Corporate culture is a Friday afternoon jam sesh of early 2000s hip hop classics. It’s a field trip to a local sports game or to the movies to catch the flick everyone’s been itching to see. It’s having a food truck come to the office on a rainy day to boost everyone’s spirits. It’s also so much more than that. Before the camaraderie comes set values, understood goals, and a solid foundation supported by positive behaviors. Combined, you have a strong team of devoted and happy individuals working towards a common goal, to better your company.
Here are our 5 essential ingredients for great company culture and how you can implement them in your business:
1. Unified Values and Goals
Don’t underestimate the value of a solid mission statement. When developed, communicated, and executed consistently and across all departments core values will become an ingrained part of your culture that will not change no matter how much the company changes. As an example, we at 321 value our commitment to innovation, creativity, and growth. By reinforcing these values at meetings, during project brainstorms, and in client proposals they become a driving force behind everything we do. Highlighting short and long-term goals with specific objectives creates the ribbon at the end of the race and, unlike core values, will change as the company develops.
2. Connect and Collaborate
As a CEO or manager, instead of isolating yourself at the top, connect and collaborate with everyone at all levels. By doing so, you’re not only lending another creative mind to the team but you’re showing that you value their individual contribution. Foster a sense of mutual trust, give them general outlines, and then let them spread their wings. Don’t be afraid to get down with the fun aspects of the job either. Join in on the jam sesh or ping pong game, dress up on a holiday, even embarrass yourself a little. The more comfortable your employees feel around you the more willing they will be to reach out, thus nurturing a stronger sense of unity on all levels.
3. If the Shoe Fits, Hire Them
Hiring simply for skill is a recipe for disaster. While some candidates may technically be better at what they do, hiring people who fit into your culture will have intentions aligned with yours, a better work ethic, and a team player mentality. Furthermore, culture impacts employee retention and performance. One study found that college students would accept an average of 7 percent less starting pay to work for a company with values and culture that they appreciate. Especially if you’re running a startup, having employees who fit your fixed culture will thrive despite the growth and changes of the company. They will let their strengths shine through and will grow into their position or even create a whole new one for themselves.
4. A Step by Step Plan
It’s hard to take the ingredients mentioned so far and expect a full-course meal immediately. Developing an organizational design allows you to put your culture into practice and creates a recipe for “how you do things” in general. This includes how you reward good work, how everyone communicates with each other, how you divide responsibilities and how you hold meetings. Putting authority, responsibility, and accountability in their right place will create a healthy structure to execute your culture plan.
5. Ok, Now Have a Little Fun
Enjoying some non-work related fun is like the dessert at the end of a hearty meal. Management can start the process, set the mood, and create the right environment where employees can be productive but also not feel like they’re trapped at a cubicle all day. Pixar created the “atrium and unplanned collaboration” design that allowed various departments to interact with each other. Google created the “150-feet from food” rule, which speaks for itself, and Hubspot’s brand new office in Cambridge features “nomad desks areas” to fuel creative minds. In our office you can find everything from Play-doh to nerf guns and cabinets full of snacks. There are days when our office is dead silent as everyone works to meet deadlines, and other days when we have Jose blasting music on one side of the room, Kim watching cat videos on the other side, and Carey yelling “Bang!” through a megaphone from the conference room. It may get a little silly sometimes but no matter what the activity, a creative environment feeds innovative minds and it keeps us excited about what we do.