Company culture is a set of shared beliefs, values and practices that attracts amazing people and amplifies their ability to do their best work. It doesn’t happen by accident. It requires planning and perseverance. Culture is critical to a company’s success, as the ones with strong cultures tend to be higher performers. And each one has a secret to an award-winning culture. But those of us that have had to build and maintain one know: it’s about more than having a unique set of company values and rallying everyone around them.
Here are a four ways we keep our company culture fresh and fabulous.
The office environment can reinforce the company culture. We believe the workspace is a physical expression of what a company is all about, and how it is organized reflects the beliefs, values and processes within. To tap into the relationship between environment and culture, design offices that foster the values of the culture, help people do their jobs, and provide what they need to support their daily work. As an agency that offers creative and tech under one roof, we wanted to honor the ethos of collaboration with offices designed for a "create" culture, featuring informal workspaces that can be transformed into whatever is needed in the moment – like a photo studio.
Setting expectations around company culture can be difficult to articulate, which is why onboarding is the best way to build them. Onboarding is about socializing new hires. It’s a relatively new concept in human resources, but an important one that’s about way more than showing new hires how they get into their email. It’s a personal way to instill the organization’s mission, policies and procedures in new employees from the start. Carefully prepare a formal onboarding process which creates situations in which the employee feels nurtured and wants to succeed. When done right, onboarding procedures can give additional clarity, context and consistently to the culture being established.
Creating space for purpose and passion outside of work is one of the most important ways to build a strong company culture. We’ve taken it a step beyond offering employees volunteer days to giving them flexible time to pursue their interests. They are actively involved in mentorship, ongoing community service, extended learning, sports competitions and much more.
We do this for two reasons – first, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. Second, and probably the most important reason: we believe letting employees invest in themselves means they will be able to better invest in the company. People that are more engaged and productive outside of work are constantly mastering new skills, forming new perspectives and identifying new opportunities. When they are engaged in this way, they bring these attributes back to their teams, giving them a competitive edge and enhancing the work they do.
Regardless of the company structure and hierarchy – embrace a culture of transparency. It’s one of the number one factors contributing to employee happiness. Be open about the company vision and philosophy with employees. Let them know why the company exists. Make an effort to keep them up to date about how the vision and philosophy are evolving, especially as it impacts their work trajectory. This kind of openness has an impact on employee performance, making them more adaptive and accountable. When employees know their contributions are significant to achieving the company vision, they are infused with a sense of purpose, which is the key to a thriving company culture.