“A culture of engagement is no longer an option – it is an urgent need,” declares Gallup in a recent article. And they’re not wrong. Any good business leader will understand that a strong workplace culture benefits the company just as much as the employees, from attracting and retaining the best talent, to creating a workforce of brand ambassadors who will forever promote your organisation.
But how do you create, and most importantly, maintain, a good company culture? Who better to provide the answer than a company who has an award-winning organisational culture!
Tips for an award-winning company culture, by the business with award-winning company culture!
In 2018, we were named one of the UK’s top 25 SME culture leaders by Real Business. So we wanted to share our top tips on how to improve company culture within your business. Here’s what we found works for us:
Senior management buy-in
If your CEO or senior management team don’t fully buy-in to your workplace culture initiatives, then a sense of disillusionment and hypocrisy will quickly rear its head amongst your staff. Take, for example, a CEO who chastises staff for working remotely, even though they do it themselves and it’s part of official company policy. This will only breed resentment and an “Us vs Them” mentality.
Instead, senior management need to fully endorse company culture. This sponsorship will encourage inclusivity and promote organisational culture as being something that’s important at every level of the business.
Company culture isn’t a one-off task. It’s not enough to create a static document that sets in stone what company culture is and isn’t. Like most areas of a business, company culture will constantly evolve over time as the company grows and staff needs change.
Ensure that any company culture policies you have in place are not prescriptive, and are instead “working documents” than can be updated as and when team members come up with new company culture ideas. Creating a dedicated project area on your intranet software can help you collate, organise, and action everything related to company culture – this is what we did internally, and it worked a treat.
Ultimately, be open to change, implement incremental and regular improvements, and always ask for feedback from staff.
Gather continuous feedback from staff for ideas on how you can improve company culture
Get everyone involved
Whatever you do, don’t let HR be the only team who owns company culture. A good company culture needs to be driven by the very people it affects – your entire workforce.
Avoid dictating to staff what you think will make a good company culture, because chances are you’ll get it wrong. For example, when we suggested unlimited annual leave as a possible benefit, our team decided against it. They believed encouraging everyone to take their full allowance, rather than a system where some would inevitably take very little time off, would be a much healthier setup. Without involving staff, we might’ve implemented a “perk” that did more bad than good.
Think creatively, but get the basics right
A creative company culture doesn’t mean providing off-the-wall perks at the expense of providing the basics. A business who gives staff free ice cream every Friday, but no flexible working policy, isn’t going to win any prizes for company culture.
Insert obvious metaphor here 👀
So make sure you get the basics right first. This means providing benefits like remote/flexible working opportunities, a pension, a generous holiday allowance, and training budget. Once you have this down, you can start to think creatively. We’ve offered our staff opportunities to work abroad, take part in our annual hackathon, and go trampolining. Just remember to offer perks that will actually resonate with your staff – and that requires asking them for feedback (see above!)
Understand that everyone’s needs are different
Everyone is different, and one person’s version of what’s fun will be another’s worst nightmare. If rambunctious nights out every Friday is the only company social on offer, you will likely leave a few people excluded – an element that can easily be overlooked. The point of a good company culture is to be as inclusive as possible, so make sure you offer your staff a well-balanced and varied selection of activities. Again, this means getting your staff involved in the consultation processes.
Consider the bigger picture
Why bother with all this company culture stuff? Well, it’s proven to attract top talent and increase staff retention; boost employee engagement and productivity; create brand ambassadors who promote business reputation; and contributes to business growth. So if you feel yourself questioning whether company culture is worth the investment (spoiler alert: it is!), remember that it plays a significant part in the bigger picture of your business.