Culture is a bit of a buzzword in the new world of business, much more than it used to be. It has taken on a new life in the last decade, especially in the tech sector, as companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook have created large campuses with restaurants, movie theaters, rock climbing walls, slides, and more. This is mostly done for two reasons. Firstly, the goal is to make work so fun that employees don’t want to look for another job. And secondly, so that employees feel energized while at work. This embodies the idea that mixing work and play can help employees to be more focused while working, and less stressed throughout the day. It’s sort of like playground recess for adults.
The struggle for small businesses and some medium-sized businesses to emulate this is difficult. It’s hard to invest a few hundred dollars into an office ping-pong table when that’s all the profit your business made last week. So, how can you create a great culture without all the pricey amenities?
It Starts From The Top
The owner and management team have to set the standard from day one. The management team must set the tone for the rest of the office. Find ways to be concise and professional while still allowing yourself and your employees to be relaxed and happy at work. Casual Friday and competitions like Minute-to-win-it Wednesday help to create this culture. Allowing your employees to talk together and grow relationships aids this culture. Set time aside to get to know your employees. Casual, one-on-one conversations will show that you care about them as individuals, and that will reflect in their work. Also, don’t be afraid to try to provide some amenities. You can buy a ping pong table for half the price at a thrift shop and you can buy fancy Jura refurbished coffee makers for a discount of thousands of dollars. You just have to be savvy with your shopping.
Culture Is Branding
Your culture identity is part of your branding. Take a look at BambooHR, a company based in Utah that makes software for things like HR management and PTO Tracking. Year after year, they win culture awards for being a great place to work, and their customer base knows it. Their customers and business partners are invited to a convention each year hosted by BambooHR, where they get to experience a few days at world-class ski resorts and enjoy Ritzy amenities, all while keeping up to date on the software and tech industry. The BambooHR Summit event has become part of their brand as being a fun, dependable, and professional company.
How can a small company do this? Host an annual cookout event, or set up a charity race in your city. Maybe you could sponsor a recreational league in your town, such as a soccer or slow-pitch softball league. Get creative with your marketing, and invite all of your employees to join in the events.
“Celebrate Good Times, Come On”
Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. These are some of the most celebrated and exciting times of the year. Join the fun! And not just these, but all of the holidays. Include Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Halloween, Martin Luther King Day, and more! A few decorations, like an artificial Christmas tree in the foyer, do a lot to boost morale, as it helps employees to feel like they are celebrating at work, rather than waiting to get home to begin their celebration. Most companies also host an end-of-year party where prizes are given out and people are commended for their hard work all year. Look for ways to create fun on these days.
Choose Employees Wisely
Your business will succeed or fail with your employees. No owner or manager can simply will a business to be successful. They must work well with the employees to make this happen, and as such, it is vital that you hire the right people. This is the most important thing you will read in this article: Your people are your culture. When it comes to business, this is the ultimate truth. If you hire a bunch boring average Joe’s, then good luck creating a diverse, talented, and enjoyable team. Seek out diversity, and not just in race and gender. Seek out different backgrounds, different educations, and different origins. Represent your customer base within your office, and you have a much better chance of reaching your customers effectively. It also creates a more cohesive and flexible team of employees who are resilient to change and embrace hard work. Future candidates will want to work for you when they hear about the great people who also work there.
Good luck in your business endeavors. Strive to create a great culture to backup your great business and your success will be much more likely.