Company culture is the hottest word of the year. You don’t have to just take my word for it. Forbes explains why companies need to make a change and I’ve broken it down in 5 easy company cultural changes that have worked in my experience to engage employees.
Whether you’re a Manager, Director, CEO, or Business owner you’re typically working non-stop from the time you come into the office until you leave. Most the time you’re working on emails until the late hours of the night. Sometimes, it keeps you from focusing on the small things that can really impact your business, employees, and ultimately, your customers. If you’ve read Zappos’ Delivering Happiness, you’ve heard, “a happy employee makes a happy customer.” That’s where company culture comes in.
I do have to say, no matter the size of the company, certain cultural norms will instill a level of trust and appreciation between the employee and employer, such as celebrating employees’ birthdays or updating everyone on how the company is doing and plans to grow. You’d be shocked at how many business owners undervalue or ignore these basic exercises.
As a business owner or manager, you may never stop worrying about where the next dollar is coming from, or how much your team is producing, but it’s imperative as a company leader to maintain positivity, communication, and morale in the workplace. If you couldn’t tell by my beliefs already, company culture is essential to strengthen the business. The question is, where do I start?
Here are 5 tips to get your company culture up and running.
1. What does the company stand for and where are you going?
Consider the vision of the company and what your mission statement is. This can change and evolve over time, but without any idea how to distinguish your own company, your employees will remain confused and likely not know how to articulate exactly what they do to their friends and family. Not only that, vision is critical when working on projects and setting goals. Everyone wants to know what they’re working towards. You need to have something to believe in so that your staff members and colleagues can believe in it as well.
2. Accountability and Structure
As crazy as it sounds, you’ll want to appoint a person or a team of people to help coordinate all activities. This will help streamline any new ideas or processes that are put in place. As a manager I took it upon myself to start the team building activities but over time it was easy to transition the process over to another team member since something was already in place.
3. Leaders within the company sets the tone – Communication is key!
Time and time again I’ve heard from former staff members that they’d like to know what the C’s (CEO, CFO, CTO, COO) of the company are working on. I couldn’t tell you how important it was for us to make an active effort to be as transparent about the state of the business. As a company leader, your communication shows a sense of sensitivity and compassion to all the staff members and keeps them involved with (dare I say it) the vision and direction of the company. We all want to know there’s a future, or in some cases when it’s time to buckle down and work hard.
But previous CEOs and CFOs I’ve worked with didn’t know this in the beginning, or thought they were doing their part. It wasn’t until we had manager meetings (requested by the managers) that we started holding monthly company meetings. These monthly updates, held by the CEO’s and Directors, covered all the business development opportunities, any major changes or obstacles, and if we’re on track to hitting deadlines and goals. But most importantly, this was the time we gave out employee of the month awards! We’ll get to employee appreciation is just a minute.
The point is, we held monthly company meetings and weekly team ones within the individual departments to allow the team members to open up about all items and allows staff members of all levels to share new ideas. I can’t stress enough the importance of allowing your staff members to share new ideas to not only contribute to the culture and give feedback, but to help on any project that’s being worked on. This too may help identify your superstars and future leaders!
Other ideas that might work for you: Company newsletters, Yammer (social network for companies), SCRUM meetings, the iconic suggestion box etc.
4. Are you still learning? I know we are!
Continuing education can benefit professionals at all levels! Highly trained individuals interested in bettering themselves can be an incredible asset in the workplace. We call this a win-win situation: “yay for the employee for gaining more credentials” and “go team go!” to the employer for having a talented and trained team.
Some of the basic offerings employers can do to engage employees can be in the form of paid training; certifications, seminars, degrees, licenses, continuing education courses, etc. Some of these options may be for higher level employees, which can sound like an investment, but I recommend you offer some form of education for all level employees to show equal opportunity.
Are you aware of all the webinars and podcasts that are taking place everyday on all subjects? How about all the free e-books and e-learning courses? These are ways to promote continuing education that would only cost the company the hourly or salary time of the employees. Such training is beneficial and convenient for all parties. From executive to entry level there are a wide range of topics that all organizational members can attend to stay up-to-date with industry standards.
Another creative idea you can use to educate and motivate your employees is Lunch and Learn. What we did was identify employees with unique education (HTML, yoga, psychology) and brainstorm which ideas could be useful knowledge to make us a happier, smarter, and more productive team. The company sponsored lunch (WE LOVE FOOD) and one team member taught a subject; marketing, insurance, html, proper posture, seo and more.
Lastly if you’re not sold yet, here are 4 main reasons you want a continuing education program in place: You’ll employ higher skilled employees, you’ll identify future leaders, you’ll maintain employee retention and job satisfaction, and you’ll increase in job productivity. Need I say 4 more?
Our Thank You Tree!
5. Great Job! Employee Appreciation
Giving appreciation is a skill that not all business owners have, but it’s one that needs to be exercised far more often than it typically is.
How can you show appreciation to employees? It’s easier than you think: how about saying “Thank You” for their hard work and contribution to the team or project. Bosses, we know you’re making the decision when it comes to projects and deadlines, but instead of demanding something being taken care of why not ask and say “please”.
Here’s a thought, one of the easiest ways to show employee appreciation; regular annual reviews or semi annual reviews. You’d be surprised, but I’ve seen companies without this process in place and I’m sad to say I saw some employee reviews fall by the waste-side. Managers, don’t let this happen.
Flexible schedules, PTO, and early Fridays; benefits like these can make a significant difference on the longevity of employment and the employee feeling appreciation towards the employer.
Another tradition we conduct weekly is “Thank Yous” (see above). All employees nominate another staff member for doing something for them and write the “Thank you” on a post-it note. This can range from something big: “Thanks Fernando for creating that mock-up for me in such a short period of time!” To something small: “Nancy those cookies you baked were delicious.” Best of all, there’s no limit to how many thank yous we write or receive.
Next we read the thank yous aloud and the winner (one from each department) gets a $25 gift card. I know it’s not a lot money, but it makes a difference, especially if it’s a movie theater gift card: that’s enough for a date.
Another fun activity we do is employee of the month, this person is nominated from all staff members and the winner gets a cool character superhero drawing of themselves and a gift valued up to $150.
Other ideas to consider:
- Celebration national everything day! from donuts, to customer service week. Find ways to have fun on those national holidays. Food is always a great way to celebrate.
- Community outreach: promote and benefit those who help those in need.
- Regular team building: Weekly or monthly activities to get the teams to interact with one another.
- Breaks: let you team member enjoy social media as an outlet. Matter of fact, require that your employees take a break! If they work through lunch, buy it for them.
- Social media: Be on it! Post pictures of all the fun times you have. Share moments of positive interactions with your clients.
- Food! If you have a kitchen, keep it stocked with snacks available to all staff members and add a whiteboard so employees can request food. EVERYONE loves food.
Is there such a thing as over appreciation? No! Everyone likes to hear “good job” or “thank you!” This will help motivate the team member to continue on the same path. You, the business owner or manager, have the opportunity to make a positive impact on someone’s life.
So do it. It’ll result in a positive, thriving office environment that everyone, including you, can enjoy everyday. For more updates on how you can improve your business, subscribe to our blog at the top of our page.