What is your organization like when the boss isn’t in the room? Is there a muted sigh of relief? A feeling that tasks can finally be accomplished? Or, is there a sense of empowerment that the instructions set in place allow for both structure and creative freedom?
Your answer to this question is the diagnosis of your company’s organizational culture.
Organizational culture can be make-or-break for the life and success of a company. When employees feel unhappy, stressed, or micromanaged, productivity decreases. Culture is also a huge factor in why people leave jobs. 47% of active job seekers cited their organizational culture as the reason they were looking for work.
Thankfully, creating a great organizational culture doesn’t have to involve redirecting cash towards $3,000 espresso machines or high-tech ping-pong tables (although if you can, great!). Often, small changes made at the top level of management can have a big effect on improving company culture.
Here are just a few examples:
Hire the right people
Get ahead of the curve before your employee even steps foot in the door. During the interview process, clearly lay out your company values and see if your candidate is a good fit. When you’re not in the room, these values will guide employee decision-making, so it’s crucial to hire people who know and embrace them up front.
When you hire employees who are a good fit for your culture upfront, you’re also investing in their future happiness in the company- and lowering turnover rates, as well.
Wondering how to hire well? We’ve written a blog post on how we hire remotely for a great cultural fit. Even if you’re in the office, a lot can translate from the process we have in place at Kin. Check it out here.
Create space for recognition and reward
Recognizing achievements among your employees on a regular basis is crucial to establishing a culture worth replicating. Recognizing individuals’ work publicly helps satisfy Maslow’s higher-order needs (social, self-esteem) while also setting a precedent for how work should be performed by others. Creating a culture of positive recognition can also increase employee retention drastically, with some studies claiming up to 60%.
Don’t just provide the recognition yourself. Encourage the rest of your team to contribute. Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh, provides opportunities at the end of monthly meetings for employees to shout out individuals they feel embodied each company value that month. At Kin, we did this by bringing in Bonus.ly, a microbonus tool that allows us to not only publicly recognize a colleagues efforts, but give them a small bonus, too. It has not only helped us celebrate each other, it’s also let the team as a whole see little accomplishments they may not have prior to Bonus.ly shout outs.
Although recognition feels great and goes a long way in laying the foundation for a positive culture, following up with a tangible reward can give credence to praise. Reward behaviors, not just outcomes, and don’t think you have to tie a dollar value to a specific reward. Taking a team member out to lunch, giving an afternoon off, or even providing an unsolicited LinkedIn recommendation can go a long way in making employees feel their work is valued in a meaningful way.
Show you’re invested in their wellbeing outside of work
Employees are more than just employees. They are spouses, parents, partners, artists, athletes, pet owners, students- the list goes on. Investing in the lives of employees beyond simply the 9-5 benefits the company as a whole. In fact, managers who developed a wellbeing program for employees saw reduced turnover, increased engagement, and better customer service.
Whether it’s a discounted gym membership, bring your dog to work day, or a discretionary educational stipend, the positive results on mental health and creativity can go a long way for your team. In addition, it does stellar things for your reputation as an employer and can attract top talent.
Give everyone a voice
One of PepsiCo’s most profitable products, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, came from the mind of a janitor at a Frito Lay plant. Richard Montañez’s idea for a hot chip inspired by grilled street corn would have gone nowhere if CEO Roger Enrico hadn’t taken his phone call and given him two weeks to prepare a pitch for the product- the rest is history.
The best ideas can come from anywhere in the company. Removing silos in communication and making it clear you are open to ideas from anywhere can contribute significantly to both your bottom line and employee morale. Provide opportunities for brainstorming and give intrapreneurship a place in your quarterly or yearly meetings. Giving team members the opportunity to contribute their ideas and solutions increases engagement and a feeling of belonging.
Aim for transparency
Employees need to feel they can trust senior management in order to perform well, fulfilling the lower-order needs of safety and security. Keep team members in the loop with frequent and clear top-down communication and keep an open-door policy for when anyone has questions that need face-to-face interactions. Don’t hide from uncomfortable discussions. Transparency at the top pays off. Employees are more engaged, retention increases, and problem-solving is made quicker by removing barriers.
At the end of the work day, organizational culture is something that follows team members home in either a positive or negative way. This year, take a look at your company culture and find ways you can make improvements for the sake of your both employees and ROI.