It’s not enough to develop innovative products and creative marketing that take customers by storm. If you want to build a thriving company and put it on a long-term trajectory for growth, you have to pay attention to the foundation of the organization. We’re talking about culture!
The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Company Culture
Company culture is a big deal. It’s a bigger deal than almost any business leaders give it credit for. However, the ones who do tend to build faster and stronger than the competition.
“Company culture is defined as the values, practices and beliefs shared internally by employees, staff and managers, and reflected externally to clients, customers, stakeholders and vendors,” Timely explains. “Think of it as the DNA of your corporation, informing behaviors across your entire team.”
Company culture consists of everything from the day-to-day policies of the organization to the way people are treated. A strong, well-defined culture motivates people to show up on a daily basis and gives them a sense of focus and purpose. It energizes and encourages. A negative (or non-existent) culture, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired.
Unhappy and dissatisfied employees tend to come into the office and do the absolute bare minimum. They clock in, clock out, and spend the time in between surviving and complaining. Talented people who feel unappreciated – which is what happens in a company without any culture – tend to quit and find alternative options.
But the value of culture goes beyond any one individual employee. According to McKinsey research of 1,000 organizations employing three million people, those with top quartile cultures generate 60 percent more value to shareholders than median companies (and 200 percent more than those in the bottom quartile).
Another added benefit that nobody talks about much is the fact that culture is difficult for other companies to replicate. While a company might be able to copy your products or even steal some of your marketing ideas, they can’t touch your culture. This gives you a massive advantage and helps differentiate your organization from the pack.
Tips for Building a Thriving Tech Culture
Culture is obviously important. The challenge is creating a thriving culture for your tech organization when there are so many other things vying for your focus and attention.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
1. Prioritize Connectedness
Human beings are wired for connection. Our species is designed for relational activity and interaction. Even introverts thrive when they’re around other people (though it looks different than it does for extroverts). With that said, it’s important that you prioritize connectedness.
In a physical workplace, it’s fairly easy to create connections. Even something as simple as lunch in the breakroom or a meeting in a conference room can be considered an opportunity for forging closer connections.
In a remote work environment, it’s much more challenging. You have to be very intentional about how you create a sense of togetherness and community. One suggestion is to use video whenever you can. When you’re able to see people’s faces in meetings, it makes it much easier to create connections.
2. Protect Your Team’s Mental Health and Wellness
Your employees care about the way you make them feel. (At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all care about? We don’t really care about outcomes – just how the outcomes make us feel.) Keeping this in mind, it’s important that you invest in your team’s mental health and wellness.
In a healthy culture, employees feel cared for and supported. They don’t feel overwhelmed or chronically stressed. There’s space for them to slow down and process their emotions. Co-workers are understanding and supportive. Employees feel like they can open up about their feelings without being stigmatized.
One simple suggestion is to create regular mental health days. Whether it’s once a month or once per quarter, you set aside time for employees to care for their mental health. You can do this by giving them the day off or offering onsite mental health activities.
3. Build People Up With Incentives
There’s a time and place for implementing consequences as a way of holding people accountable. However, too much accountability without any focus on positive reinforcement will actually demotivate your team.
One of the best things you can do is build your employees up with active incentives. The good news is that you don’t have to give out monetary rewards and cash bonuses to motivate your employees. In fact, cash isn’t even the best choice. It’s all about recognition.
According to Human Resources Director, “Almost 90% of HR leaders say that they have an employee recognition program and it enhances their company culture. Correspondingly, 50% of employees are highly likely to leave a company that does not praise or thank them for their work.”
One simple suggestion is to give out corporate recognition awards and plaques whenever there are major accomplishments. This may include sales awards, years of service awards, or even board member awards for stakeholders.
4. Embrace Transparency From the Top
Countless studies have revealed that workers believe transparency at a management level is the number one factor determining workplace happiness and satisfaction. Having transparent leadership can positively impact motivation, productivity, and overall wellness. Thus, if you’re serious about developing a strong culture, it starts with being open and honest.
Embracing transparency means keeping employees in the loop and not trying to mask or “spin” negative news. It means giving employees clear directions and expectations so they understand what’s happening at all levels of the organization. When employees are kept in the loop, they’re much more likely to feel like a part of the company.
Set Your Company Up for Success
Any investment made into the culture of your company will have a positive impact on the growth and maturation of your organization. It can feel slow at first, but the results will compound. And if you combine a thriving culture with a compelling product and attractive branding….well, you might just be onto something!