You’ve probably heard hiring managers, startup founders, and office managers talk about company culture. Maybe you’ve talked about it yourself.
As companies fight for top talent, many have jumped on the company-culture bandwagon, believing that adding a pool table, or buying more snacks, will make employees happy.
But employees don’t want to work at companies because they can play video games on their lunch break. Employees choose companies—and stay with them—because they’re part of a thriving community that feels like home.
A positive company culture doesn’t appear out of no where. It takes hard work and a lot of deliberate action. Thankfully, with some elbow grease, it is possible to dramatically improve company culture so that you can attract prospective employees and keep the talent you’ve got.
Here are 6 ways to dramatically improve your company culture:
1. Establish Values, Then Hire (and Fire) by Them
Positivity, productivity, and determination are contagious. If you have employees who are excited to come to work, their cheer will spread through the office. Unfortunately, negativity and passive aggressive behavior spreads, too.
So, how can you make sure you’re hiring positive employees who are easy to work with?
Establish values, then hire and fire accordingly. Moz, a marketing software company, developed the TAGFEE code to solidify their values and share them with all employees. These values are transparent, authentic, generous, fun, emphatic, and exceptional.
Make sure to write your values down. They need to be set, not just free-floating ideas about who you are. Finally, don’t be afraid to say goodbye to employees who don’t live and breathe these values.
2. Get Leadership on Board
It will be difficult to improve company culture if leadership isn’t on board. The leaders at your company can steer their teams towards changes and improvements.
Sometimes, leaders think that company culture is about having fun at the office. To counter this sentiment, emphasis tangible results, such as improved employee retention, increased productivity, and fewer office conflicts. Find case studies and examples of companies that have seen crazy benefits from improving their culture.
For example, Grasshopper, a virtual phone system, reduced employee churn from 25 percent to 10 percent since 2008, when the company solidified its core values and changed its culture. Not only that, the company downsized to invest in a smaller, specialized team. The drop in payroll expenses allowed Grasshopper to invest in itself, and it was able to nearly double its market share.
3. Consider Atmosphere
Your employees spend 40 hours per week (or more!) in your office. Shouldn’t it be a place where they want to spend their time?
“Designing a comfortable office environment is about more than aesthetics; careful attention to design can give a boost to employee happiness,” Lois Goodell, principal and director of interior design at CBT Architects, told Inc.com.
Your office should be a haven that is fresh, clean, and relaxing. In order to channel a positive atmosphere, think deliberately about your office space.
Is there compelling artwork on the walls? If not, get some.
Do employees have the option to have standing desks? If it’s difficult in your office space, consider options like Stand Stand, a portable and inexpensive standing desk option.
What about furniture, food in the kitchen, and living plants? Think about your environment from a holistic perspective to determine if the office feels like home.
4. Listen to Problems and Concerns
No matter how great your company culture is, there are still going to be issues. When a conflict arises, you need to listen to problems and concerns without judgement. Don’t dismiss them.
In fact, research by the The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology shows that when people feel heard in a divisive situation, conflicts are more likely to be resolved, and an even playing ground will be established. Just listening to their concerns will make them feel more at ease, and, in turn, improve your culture.
Make sure you have a forum to voice problems and concerns. If an employee has a problem, where can they go? Where can they get the support they need? Make sure you have an outlet.
5. Celebrate and Play to StrengthsSomeone hired your employees because they’re good at something, and your leadership trusts them to do their jobs well.
Even so, many leaders neglect to celebrate strengths, only calling out employees when they they flub up and make mistakes. As someone invested in company culture, make sure to find reasons to celebrate. A pat on the back goes a long way.
If you have company-wide meetings, highlight some of the amazing things the team has done. Remind employees of how much they’re needed, and share their accomplishments with the rest of the team.
6. Take an Honest Interest
You’ve hired employees because they’re skilled at their jobs, but they’re people, too. Get to know them asmore than their skillset.
Do they have a family? Do they have a side project? A lot of this information will be shared naturally in an office, but it’s your job as a culture leader to gather this information from everyone.Knowing personal info makes it easy to celebrate milestones. But more importantly, your investment will make employees feel like they matter, and that’s what a great company culture is all about.
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