Your employees are the lifeblood of your company, but it’s your company culture that brings life to your employees. A strong and consistent culture validates the workforce in the work they’re doing and empowers them to make your brand their brand too. A company culture without a defined intent, however, is ineffective. With these 9 company culture ideas, you can start your company culture on the right track and guarantee that it keeps your employees committed, your customers happy, and your business thriving.
What is a company’s culture? In a work environment where “Hawaiian t-shirt Tuesday’s” can be mistaken for “culture,” it’s become far too easy to get your company’s “culture” mistaken for a company “gimmick. The culture of your company isn’t a distraction or a gag, but a pillar that holds your team up. It’s an unseen, but powerful, force that, when used well, motivates you and your employees to do the very best work they can do.
Still, for such an amorphous concept, it can be difficult to know what a clear company culture looks like, or how to get one started. To help you on your journey of discovery, here are some company culture ideas that will help you establish a consistent culture for your company.
1) Hire for Skill and Culture
When interviewing potential employees, you should be paying attention to their skills, their experience, and their ability to reflect the company culture you’re building.
If you want to create a sustainable culture for your business, you need the people in your company to reflect that culture. You should look at the whole person you’re hiring to see how, or if, they would be a good fit for the culture of your company. If you want your team to know that you promote new and personalized company culture ideas, then you need to show them by hiring people who can contribute to that culture.
One way to do this is to break down the candidate’s barriers during the interview process. Interviews are unique experiences that aren’t always indicative of someone’s entire personality or work ethic, so try and ask questions that surprise the candidate - or even better - help them relax and show more of their true self. The questions you ask can even provide you with more insight into who they are as a person and how well they might fit with your company.
2) Talk About Your Company Culture Ideas
Once you have people on your team who are willing to engage with your company culture, then you as a leader need to show them what you want that culture to look like. You can’t just wait for a culture to manifest itself, and you can’t manufacture your company culture, either. Actively managing your culture is one of the best things you can do to improve employee performance and satisfaction, and it’s up to you set the example you want others to follow.
While your employees will likely create their own culture if left to their own devices, it’ll be a culture that your brand may, or may not, be a part of. The better approach is to start a culture beforehand. You need to be the arrowhead here and pinpoint what kind of culture your company should have and then take the actions necessary to bring it to life in a way.
When your company culture ideas start at the top and drips down, your employees will see that the culture you’re encouraging is meaningful and valuable, and they’ll be more motivated to add to it as a result. Whether that means scheduling company culture events in advance, creating a more relaxed work environment, or investing in things that make your employees happier to come to work every day, you have to play an active role to keep your company culture alive.
3) Have Traditions
A good way to example your ideal culture is to hold traditions that you and your staff can look forward to. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want, as long as you remember that you want it to benefit your employees, not pressure them into doing something they don’t want to.
It should also go without saying that whatever traditions you decide to stick to should be in clear alignment with your company’s culture goals. Traditions should be fun, something for your staff to eagerly expect, which means you not only have to know your culture but your staff as well.
Traditions could take the form of a Friday fitness challenge, celebrating employee birthdays or life milestones, providing rewards for exceeding company goals, or any other fun, positive events.
4) Listen to and Learn From Your Team
Setting up good traditions leads right into this next step: learning with and about your team. Once you’ve hired a staff of people who are willing to work with you and the culture you’ve created, your work is far from finished. If anything, it’s just getting started.
As much as you want to establish culture as soon as possible, you need to understand that your culture - like the people who exist within it - is rarely static and is often prone to evolution. There should be certain cultural foundations that remain strong and true, but there also needs to be areas where you can be flexible and adapt to the needs of your team as you continually get to know them.
Just as you do periodic reviews of your employees, try to do periodic reviews of your culture. Often, your employees might be wanting to tell you something but aren’t sure of the best way to do so. A culture review could be as formal as a questionnaire or as informal as going out to lunch.
5) Make it About the People
You can’t have a culture without people to support it. As important as it is for you as the leader to exemplify the core tenets of your company’s culture, the goal of any good culture should be to improve the lives of its members. If you’re going to listen to and learn from your team, then you need to respond in ways that show them they’re being heard.
Listening is good, but without action to back it up, your entire culture will seem fabricated and false. A culture is made up of people, so never lose focus that whatever culture you’re striving towards needs to put its people first.
If someone is unhappy or feels left behind, address it. Be inclusive and accommodating to your employees so they know that they’re important, that they’re heard, and that they’re an important part of your company’s success.
6) Spotlight Successes
One way you can make your culture about the people is by spotlighting their successes. When you lift up one person, you can also lift up everyone, so use one success to encourage another. It’s not about competition, but cooperation.
When you pay attention to the victories of your staff, you reinforce the fact that they are seen and appreciated, which deepens their connection to your company and continues to encourage them to strive towards the betterment of themselves and the work they do for your company.
7) Have a Story
In the same way that you want to have a story for your clients to participate in, you also want your employees to feel like a part of your company’s story. Your brand shouldn’t be just a name and a product, but an engaging story that attracts potential clients and motivates your workforce.
8) Be Diverse
Diversity is a vital part of any successful culture. By hiring diverse individuals from all walks of life, you make a clear, inarguable statement that your company is engaged in an inclusive, supportive community for all people. The companies with the best culture seek out diversity in their hiring process and in the company culture ideas they promote, and when you follow their example you'll be setting your company up for success.
It takes a diversity of thought, experience, and lifestyle to find new and exciting ways to solve problems. The more solutions you have for your customer’s problems, the more successful your company will be. In a similar way, the more types of people you can include in your culture, the more effective they’ll be at growing your brand and helping it reach new, previously unseen heights that you wouldn’t have been able to find on your own.
9) It’s Okay to Have Fun
Just because your culture shouldn’t be defined by gimmicks doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to use them sometimes. As much as a consistent stream of company culture ideas can and should help your brand succeed, if you and your employees don’t get to have fun doing it, then what’s the point?
Sometimes, the best thing to do for a culture is to forget about the technicalities of it and just focus on having fun with your team. After all, a good team works best when it’s made up of people who care about each other and are invested in their individual and communal successes.
Maybe host an office golf tournament using coffee cups, or find a fun office “mascot” - like a toy, or maybe a succulent - and take turns sending it home with different employees. A little creativity and lightheartedness can go a very long way in fostering a genuine, fun work culture that your employees not only enjoy being part of but want to contribute to it in their own creative ways.
If you want to build a successful team, then find ways to appeal to them as people. Be down-to-earth, don’t take yourself too seriously if you don’t have to, and always offer your team opportunities to get to know each other inside and outside of the workplace.
Ultimately, the goal of any good company culture should always be consistency. Whatever you decide the foundational principles of your culture should be, make sure you stick to them. That doesn’t mean they can’t grow and evolve with your company, but that they should be reliable pillars that help you and your marketing team structure remain steadfast in your pursuit of professional and personal success.