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Investing in Company Culture

by Andrew Storrier

3 min read

Facebook, Google, Twitter – all blue-chip brands that spend big creating world-renowned staff cultures. Why? Because having an attractive place to work is an excellent way to recruit the best talent in the market. As a small business, however, you probably don’t have $400 million lying around to jazz up your culture like Facebook, but there are some interesting ways to build a positive working environment without breaking the bank. Investing in company culture is a sure-fire way to keep your best employees around and boost morale.

It Starts with You and Your Nucleus

The first few hires are important to any company, but successful hires shouldn’t be based on just aptitude. The attitude of your ‘co-founders’ will help you form the initial building blocks of the business’s culture. One CEO suggests travelling with a potential co-founder before bringing them onboard.

Talk about the culture you want to build with these people, and get to know them personally. Always describe your future plans for the company to them, and always use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ when discussing the organisation. Remember to have fun as well! A few well-timed pub lunches are worth their weight in gold.

Transparency is a Valuable Culture Trait

Traditionally, the employer has been viewed paternalistically, protecting its employees from bad news or tough decisions. However, sharing internal information helps bind the organisation to its people and fosters an all-for-one mentality, which encourages productivity.

Fostering a transparent culture means sharing results good or bad, delegating responsibilities to your employees and trusting them to make decisions. Remember to keep some things private, such as employees’ salaries, performance reviews and other confidential matters.

Encourage Socialising

Building stronger relationships among your employees is a guaranteed way to boost engagement, and one way you can help everyone get along is to push them to be social with each other.

Some ways you can do this is to host competitions, such as a team ping-pong tournament, an office cook-off or movie night. These types of ideas are fun and often free, and the office can put up small rewards like a gift card or a morning off.

Another idea is to encourage group exercise or meditation, depending on which way the office is inclined. For the sporty, you can start a mixed netball team, or take up lunchtime boxercise. For the more relaxed, there’s yin yoga – a form of yoga where simple poses are held for five minutes or more. Many studios offer classes and often combine them with mindfulness meditation; a proven productivity booster.

Let Everyone Contribute to Your Culture

You can establish team contributions to culture by having a ‘champion’, or someone who owns what the business’ working environment is all about. Employees should be encouraged to contribute through this person by suggesting activities they enjoy.

These ‘culture champions’ are generally very influential with their peers, and can be used to spearhead culture change if it is needed. Although leadership drives a lot of culture, an employee who owns the culture will help maintain a positive work environment.

Take the Team Overseas

So you have a bit of money from a big sale, you have your cash flow in order and everything is sitting pretty. Well why not throw a bash? A beach bash? Overseas?

A sponsored holiday can work wonders for team morale and bonding. It helps break the monotony of being in the office every day, and excites creativity. It’s important that people actually work, so remind them they’re on the trip to achieve goals.

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, getting out of the office once in a while can really boost team morale and help people unwind. Why not play a game of basketball or take a picnic down in the middle of nowhere? The middle of nowhere comes with Wi-Fi, doesn’t it?

What would you do to boost company culture with $400 million?

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