You can usually tell during the interview process whether or not a candidate will be a “good fit” for your team and office culture. But building a positive office culture is about more than just hiring people with a certain je ne se quois. Your company culture is made up of the values, beliefs and behaviors of everyone in your office – both management and employee – and is also reflective of your company’s overall goals. Culture defines both how employees see themselves as contributors as well as how outsiders perceive your business. Pinpointing exactly what you want your office culture to be will help you to hire the best possible applicant while also showcasing what makes your office an enriching and enticing place to work.
These ten tips will help you identify and improve your company’s culture.
1. Align your office culture with your company’s goals.
Before you can make improvements to your company’s existing culture, it’s a good idea to identify the kind of environment you hope to encourage at work. Do you need your employees to wear a suit and tie into the office all week, or is every day “casual Friday?” Does your business require a small, tight-knit staff working toward expansion or some friendly competition to boost sales? Make sure that the culture you’re building actively benefits the overall goals of your business. Be transparent with your team about what the company is trying to accomplish – and how.
2. Help your team get on the same page.
Are your company goals as clear to your employees as they are to you? If you don’t have one already, create a list of core-values ranging anywhere from the day-to-day mission of your business to the more lofty, long-term goals of your company. Employees who see their own beliefs mirrored in the company’s mission will feel more motivated and satisfied in their role than those who don’t enjoy their work or believe in the organization they work for.
3. Embrace transparency.
Culture is made up of things that are hard to see, but that doesn’t mean the way your employees feel in the office should be invisible to management. Providing space for employees to share their personalities, stories and inspirations is crucial to developing a tight-knit and communicative team. Similarly, employees should be provided with an avenue to interact with management and privately air concerns. Overall, general employees have a different day-to-day experience at work than middle or senior management, providing unique and insightful perspectives that management doesn’t always see. Promoting an office culture that values sharing and encourages problem solving is crucial to building trust, balance and productivity among your team.
4. Create a collaborative environment.
The benefits of a collaborative workplace are well known, but building that environment doesn’t happen overnight. Collaboration requires trust from the top down, from the bottom up and laterally, at all levels. Your team should feel comfortable taking risks and confident that their mistakes will not be held against them indefinitely. Creating mentorship opportunities for new employees can help build that trust from day one. But, developing these relationships over the long term requires that employees are not treated like numbers – they need to feel appreciation, support, and a sense of belonging from their colleagues as well as from their higher-ups.
5. Learn to say “thank you” (and teach your employees to do the same).
Actively showing gratitude isn’t just a trend, it’s incredibly beneficial. Studies show that a simple “thank you” goes a long way in making people feel listened to, respected and valued. Sending a thank you note to an employee who has gone above-and-beyond or successfully finished a particularly challenging project is an easy way to make your employees know that their work matters and is valuable to you.
6. Be flexible.
Flexible hours and schedules are one of the most sought-after employee benefits. Providing flex hours helps employees know they will be able to be more present in their lives outside of work. Flex time tells your employees that you see them as individuals and not only do you value the work they do for you, but you respect their personal lives as well. Identify when it’s crucial for employees to be in the office, what kind of work can be done from home and which employees would benefit most from flexible schedules.
7. Acknowledge that your employees have lives outside the office.
The employees who are most successful at work also feel that they can maintain a fulfilling, separate home life. Encourage employees to have a positive work-life balance by promoting personal and family time, encouraging the development of interests outside of the office and offering wellness activities and continuing education. This will show your employees that you care for their wellbeing but will also actively prevent burnout and promote creative thinking – which, in the long run, is beneficial to everyone involved.
8. Invest in financial wellness.
Seven out of ten employees suffer from financial stress. That means, whether you know it or not, nearly three quarters of your staff is stressed about their finances. Financial stress leads to lower productivity due to distracted employees, high levels of absenteeism and higher healthcare costs. Offering services that help employees reduce stress by tackling debt, learning how to balance finances and reorganizing their financial lives is a great way to improve employee morale, thus, employee productivity and your company’s bottom line.
9. Seek out employee feedback.
An important part of understanding and improving office culture is listening to how your employees feel about their interpersonal relationships at work, learning their individual capacities to take on new projects and asking about their overall work experience. Having quarterly interviews (check-ins) not only makes employees feel that their input matters, but it will also help you gauge what changes to the office environment could be made.
10. Don’t be shy about treating your staff.
Work shouldn’t be a place where a person loses their individuality. Celebrate your employees’ unique accomplishments, milestones and personal achievements. Regular acknowledgements and personalized birthday gifts can let employees know their work is noticed and appreciated. Impromptu staff lunches and catered breakfasts are great ways to show your entire staff that you appreciate their hard work and loyalty. People want to be employed in an environment where their efforts are acknowledged and rewarded. It’s never a bad time say thank you to your employees that work hard in order to make your company the best it can be.