Company Culture: Why It’s Important and How to Build It
The idea of creating a culture in the workplace is a fairly recent one, but its power has been shown across a variety of business in a range of industries. In the modern age, employees in many industries expect to work for an organisation that values its staff, and encourages achievements and social interaction.
Marissa Mayer, the current CEO of Yahoo!, has said that company culture is “about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment & helping to find a way to innovate”. It’s this quote that describes exactly why companies should be trying to build a strong company culture – when you have the best staff for the role, and they are comfortable and happy in their environment, you are more likely to get the best from them. Be it amazing innovations or just great quality work, employees have been proven to work more successfully when they’re in a supportive workplace.
There are many multi-national corporations around the world that offer an enviable list of perks to its staff members. Google employees, for example, are treated to a list of perks that is so extensive it borders on ridiculous. They include on-site gyms, cafeterias, haircuts, access to onsite doctors and medical assistance, dry cleaning, swimming pools (which are constantly manned by lifeguards), day care facilities and the option of invoking the 80/20 rule – which allows Googlers to dedicate 80 per cent of time to their primary job and 20 per cent working on passion projects that they believe will help the company. These perks are provided free of charge to staff in each of the ‘Googleplex’ offices around the world.
Not every business has to create a list quite so drastic to encourage a strong and supportive company culture. The Four Seasons hotel chain, for example, offers staff the opportunity to transfer to other hotels internationally when performing well. Retailer Nordstrom offers generous staff discounts. American grocery chain Publix has been applauded for its practice of awarding shares to its staff. These are just some of the benefits offered by a selection of the companies that regularly poll on Fortune’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list.
However – for many companies, it’s not possible to feasibly offer these kinds of bonuses without seriously damaging the profitability of the business. But there are several things that companies can do, for little to no money, to increase the company culture positively.
Value Staff Opinions
Employees like to be recognised and heard – and they often have the most experience with the customer base of your business, so they’re likely to have ideas for new products or service innovations. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Ideas create passion, and passionate employees assist in the building of culture. Within this point, encourage your staff to use pronouns like ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about your business – employees need to feel connected to the company in order to be a part of its culture.
Find ways to have fun within your business – host social functions, play quick games, and create opportunities for your staff to connect with people across the entire organisation. Socialisation is a great aspect of company culture – it helps to build strong teams and helps staff members to feel more comfortable in their working environment. Make sure that all levels of staff get involved – from executives to entry level workers, people should have the opportunity to connect.
Take the opportunity to celebrate (or acknowledge celebrations) wherever possible – it may not be feasible to throw a party for every staff member, but it doesn’t have to be to that extreme. Acknowledge birthdays and personal milestones like engagements, marriages and the birth of children. Recognise and reward long-serving employees, or employees who have been exceeding expectations. Creating a company culture that rewards hard work and longevity will likely encourage staff to strive for that same recognition.
Wherever possible, offer your staff opportunities to expand their knowledge and skill base. From in-house training sessions on key software, to lengthy formal education, many staff members will appreciate being offered the opportunity to better themselves and broaden their horizons. People respond well to learning opportunities, so this will not only increase the skill levels within your business but will also boost the company culture positively.
Whatever you are doing to encourage the building of a company culture, ensure that you keep it consistent – if you offer an opportunity for staff to share their ideas with executives within your business, then make it a regular meeting. Create a calendar of social functions for your staff to look forward to, even if it is once a year during the holiday season. Celebrate all birthdays and milestones across the company, not just a select few. Be consistent in what you offer your staff, so that they consistently perform and engage with the organisation and its culture.
Do you have strong company culture in your organisation? If yes, what kinds of activities does your organisation involve its staff members in? And if not, what would you do to encourage a stronger company culture? Let us know in the comments.
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Huffington Post, Inc., Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider and Edelman.