside of work. This does not mean forced after-work happy hour but an activity outside of work that occurs during regular business hours. A group of employees that genuinely gets along with each other will be more productive and cohesive in the long run, so take an afternoon off to go to a local sports game or play a round of mini golf together. Is it the holiday season? Arrange for your team to buy Christmas gifts for a local child in need. Not only will this help employees bond, but it will make them respect the company more for giving back to the community. Planning an activity like this will show employees that your business is not just about the profit, but also the people.
4. Feed into feedback.
Encourage employees to feel comfortable providing feedback. One of Google’s cultural characteristics is that an idea can come from anyone and anywhere. Take this approach and get feedback from everyone within your company on anything from which sodas you should stock in the vending machine to career development opportunities. Most importantly, do more than just ask. Listen to what your employees tell you and if necessary, take action, otherwise the goodwill you have created by encouraging feedback will be destroyed and only lead to frustration. No one wants to feel like their suggestions go straight into the trash can!
5. Practice what you preach.
No matter what kind of culture you’re aiming to build in your company, you must lead by example. If you want to implement an open door policy, don’t snap at an employee who stops by to ask you a question. Employees will look to you for guidance on how to behave, so you must act in a way that’s consistent with the culture you want for your business.
Although the values and attitudes may differ, one characteristic that remains constant among all solid company cultures is a strong leader. As you work on building your company culture, take this assessment by Joel Goldstein, President of Mr. Checkout Distributors, to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are as a leader.