When you look at some of the most successful and innovative companies in the world you can’t ignore what their culture and philosophy is like. If there is anything valuable about a company for the people and employees involved – it is its culture.
We’ve seen the rise of big companies including Google that have become renowned for their positive company culture. And what’s the end result? Well basically it means lots of people want to work there. At Company Formation MadeSimple, we’re keen to promote this value – as people wanting to work with your business means a more successful business overall.
But is company culture a fad, or the way forward? Here we set out to answer that question and determine some good ideas to instigate in your own business.
What’s The Big Deal With Company Culture?
So you think company culture is no big deal? Well, you might be forgiven for that. After all, as a business owner the main goal is making money – culture comes second. But actually the two go hand in hand.
A good company culture can mean happier and more motivated workers, which ultimately means that the company is better, and more profitable, as a whole. But is this all talk? Where’s the proof.
Well, to be fair the proof is largely theoretical, but it makes sense. There are people working on the evidence based proof though. Co-founder of business association Small Giants, Paul Spiegelman, wrote for Inc.com that a research project was to be launched in August 2014 with the Center For Values-Driven Leadership.
This was to provide “evidence-based research project to examine the connection between values and culture and company profits. The study will include comprehensive case studies of more than 30 small and medium companies”. So the evidence based proof is on the way.
But let’s look at a few theories supporting the hypothesis that good company culture means a better functioning business – and therefore better profits:
- It Promotes Resolution – By providing a set of values to your employees you can more easily resolve conflict as everyone has a clear and established way of thinking. This helps to “break down silos” as Paul Spiegelman wrote in the above article. Cliques and factions are never good, and common values make the process of getting the whole business working in harmony much easier.
- It Makes Decisions Easier – There are many ways management could react to a situation, but with a solid culture to look to they can more easily have their decisions defined for them. This makes for greater efficiency as decisions can be made quicker, but also there is a reduction in reactionary decisions as the pre-defined response framework is there as guidance beforehand.
- It Keeps Your Team Going In The Same Direction – There are many reasons why a company is inefficient, one of which being different departments vying to do different things that contradict other departments. When everyone is pulling or pushing in a different direction it’s a much more difficult task to move forward – but with a company culture you can connect all departments to a larger goal, and ultimately promote greater harmony.
So, that’s the theory. Basically, the better the company culture the happier and more efficient employees are. As a result, company culture is not a fad – it is most certainly the way forward.
With that in mind – let’s explore a few of the things you can do in your own business.
Lunch & Learn
During the research for this piece I asked around about company culture. I talked to Kendra Moroz on Quora, and she had some interesting advice about practical steps to promoting good company culture in a small business.
Kendra works as Director of Engagement for objective and key performance results tracking company 7Geese, so knows a thing or two about what it takes to empower teams. She said the weekly ‘lunch and learn’ was a great way to organise a team and get everyone promoting “the value we uphold of being a learning organization and striving for ongoing development”.
She detailed the event:
“Every Wednesday one or two team members present on a topic of interest for the rest of the team during an organization paid lunch hour where we order food from a local restaurant. But, these lunches are not just simple team building exercises. If you were to sit in on one you would see that they are focused on topics relating back to our business and industry, benefiting the knowledge growth of the entire team”.
Paying for lunch once a week is a great way to show your employees you value their input, and attaching a strong company culture component can help make your employees focus more easily.
Even if you can’t pay for lunch, you could still organise a ‘team lunch’ or similar once a week to get together and do a similar thing. Eating and sharing in conversation is a great way for teams to bond.
One of the things that makes a business more functional is avoiding waste and inefficiency, and a strong recycling culture within your company can help promote this culture very well. It’s also a great way to promote your company as an ethical one – and this is beneficial to both employees within your company and customers outside of it alike.
It’s very easy to start a recycling program within your company and promote these values. Consider the following:
- Provide Recycling – If you don’t provide a separate bin for glass and other recyclables then how can you expect employees to recycle at all? Get the bins and facilities in place and you will find yourself much more able to inspire people to use them.
- Make A Game Of It – Whether it’s an occasional presentation or documentary on the importance of recycling or basketball hoops above the bins, making recycling fun is very good for promoting it as a culture.
- Organise – Recycling isn’t just about bottles and paper, it’s a very rich concept. Organise a ‘swap shop’ for staff to bring in their old electronics, clothes, books and anything else – this way these items can have a new lease of life. And if there’s anything left, you can donate it to a local charity.
Recycling is a very good thing for your company, as it helps the environment, but it’s also great as a way to get people to come together and work towards a shared goal. This value is immensely useful in business and people having a strong sense of this is a real benefit for business.
It’s great to plan fun little events or do things that are a little bit different to promote your company culture, but another key aspect is organisational culture. These are useful as they are beneficial to your overall business.
Take the following examples of practical ‘organisational culture’ that can help your business:
- Meetings – We don’t want to waste time with needless meetings, make one of the values of your culture ‘we don’t waste time’ and make sure employees know that a purpose and solid objectives for your meetings are essential, otherwise time is probably spent more wisely on other tasks. Nobody likes pointless meetings, so it’s an easy value to get people on board with.
- Feedback – Using surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and get management feedback is a valuable way to improve your management practices. These can be done anonymously using apps like Google Forms and really help employees feel engaged, and their feedback is valued more when there are regular surveys done. Anonymity ensures employees will answer honestly. Remember you can’t just get feedback for good company culture, you have to act on it.
- Rewards – Next time you have a company meeting, take the time to single a few people out for praise. You could design little flyers saying ‘well done’ or you might even add some vouchers of £5 or £10. Anything you can do to make them feel involved and appreciated is great, you could even just give them little treats like sweets as a reward if you want.
Practical organisational culture is a very good example of making your company more efficient. There are so many ways you might want to promote your culture, but these examples are very easy to implement and they don’t make a huge dent in the budget.
Company Culture – Growing Into A Better Business
The cool thing about company culture is that it grows much like a culture of bacteria, but with much more positive outcomes. There are many things you can do, even if you don’t have the budget to subsidise things like lunch for your team.
The key is making a start, and once you do that you can grow your company culture into something substantial – and your business itself too.
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