Good company culture is essential for a company to sustain itself for a long time. However, workplace culture in itself is a huge domain free to be explored and experimented with by the leadership as well as employees of a company
So what is company culture, why it is necessary, and how as a founder of a startup you can present it to your audience?
What is Company Culture?
By definition company culture refers to a set of beliefs and values that are important to the company. In a simpler context, it’s the way employees feel about the work they do, the values they believe in, where they see the company going and what they’re doing to get it there. Together all of these traits build the company’s personality.
Why is it important?
The first thing that a prospective hire does, is look up a company’s culture. A well-structured and well-reputed company culture will not only help a company to hire amazing talent but more importantly retain that talent pool.
Some benefits of great work culture are:
• Engaged and happy employees
• Lower employee turnover rates
• Reduced recruitment and retention costs
• Increased team morale
• Higher productivity and better overall output
• Positive company image
• Higher customer satisfaction
• Rapid Growth
How to present culture?
Even though many founders do understand the importance of strong company culture and have managed to bring in some great ideas, they lack in the presentation of it. As a result, their hard work doesn’t show results over time and leads to frustration over time. Poor presentation of culture is detrimental to a company and can lead to the breakdown of the entire work structure over time
The following are 5 tips that can help you present your company culture in the right way:
1. Have clarity in your presentation
Most companies have their own set of unique beliefs and values that they wish to present to their current and potential employees. But most of the time they lack clarity in the way they put them forward. To bring clarity to your culture, it is important for the leadership to sit together and put those values on paper. When you transfer them from your head to a paper you will get a clearer picture of what you want your company to actually stand for.
Creating a presentation deck out of it is also a good move. When you approach prospective candidates, you can use this deck to portray a vivid image of what they can expect while working for you, which in turn will build trust among them. This deck can also be utilized while onboarding employees to ingrain in their minds the core values of your company and remind them of what they should practice during their working period with you.
You can also organize team sessions once in 6 months (as frequent sessions will be tiresome) to help all the employees and management revisit your company's values and make any modifications if required.
2. Build your Socials
This one is a no-brainer. As we already discussed the first thing prospective hires tend to do is look up the company on their socials. According to a study by Global jobs website Glassdoor, 56% of workers ranked a strong workplace culture is more important than salary, with more than three-in-four workers saying they’d consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there.
Thus, it is absolutely important for your company to have a good social presence with a lot of content around employee engagement and satisfaction. Especially, in today’s world where work from home is normalized and candidates are hardly able to interact with their colleagues; no engagements on online channels can lead to doubts and low trust. Therefore, make sure to build your socials right from the start. As the company’s founder, if you are also active on a social media platform and constantly advocating your company’s culture, it will lead to add more value to your company’s words and build greater trust among your audience. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are good platforms to showcase your values. Having a dedicated website with plenty of information about the company is quite common but you should also focus on creating a culture page that will highlight your practices for your prospects.
3. Experiment Experiment Experiment
A strong foundational culture is important to building a steady base. But it is also important to switch it up from time to time to increase your employee and workplace culture engagement. You do not have to give your workplace culture a complete makeover but can experiment by introducing new ideas to your team. The recent transformation to hybrid workplace culture is a new feature that most companies are experimenting with.
Fintech startup Slice rolled out a 3-day work week policy with a salary at 80% of the going market rate for its employees. This step was taken with the idea to allow employees their own interests outside of work or even other freelancing opportunities.
You can also consider concentrating on building a good culture that prioritizes your employees’ mental health. A Gallup poll found that 23% of employees felt burned out often or always while 44% felt burned out sometimes. Together, you have about 70% of your employees struggling with this issue. For example, you can provide your employees with free counseling sessions or organize fun activities outside of the monotonous working schedule. Or you can also provide them with mental health breaks which help them rejuvenate themselves and come back with increased productivity. Apart from this, you can also experiment with different aspects of your company like the perks and benefits you provide, the management style, the workflow in teams, etc.
Of course, all experiments may not necessarily be a hit. It is also possible that you might miss sometimes but that shouldn’t hinder you from taking initiative and introducing new ideas from time to time.
4. Listen to your employees
As a founder, you should never have a disconnect with your team. It is important that they feel heard and are comfortable enough to share their issues with you without fearing the wall of hierarchy. This obviously becomes more difficult as you keep growing with time. It might obviously not be possible for you to interact with all your employees directly due to various reasons.
However, there are other ways to hear their voice.
• Companies that already have a small dedicated HR team can circulate periodic surveys which can be a good way to listen to the problems faced by a majority of your team. Build an anonymous safe space where employees can discuss their problems without fearing bias. You can also hold team meets every month to discuss any issues the team might be facing.
• Smaller companies without a dedicated HR Team will face a harder time, as you, the founder has to take care of everything. So, you can also introduce the Buddy System wherein, employees are assigned a buddy that is a senior employee who can act as their direct point of contact for all and any situation.
One such success story is of Springworks, where they introduced a 4-day work week after hearing their employees. This initiative was taken in order to ensure that employees are able to use time their time outside of the office, upskilling themselves, pursuing hobbies that otherwise are difficult to do so. They decided to run this experiment with one team and promised transparency in their results. After 30 days it was seen, that it proved to be a huge morale booster for the team and their enthusiasm to work and productivity levels had also increased. As a result, they decided to continue this policy and even extended it further to other teams.
This is a classic example of how listening to your employees can prove to be useful in building your company’s culture.
1. Build advocates for your company
When a prospective hire looks your company up, it is vital that they see something positive which will convince them to consider you as a potential employer. Seeing a bad review will probably influence their decision negatively. So you have to make sure, that your company is being talked about in a positive light outside of your 4 walls.
Your employees are your biggest advocates when it comes to building your company’s culture. When your employee leaves a positive review on Glassdoor or talks about it on LinkedIn and Twitter, it adds a lot of value and showcases a strong office culture.
But your advocates shouldn’t be limited only to your employees. You should have a strong enough culture that will persuade not only your employees but also anybody else who interacts with your company.
Zappos has a unique policy wherein new employees are offered $2,000 to quit after the first week of training if they decide the job isn’t for them.
Of course, this is not realistic for a lot of new emerging startups. So instead of monetary support, you can focus on providing superior candidate experience.
To provide this superior experience you can try the following tips:
• Prepare the candidates for success and not failure that is by making sure the candidate is aware of what to prepare ahead of the interview, helping them with any queries and doubts
• Engaging with the candidate throughout the entire process by informing them about
• After the interview makes sure to provide feedback to candidates even if they did not clear the round. Constructive feedback can help them improve and secure other roles in your company or elsewhere
• Let them know of other opportunities in your company once the cooldown period is over,
With such consideration, you are bound to create advocates out of all the people who are not part of your family.
Building a good company culture takes time and effort. It isn’t something that can be built overnight, or even weeks or months. But that shouldn’t discourage you from practicing it. Even the companies with the best workplace culture had to endure a long time before they were able to stand in the position they are in now. Consistency is the key here and it is consistency that will help you build a company that will make a difference. Take baby steps. Find your own north star- the values you want your company to stand for and build your culture around it