Culture can make or break a company. Having a strong company culture not only fuels employee engagement in the workplace, but also encourages customer interaction as well. Companies like Disney, Google, Twitter, and Zappos have employees and customers alike falling in love with their brands, driving sales, and lending to business success.
Company culture sets the tone for everything within the business, including how staff members interact with each other, the positions held by each employee, who are chosen as new hires joining the team, and how the employees treat the customers. However, not every company has culture. Some try to build one but fail. According to a survey conducted by Bain & Company, fewer than 10 percent of companies succeed at building a strong company culture. How can something so important to business success be so hard to achieve? What is the secret to building a company culture that employees rally behind and customers support?
- Build Culture with a Purpose
To begin building company culture, you have to identify the company’s purpose. Why does your company exist? What is your mission? Once you identify your company’s “why,” build enthusiasm for it. Help employees understand the purpose and make them part of projecting it from the inside out. Companies with an authentic and inspirational purpose have stronger employee support and loyal customers.
- Work with Great People
Culture is shaped mostly by how your employees and company leaders act in the workplace. Make sure every hire is someone who embodies the type of company you want to be. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, then, hire people to fill in the gaps where you and others fall short. Understand the importance of diversity and hire a collective of employees that will lend and borrow from each other’s talents.
Don’t forget that your leaders should be the strongest representation of the company’s purpose. They must project everything the company stands for when interacting with customers, employees, and each other. These types of leaders should have more than just an incredible work ethic and passion for what they do, they should also have a cultural ethic. What they do and how they do it has the powers to inspire others.
- Empower Your People
You empower people by adopting a management style that does not micromanaging their every move. Trust your employees to do their job tasks without constant direction. Empower them to make projects their own by giving general guidelines rather than explicit, detailed directions. Informed employees who make their own decisions are more involved in a company. And the more freedom people have to take on tasks, manage them, find solutions, and execute them, the more they feel connected to and woven into the company’s culture.
- Create Work-Life Balance
We all need the opportunity to take a step back and disconnect from the world. While you want employees to work hard, you need to recognize that work-life integration exists and it is significant to making employees feel supported and appreciated on and off the job. It is important to make sure each employee is personally fulfilled and thinking clearly. Understand that sometimes life will get in the way of business and everyone should be allowed to take care of pressing personal matters.
Don’t forget that a little bit of fun goes a long way when it comes to how employees feel in the workplace. Find ways to engage employees in activities that feel less like work. Consider taking your team on a retreat designed to help them relax, get to know each other, and build on their teamwork skills. Doing something outside of the workplace will allow your employees the freedom to relax, have fun, and feel appreciated.
- Allow Culture to Evolve
Company culture is not something you implement today and expect it to take hold tomorrow, nor is it something that will live forever. It takes months, even years of work to build a successful culture. It needs to be nurtured, taken care of, and allowed to grow. Over the years, culture will have highs and lows. As your company grows, the business processes, structure, and hierarchy you put into place will allow you to put your ideal culture into practice. Be careful not to hold on to your idea of the perfect company culture too tightly. Allow the people you hire to add their own flare to your company’s culture. Encourage new ideas and embrace changes. Without a willingness to evolve, you run the risk of choking out your company culture and creating one where employees feel forced to accept a vision they do not share. Instead, rally around the idea that you are “all in this together” and let that attitude build a sense of unity. Let your company’s culture take shape and grow with your employees and they’ll extend that same sense of unity to your customers.