“Company culture” has become a big part of corporate conversations lately. It is often being used as a reason why companies are so eager to get employees back into the office, however the concept and significance of company culture is not that simple.
What is company culture?
Company culture, in essence, is the force behind a company that helps attract and retain great employees. It cultivates positive engagement (from both employees and customers) and encourages growth. You can probably see why it's such an elusive and magical component - it is a difficult concept to pin down and define. This is also the reason why the excuse of bringing employees back into the office for the sake of ‘company culture’ is an empty argument that people are struggling to grasp.
Why is good company culture so important?
According to the New York Times, the month of August, 2020 marked the highest number of employees that voluntarily quit their jobs (about 4.3 million) in the 20 years that the government has been keeping track. Fostering a positive employee environment that encourages retention is more vital now than ever before. This calculator will help you get perspective on how much employee turnover costs your company each year.
Although the idea of ‘company culture’ can be tricky, there are a number of things that businesses with healthy and thriving cultures have in common. Here are some tips for improving or strengthening your company’s foundation in order to support a healthier work environment for employees through good culture.
7 Tips for Improving Company Culture
1) FOSTER TRANSPARENCY
If there is one vital key in supporting a healthy company culture it's trust. When distrust of management or leadership begins to spread, it can lead to contempt, frustration, and eventually turnover.
Having transparency with those that contribute to your company fosters trust. In the past, executives and managers have practiced limiting the disclosure of information to employees, and only divulging details on a need-to-know basis. Although there can certainly be a strategy around this tactic, many employees don't like being left in the dark on big company shifts and important decision-making processes that may affect them significantly in the long run.
Rather than ask the question "is it absolutely necessary to share this information with the rest of the company?" instead ask yourself, "is it absolutely necessary to conceal this from everyone?" and even, "how would I feel if this information was kept secret from me and my team?"
A few ways to create transparency:
Conduct monthly full team or full company meetings where executives can have an honest, reciprocal conversation with everyone while encouraging participation and feedback
Share and celebrate success stories, praise, and milestones to boost motivation and excitement
Share challenges too - since solving problems can be collaborated on together, solutions can be found with more perspectives and celebrated by all when a solution is found
2) PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
At Clove & Twine, we understand the value of giving employee welcome gifts. These gifts are an immediate expression of gratitude and excitement, and they foster a strong initial connection with new hires.
So yes, when we hire someone new, they get a welcome kit - filled with unique, beautifully branded products that speak to our company and our values. Can you imagine if we spoke about the importance of corporate gifting and then didn’t offer gifts to our employees?
Practicing what you preach instills trust and encourages loyalty. It tells your employees that you don’t say one thing and do another. It encourages employees to be proud of the company they work for - it’s not just a job, but a profession to be excited about.
3) HAVE RECIPROCAL CONVERSATIONS
Employees feel more valued and supported when their opinions are genuinely considered. According to a 2020 employee engagement survey, 95% of highly engaged employees feel that their direct manager listens to the ideas they have for their organization. Disengaged employees don’t feel supported or listened to, and are more likely to be disconnected from their managers or other coworkers, have lower productivity, and eventually quit altogether.
Build a relationship with your employees by creating reciprocal conversations and getting feedback. Be curious, ask questions, and see how you can improve. Employees are encouraged to make their mark and climb the ranks in their company, but it is important for them to see that managers and executives are constantly working to improve their work and processes as well. This nurtures a genuine relationship of respect and solidarity - when one succeeds, everyone succeeds.
4) ENCOURAGE THEM TO FIND THEIR UNIQUE FLOW
Sure, you may think that a certain project management software is the best way to manage everything employees do on a day to day basis. However, all employees are different. They have different backgrounds, personalities, ages, different strengths and weaknesses. Forcing all employees to organize their work in the same way is like going to the zoo and telling all of the animals: here’s how you’re going to operate now, and you’re going to eat, sleep, and exercise exactly the same. Oh, and if you don’t you will be penalized for it.
People (and animals) simply don’t work in the same ways. Providing a software that people can use to help organize is better than telling people they have to use it. It puts the trust in the employee, rather than the software - and lets them figure out how to best use their time and manage their projects and accounts. If things aren’t falling through the cracks then there’s a saying that goes with that: if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.
5) FACILITATE COWORKER BONDING
Clock natural employee behaviors and see if you can find ways to encourage connections. For example, do people tend to microwave their lunch then sit back at their desks to eat? Get a large lunch table or designate an eating area and invite employees to use that space to sit and socialize. When chatting with coworkers, are there people that get excited about social causes or holidays? Set up an event in the office like a chili cook off, an ugly sweater competition, or a volunteer clean-up afternoon.
If employees work remotely, encourage them to set up casual get-to-know-you chats once a week with teammates. Set up a happy hour at a local spot where employees can connect with remote workers in real life. If they work out of state, encourage online collaboration and praise through channels or threads dedicated to celebrating those successes. Send out employee welcome gift boxes or anniversary kits to anyone working from home.
Can't think of any specific events or other ways for employees to connect? Ask the team what they would want to do, or share some ideas and take a vote.
6) COMMUNICATE BRAND VALUES + MISSION
Every company should have clearly defined values that act as a foundation upon which everything else is built. If there is not a strong foundation, one act or decision can be the catalyst in systems and procedures beginning to crumble.
Sometimes values were established early on, or maybe values have always been implied throughout the company’s history rather than clearly communicated. Sit down with your team and define 3-5 pillars that you can clearly define that resonate with your brand and the customers, employees, and communities you want to serve.
By communicating values clearly to both your customers and your employees, you set up accurate expectations, and an understanding of any future decisions or behaviors made by the company. It reduces uncertainty, instills trust and transparency, and solidifies alignment across teams. This also encourages all levels of employees - from those that hold C-suite positions all the way to new hires and interns - to lead and follow by that example that is clearly set.
7) GIVE APPRECIATION
Even something as simple as a “great job on that project” through email, shared Slack channel, or verbal comment goes a long way in employees feeling valued and encouraged in the work that they do. If they are celebrating a landmark occasion, like a new baby, a company anniversary, a goal reached, or welcoming a class of new hires, go the extra mile by creating a branded kit filled with bespoke corporate gifts.
Ultimately, company culture is about more than simply being in close proximity to coworkers, and that is why it is so important to nurture every facet of what culture means to you and your business. Building and maintaining company culture takes a lot of time and energy - it doesn’t happen simply because it is decided. The culture must align with your company’s values and mission, and as the company grows and evolves the culture must evolve with it.
The good news is that nurturing employee happiness and wellness by establishing a good company culture goes a long way in retention, productivity, and company growth. It’s worth your time to develop a plan that works.
Ready to get started with employee welcome gift boxes or anniversary kits? We will help you set up a gifting plan that meets your unique needs.