Ping pong tables, beer on tap, and endless snacks are surface-level-awesome, and they make for great Instagram posts and recruitment selling points to future employees. But at the end of the day, are superficial perks what actually create a great company culture?
Creating a genuine, authentic culture—which means connecting your business goals with what your employees and company value—goes a lot farther than a weekly ping pong tournament or inspirational posters around the office. Culture isn’t even something you can create out of thin air. All you can do is influence it by putting values into action.
Giving employees purpose for coming into work—besides just making a living—gives meaning to their life and translates directly into the work they produce. According to a Global Human Capital Trends report, 86 percent of respondents believe that “corporate culture” is important or very important to a business’ success. However, only 28 percent say they “understand their organization’s culture.” There’s a disconnect.
More often than not, employees aren’t part of the company culture formation and development process—even though they’re the ones it affects most. Rather than trying to get employees to conform to an idea they don’t understand, consider tailoring your culture to fit the one that already exists. Encourage your employees to get involved to help evolve the culture—their honest feedback and input gives you insight into what your company needs.
You don’t need to start from scratch when it comes to improving your company culture, but here are four ideas to keep in mind when it comes to improving the culture.
Know that there is value in values.
Your company already has a list of values—you know, those six words and phrases on your website that your Senior Executive came up with years ago to sound appealing to clients. “Creative!” “Invested!” “Unique!” While those words theoretically imply action and results, it may be necessary to take a step back and examine the reality of your staff. Recognize that your values are how your employees work to reach your organization’s mission and vision, and how you word them impacts your culture. According to the HBR, “An employee’s inertia is strengthened or weakened by the degree of compatibility between his own work ethic and the values for which the company stands.” When you have values that your employees can stand behind and believe in, you’ll help mold your culture into what helps your organization be successful.
Accountability builds trust.
And accountability stems from the top. Don’t be the organization that follows the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” You worked hard to create values your employees believe in, but if a C-Suite employee disrespects a front line employee, all accountability goes out the window. It’s one to thing to say that your organization values its employees, and another to have concrete policies that foster collaboration and encourage communication. Implement genuine and sincere practices across the board to create a unified culture for all levels of employees to hold each other accountable to your company values—improved performance, confidence, and ownership will come from it.
Encourage employee growth.
Sure, employees want the free coffee and snacks—they’re a nice little pick me up and a reminder that their needs are considered. But long-term happiness and sustainable company culture go beyond the freebies and into employee growth and job satisfaction. Listen to what your employees want—if they desire to expand their role, help them find ways to do so. For example, if they want to strengthen their skill sets in other areas, offer mentoring from leaders in other departments. Investing in your employees’ growth, in turn, helps strengthen your company culture.
Employee happiness affects employee retention.
And happiness stems from company culture. According to Bonusly, “Employees who are “engaged and thriving” are 59 percent less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.” Culture goes beyond employee happiness and into company performance—when your employees are engaged in and embrace the culture, they’re going to perform at their best. And remember when it comes to hiring new employees, only hire those that will contribute to the culture you want—that’s a sure way to increase morale and productivity.
Think of it this way: even though they were considered the underdogs, the Eagles won the Superbowl because they understood their teammates, they believed in their sport, and they worked hard when times were tough. While the corporate world doesn’t include fancy Superbowl rings and millions of fans, it does include common goals that can be achieved when the organization and the employees work together.
Company culture isn’t a marketing campaign or recruitment tool—it’s about looking internally to your employees’ values and matching them to your organization’s goal to ensure maximum happiness and productivity. But we know it can get overwhelming—that’s why we’re here to help you put the right pieces in the right place.