Creating Culture at Work

February 10, 2020

According to LinkedIn’s Talent Blog, candidates looking for work today have more options than at any point in recent history. Record low unemployment means employers have to put greater focus on finding and keeping top talent, while employees are free to focus on finding the right cultural “fit.” But defining and communicating culture – which shapes how employees interact, how well they do on the job, and how long they stay – can be an elusive task.

Fortunately for business owners and managers, there are concrete ways you can build a culture that attracts and creates a team committed to your organization’s long-term goals.

  • Allow flexibility –  Forbes notes that for a lot of employees, remote working (and other flex-time options like having a less rigid leave policy that permits leave by the hour versus a mandatory half or full day) helps build company loyalty. Recognizing an employee has a personal life demonstrates genuine concern for each employee’s personal circumstances and creates a culture of compassion and authenticity, where employees are seen as people, not just as a replaceable resource.
  • Offload accountability –  According to Bonusly (a recognition and rewards platform), employers who shift from micro-managing to more trust-based relationships – trusting staff to be accountable for results, rather than focusing on how or when they do it – ensure their employees feel empowered to make decisions. Instead of furthering the perception of a task to be done to satisfy the boss, this accountability creates a personal stake in larger projects and company-wide goals.
  • Invest in connection –  Adults spend about a third of their working life on the clock, so supporting coworker connections is critical to creating an inclusive and collaborative office community. This can be done through regular staff meetings where successes and challenges are shared, remote workers are physically present, and major collaboration occurs; or by creating opportunities for informal run-ins where relationships form (e.g., the water cooler or the break room), inter-office competitions, or even offsite team-building. In an office with greater work autonomy and flexible work hours, chat and webinar tools like Slack, gChat, or Zoom can help connect colleagues across remote locations.
  • Personalize recognition –  Individual recognition from both leadership and peers is the second leading driver of employee retention, according to Forbes. (Flexibility is the first.) It’s easy to build a system that offers written and verbal praise during regular staff meetings, established manager meetings, or even internal peer-to-peer communication platforms (think Yammer or Chatter). Just remember recognition needs to happen on a regular basis and be tailored to each employee.
  • Build transparency –  Michael Monteiro, CEO of Buildium, a property management software company, reflects on his company culture in a LinkedIn Talent Blog, noting that “the perks — free beer, free snacks, ping pong tables — will carry you by for a while, but ultimately, people want to know where you’re going, and why they’re doing the work they’re doing.” Sharing success and challenges openly helps a team connect to the vision and the reason they – and their teammates – are working collaboratively towards a goal.

In today’s economy, business owners and managers who want high performers and productive teams make creating a positive work culture a priority. Flexibility, shared goals, transparency, effective use of communication tools, personal accountability, and positive colleague connections help employees see themselves as a team committed to a shared goal or vision, where successes and challenges are tackled and celebrated together. Using these tips as a foundation for concrete changes will send a strong message about the culture you want for your business, ensure that existing staff and new hires find a satisfying, long-term fit.

Sources: “Building company culture: 7 steps for every small business,” LinkedIn; “The 8 essential steps to building a winning company culture,” Entrepreneur; “Building your company culture: 9 mistakes to avoid [& How to fix them],” 6Q Blog; “How to create a positive company culture in 11 easy steps,” 6Q Blog; “Fun and powerful ideas to help shape your company culture,” Inc; “15 best ways to build a company culture that thrives,” Forbes; “How to build a positive company culture,” Forbes; “Happy work culture – What it is, why it matters, and how it’s built,” ProofHub; “The Deloitte global millennial survey 2019,” Deloitte; “How a strong company culture became a business necessity,” All Hands; “How culture can power you through a tight labor market,” Inc; “Workplace culture: What it is, why it matters, and how to define it,” ERC; “17 seriously disturbing facts about your job,” Business Insider; “How to create a winning company culture”, The Muse; “10 dead simple ways to improve company culture,” Bonusly; “Workspaces that move people,” Harvard Business Review; “Leave your values at the door,” Huffington Post; “9 tips for keeping your best employees,” TalentLyft; “Three steps to creating a flexible corporate culture,” Business2Community

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