What do you think when I say Google, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines? Aside from a wealth of information, shoes for everyone in your family (including the dog), and free checked bags, you likely also think of stories you’ve heard about what it’s like to work at these places. Creating and maintaining a corporate culture is more than napping pods and onsite bars for Friday happy hour (but those are both really fantastic!). It’s an integral part of recruiting and keeping a productive and happy workforce, which ultimately leads to a profitable company. “A high-performance culture leads not only to employee engagement but also to measurable business results,” says Greg Besner, founder and CEO of CultureIQ.
We can talk for hours about the recruiting and hiring side of things and how incredibly important it is to make sure you hire the right people that will fit in, and as we like to say, get seated in the right spot on the bus. There are LOTS of articles and books about how to do just this. For now, let’s focus on how to implement and maintain a company culture once you have the right team in place.
Company culture starts with a real grasp on your core values. These values need to be demonstrated and communicated throughout the company so there’s never any question about who you are and what you stand for. One of our core values at INM is to “Be Weird and Have Fun”. For real. It encourages our individual creative genius and empowers us to truly be ourselves, which leads to a happier environment noticeable internally and externally. These core values should be prominently displayed throughout the office, and employees who are caught putting the values into action should be acknowledged or rewarded. We like to use a pro-wrestling style belt. Go big or go home, right?
Here’s a few more basic ways to guide your company to an extraordinary culture:
It’s amazing what can happen when people are given the ability to stop thinking about emails and deadlines and focus on having some human interaction with their teammates. Events can be as humble as a themed pot-luck lunch in the conference room or as grandiose as renting out a suite at a local stadium and watching a sporting event together. Whatever the event, make sure employees have the opportunity to be themselves. Leave work conversations at work.
We all know that negativity can spread like wildfire, but I truly believe that positivity can be even more impactful. Everyone likes acknowledgment. Some in private, some with a parade that is expected to shut down the city. We’ve seen several clients successfully use points based incentive programs to recognize. In addition to points received for birthday and service anniversaries, employees can also receive points from their peers and superiors for doing exceptional work that encompasses the core values. All of those points can then be redeemed online for branded or retail goods. Treat ‘yoself has a whole new meaning.
Utilize surveys, one on one conversations, emails, etc. to gather information from employees. Ask them what they like and what they don’t like about their job and the company as a whole. Ask them why you should be proud to have them as an employee. Ask them what they would do differently. This empowers them to feel like their voice is heard and that they can affect real change (and change that fits within your values). When people, especially those millennials, feel like they are making a difference, you’re guaranteed to keep them around for a long time.
I know this sounds silly, but for those of you with uniform requirements, you probably hear lots of grumbling from your staff. For years those cotton polos and polyester pants were standard wear, but now we’ve got fashion forward options that are flattering and appeal to every shape and size. Ever heard the term, “Dress for success”? What better way to motivate employees for the day than by catching them before they even put their clothes on? Seriously. When they put their uniform on, and they get to wear garments that they like and feel good in, you’ve essentially given them an 8-hour view of themselves in a skinny mirror. They feel on fire and are ready to show it!
Ultimately, a company culture starts from the top down. It has to be woven into the executive’s attitudes, marketing campaigns, and day-to-day interactions. From there, it becomes not only the expectation but also the norm, and that’s how you build a reputation for being one of the greatest places to work! Learn more about how employee engagement can benefit your business.