Company culture is a vital part of any successful business model. Happy employees equal happy clients. This is not a new phenomenon—it’s Business 101. But in today’s competitive global marketplace, maintaining a thriving (and happy) office environment often gets pushed to the bottom of a CEO’s to-do list.
When I launched STRV, a mobile app and web development studio, more than a decade ago, I didn’t give much thought to company culture. There were just five of us crammed in a tiny shared office space with one toilet, working round the clock to make ends meet. I didn’t have the time (or, let’s face it, the cash) to plan elaborate team building retreats or Friday night mixers.
Today, my “little” studio now has more than 100 employees in five offices, actively working on projects for top U.S. startups. Company culture, I can assure you, is one of my top priorities. It should be yours as well, regardless if you’re a seasoned chief executive or just starting out. Improving your company’s culture doesn’t have to break your budget, but investing in your employees will certainly improve your bottom line. I guarantee it!
Here are eight tips that will help you grow your company’s culture:
- Validate the achievements of the company as well as the individual employees. If something good happens at the company—a project wins an award, the sales team lands a big client, an employee is promoted—spread the word. Your office’s internal message boards are a good place to start, whether it’s through Slack or old school flyers throughout the office. Highlighting the achievements of your company and employees sends a positive message, not only to your team but also to your clients (and potential clients), so make sure to broadcast good news on all your public social networking networks, as well!
- Personalize your employees’ birthday gifts. Everyone likes to be remembered on their special day, even if they don’t want to admit it. Cake, flowers, balloons—take your pick, but make sure it’s a consistent part of your social calendar. We use Slack, which automatically sends out birthday well wishes on our #social channel. CEOs should also make time to personally wish his or her employee a great day. The good cheer is followed up with a cake with our company logo and a personalized message to the birthday person, as well as a gift certificate to popular restaurant chain for later use.
- Create welcome kits/care packages for an employee’s first day on the job. The first day of any new job is always stressful. Make sure to have a detailed onboarding process in place. Personally greet each new employee, and ask them what they are hoping to get out of their new job. A welcome kit is also a good idea. Ours includes an employee manual, a guidebook to how our company operates, as well as a number of fun sundries like a company “superheroes” T-shirt, water bottle, laptop sleeve, stickers, and pens.
- Draw people from different departments together. Find ways to bring people from other departments together. Sure, team building events would certainly fit into this category. But I suggest introducing a more regular one-on-one program. At STRV, we have “Lucky Lunches,” where two team members are picked to go to lunch together at random during a weekly drawing. Several lunch “dates” are set up each week, and the tab is picked up by the company. This really helps facilitate cross-department company culture.
David Semerad is a driven entrepreneur with experience in software development. He grew his mobile/digital app development company STRV.
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