According to the Harvard Business Review, “culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off… It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.”
Company culture is the personality of a business. It speaks to the atmosphere created for and by everyone working there. Values, ethics, expectations, and goals all factor into either good or bad company culture. It is tantamount, then, to your business’ success that your team work in an environment they feel comfortable in; it needs to be conducive to productivity.
Author and Creator of Personal Kanban, Jim Benson, once tweeted, “better mood = better performance. Hostile or even boring work environments are not sustainable. Poor work product and attrition result.” But how is good company culture achieved? Liyema’s book (sharing) club is a unique way your employees can share information and replace pointless gossiping with intellectual engagement. If you appreciates your company’s need for help in this regard, things as simple as celebrating staff birthdays or monthly office potlucks can go a long way in creating a bond between colleagues. Below are a few more exercises and interventions you can implement to inject more positivity into your office space:
This is a cost efficient way of reinforcing the idea that employees are more than just seat-fillers. Dress-down-days remind staff that they are valued individuals with unique personalities, styles, and opinions, who, collectively contribute to the outcome of the company they work for.
Call it Funky Friday and it will encourage your coworkers to really get creative with their self expression. Heritage week will give the team a chance to celebrate their diverse cultures given the chance to dress the part.
Basic guidelines can be set to ensure no one dresses inappropriately, otherwise, let the team have fun. It’s an effective icebreaker – you might’ve never spoken to Taryn from IT before, but her purple tutu sparks a conversation about dance.
Google has been synonymous with impeccable company culture for years. Apart from the dog-friendly work spaces, free meals, in-house gyms and sleeping pods, the team-building trips they plan are fantastic. When organising yours, ensure you have enough fun activities on the schedule. If the team is dragging their feet into the trip, because they think it’s just another opportunity to be milked for labour, you won’t get much co-operation.
Get your coworkers involved in planning the team building getaway to ensure the itinerary is packed with things they’ll enjoy. A cost effective alternative can be something like the motivational meetings at Liyema. Every Monday and Friday, the staff starts their day off with an inspirational TED talk that one member has chosen to share.
Entrepreneur Network partner, Emily Richett, believes that it is important to incentivize your employees to work hard; reminding them to play hard is necessary too. Rewarding your team with monthly social events is fun for everyone. Though you shouldn’t encourage irresponsible or excessive drinking habits, you seem a great deal more approachable – as a superior – pouring everyone shots than you would behind the locked door of your office. Invite your work family to bring their spouses and partners along too. They enjoy fulfilling lives outside of the office, and taking the time to get to know a little about it certainly goes a long way in forming bonds with your colleagues.
At Liyema, there is a penalty jar where employees who slip up deposit fines. “At the end of the week, those fines, which were decided according to the level of the ‘crime’, go towards Shaza (Sparkling Wine) Fridays,” Liyema Consulting MD and founder, Ayanda Mzondeki, shares.
Giving back to your community can be a great way of reminding you to be grateful for what you have. Why not reinforce that to the entire workforce? Cultivate a culture of volunteering in your company through monthly charity packing days or participating in charity soccer tournaments. According to Sarah Landrum, founder of Punched Clocks, community service is a great way of equipping your staff with new skills. In supervising your team, you get to informally analyse the dynamics – giving you an opportunity to identify certain individuals’ strengths and areas that could use support.
Employee of The Month
A little healthy competition never hurt nobody, but it needs to remain healthy. You would hate to implement an Employee of The Month initiative only to have team members sabotaging each other to get to the top. Remind your staff that there is space for everyone in the sun, while recognising and celebrating workers who go above and beyond the call of duty – like Liyema who ring a bell when someone has made a placement, closed a deal or received a compliment from a client.
It’s important, when rewarding the Employee of The Month, that you explain what garnished the person the award. This gives others an idea of what to work on. The number of employees you acknowledge every month can change too if a particular department or project team outperforms. Give your employee(s) of the month something you know they will appreciate. A bottle of wine isn’t exciting for drinkers who could easily buy one for themselves, and it’s inappropriate for non-drinkers like Muslims or recovering alcoholics. A day off for a single parent will give them time to catch up on errands. A newly wed coworker could take their spouse out with the dinner coupon they recieve. Not only are you then rewarding your staff for working hard, but you’re showing them that you’ve taken the time to get to know them.
Seemingly insignificant suggestions, but if you implement a few, you’ll begin to notice a change in the energy of your office. You need to invest in company culture because it has the potential to increase the businesses productivity; neglect it and it has as much power to stunt your growth. All it takes is your team believing that they matter more to the employer than how much their boss can make from them.