I spend an embarrassing amount of time on social media, I like to justify this as I’m a digital marketer, however, the truth is, I just love looking at awesome pictures. Every time I stumble across some big companies’ posts about their new foosball table, superb barista coffee machine or giant indoor slide, I think to myself “no way, nobody works for such a cool company”. It almost looks like it was staged for the photo.
I then think about how lucky I am. I think of 10to8 Appointment Scheduling Software, we have a positive company culture, despite the fact that we don’t have enormous beanbag chairs and flying ponies. (We do have nerf guns to shoot each other to grab colleagues attention, however, I’m not sure if it counts as ‘building positive company culture’.)
We have management that hires new talent that fits our team, a team that cares. (As funny as it sounds after nerf guns, it’s true.)
After some research, I found that it is, in fact, a goal for companies to build a culture that improves upon employee loyalty and helps with hiring new team members.
Staples has carried out an extensive survey to discover how office workers feel in their workspace. They have found that one-in-five describe their working environment as ‘depressing’, 97% feel frustrated at work and 89% of UK office workers regularly think about changing jobs.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do for your employees’ mental health and well-being. Believe it or not, most of these things do not involve expensive equipment but some attention and help. So let’s dive in!
Building a positive company culture should start with positive management and senior employees. Management should always set an example and behave the way they want the employees to do so.
Peter Done, Managing Director and founder of employment law consultancy Peninsula, says that organizational support plays a pivotal role:
“It should be noted that a true company culture only works when it is encompassed by all of the individuals from top to bottom, therefore businesses that truly wish to improve their company culture must ensure their managers and senior employees lead by example. In addition, it is essential to listen to the concerns and ideas of the workforce; being open to suggestions will create a more harmonious workplace and improve the company culture of the business.”
Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a UN advisor and professor at Alliance Manchester Business School, who carried out to above mentioned Staples research, agrees that how bosses behave is very important. He says that better listener skills and a positive approach to suggestions can help a lot. For example, when an employee asks for flexible working options, it should be granted if it is possible.
If the stable, positive company culture is founded, you “only” need to make smart decisions in the future. Lee Biggins, founder, and CEO of CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job board, says that looking after existing employees, will show new hires what to look forward to if they do well.
This can help with retention and office morale, whilst making team members proud of their job, which is according to Staples research is a big thing as 31% of office workers are actually ashamed of their job.
“If you know your company culture inside and out, maintaining positivity becomes easier. In order to build a great company culture, I’d recommend starting with your recruitment process. By hiring smart, you’ll avoid potential employees who’ll be difficult to work with and won’t fit in with the existing workforce. Employees are at the heart of every business and if you hire people who won’t be a good cultural fit, this will negatively affect what you’re trying to achieve.” – says Lee Biggins.
Hiring the talent that you need to scale and at the same time fits in perfectly with your existing team is not that easy, but with some planning and research, it can be done.
A disruptive working environment can negatively affect productivity and be the cause of stress. According to Staples, 81% of employees claim that their office space has an impact on their mental health. Did they mean good or bad impact, one might ask. This might answer the question: 68% would feel more valued if their organization invested in their working environment.
Having comfortable chairs, proper screens and lighting should be fundamental, and still, many offices are not satisfyingly furnished. Agreeing on a temperature that suits more or less everybody in the room is also important. Having stationery products, proper desks and organized spaces can as well improve upon the office experience.
Boring spaces like offices with cubicles can ramp down creativity. To let creativity flow, the office needs colors and inspiring design, but don’t go to the extreme and create an office full of potential distractions. A well-designed office space with positive vibes can improve on the whole company culture.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper suggests office workers have lunch together at least twice a week, and definitely not using your keyboard as a plate, having your headset on and blocking everybody out. Try to have lunch with a different colleague every time if you work in a big office and connect with others, even if only for small talk over coffee.
Organize regular team outings to let off steam a bit. At 10to8 we go out on almost every Tuesday after our Project Meeting to grab a beer or a diet coke. This works quite good for us, as we can ease into the evening after a meeting that is usually packed-full with status reports of important projects and brainstorming about new ideas, and we have at least two big team events: a summer party when we engage in physical exercise and fun tasks, a Christmas party when we try not to get food poisoning from our made-from-scratch meals.
Other companies, such as Anthesis Group, a sustainability consultancy has been piloting the so-called ‘engagement week’ which has been a great success.
“At Anthesis we run regular colleague engagement weeks and challenges around topics such as mental health, happiness, world environment day, diversity and inclusion and international women’s day. These usually involve activities such as physical exercise, writing exercise, remote training sessions, and photo challenges.”
“Engagement weeks have a real positive impact on our staff – being a business in lots of different locations, it encourages engagement between staff members who wouldn’t normally always interact, and introduces or encourages our staff to take part in some proven wellbeing techniques such as mindfulness and physical exercise.”
Gamification at work can have a big effect on company culture, as according to Staples’ study 89% of UK office workers seek fulfillment at work. Recognition programs and thought-through rewarding systems can reassure employees that they are valuable members of the team and not tiny cogs in a machine.
With the job market full of Millennials, you need to offer an appealing career path and rewards for their hard work, because they are not afraid of job-hopping for fear of being stuck in a dead-end job. Being appreciated is one of the things that can make new-gen employees stick around.
“Looking after your employees includes recognising their efforts and achievements. After all, they’re what keeps the business running. Every month, CV-Library rewards members of its departments with schemes like ‘Marketer of the Month’. Aside from professional life, look to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and significant life milestones to really make employees feel appreciated.”
This advice is coming from CEO and founder of CV-library, Lee Biggins. A statement that Peter Done from Peninsula agrees with..
“It is important that businesses celebrate employees’ success wherever possible. Having a positive approach to performance reviews will reassure employees that they are an integral part of the growth and development of the business. Whilst it is not always economically possible for small businesses to issue monetary bonuses for high performing employees you should look to acknowledge their performance in some way.”
“Performance reviews also allow underperforming employees a chance to see where they can improve. You should also take this opportunity to provide any additional support or training as required. Demonstrating a commitment to helping employees will reaffirm how much you value their involvement, in turn, the employees are likely to have a greater commitment to the business and this will inevitably lead to improved company culture.”
To sum up, here’s a set of questions to ask yourself to see if you are on the route of building a positive company culture:
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Anna is an enthusiastic Digital Marketer, who drinks her coffee with cream and trending hashtags. She loves koalas, insightful SaaS podcasts, and creating content that ranks high.
She's also the one, who jumps up and down if you share a post from the 10to8 Business Blog. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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