When you mention “company culture,” images of fancy buildings, daily catered lunches and endless open space with fuse ball tables and video game hubs quickly jump to the forefront, especially in tech corridors like Silicon Slopes. But company culture goes far beyond swanky lounges and employee fitness facilities that rival the fanciest gym in town. More than anything, company culture is about what you believe, what you do and how you treat your people. Your culture is what you company actually is, rather than just what you say you are.
You can reap the biggest rewards with the least amount of capital investment by simply improving your company culture. Your people are your greatest resource and investments in them will reap dividends in the form of improved morale, a motivated workforce, easier employee recruitment and retention, and increased profits.
Know your core values and stick to them
Your culture is ultimately a reflection of the values you live and the tone that you set as the leader of your company day in and day out. If you are building a new company, establish your core values early on and stick to them. If you are further along in your organization’s life cycle, take the time to really analyze your company’s mission and values and determine if they are still applicable to your specific goals and circumstances. Your values are not set in stone — they are a living document that can be adjusted as your company changes and grows.
Having a piece of paper stating values you do not uphold is not fooling anyone — your employees included. For example, if “family” is a core value, your employees will know it by your decisions both big and small— and their families will know it. If “hard work” is a core value, your team and customers will see it reflected in your company from the very top down. If your stated values are not currently an accurate depiction of what you hold most important as a company, your company’s culture will benefit from changing them. By more honestly and transparently communicating the priorities of your company, your current and potential future employees’ expectations will meet reality, creating a more harmonious work environment.
Invest in your surroundings
At Scandia, we have learned that an investment in your surroundings is really an investment in your company culture. Whether that means moving from a delipidated building to a more modern office, making cosmetic improvements to a dated office space, or improving your landscaping and green space, you are showing your employees that you are committed to improving their daily experience and are invested in improving morale.
As with making sure your core values are an accurate representation of what is truly most important at your company, it is also vital that your surroundings are in line with your expressed core values. If you say that are committed to being cutting edge or modern, but your office space looks like it is stuck in the 1980’s, it will make it difficult for your employees or your customers to believe you. If you are a company that thrives on creativity, take an honest assessment of your work environment to determine if you’ve built a space where creativity thrives or, if alternately, is stifled. If your surroundings do not live up to your company’s core values, you do not have to go into massive debt or take on expensive renovations to see an improvement in your company culture. When done thoughtfully and intentionally, even small, inexpensive changes like paint, new artwork or refreshed common spaces can make a big impact in moving the needle toward your ideal company culture until you can afford to make bigger investments.
Invest in your people
Most importantly, identify meaningful ways to invest in your people. Doing so will ensure you build a strong and lasting company culture. These investments can be monetary or investments of time and energy. Besides the obvious of increasing salaries and benefits, look for other tangible ways to invest in your team. Seek out opportunities to invest in your employees’ knowledge base through conferences, workshops and continuing education. Grab pizzas for your team and watch free webinars over lunch for some inexpensive team bonding in the process. Celebrate achievements and look for opportunities to show your appreciation for the work they are doing to grow your company.
No matter the size and scale of your company, the one thing you can always afford is to be flexible. By extending flexibility to and expecting flexibility from your employees and contractors, you can improve your company culture while also increasing productivity. Because of COVID-19, we know now more than ever the ways employees can benefit from the flexibility of working remotely, but there are also a variety of other ways you can be flexible with your team. By adapting your team’s structure and workflow to allow for flexibility in the case of family emergencies, schedule changes and unusual needs or challenges, you foster an environment for your employees and subcontractors to rise to the occasion and be flexible to meet the needs of your company and customers.
At Scandia, we’ve successfully grown and scaled a variety of businesses. Our success has been fueled by establishing a strong company culture. Want to see how we can help you build yours? We’d love to talk!