A good company culture can create team members who enjoy going to work, have more motivation, higher levels of productivity, and are happier all-round employees. It fosters a strong sense of community where everyone is in it together, able to celebrate their successes, analyse their failures, and work towards the company’s goals as one solid unit.
In this article, we explore how to create a good company culture, so that you can create a prosperous environment that helps your business and its employees to thrive.
What is company culture?
Company culture is the shared ideas, customs, and behaviours of a company’s employees. It might be described as the company’s personality or soul, because it embodies its values and beliefs, and so influences the actions of its employees. More specifically, company culture can be reflected in the following areas of a company:
- Policies—working from home, work hours, and the like.
- Environment—the office, its location, equipment, and more.
- Values—what kind of values the company embodies, like kindness, patience, and bravery.
- Events—events that the company puts on for its staff, customers, and industry.
A company’s culture is usually defined by management, who might consciously plan out the kind of culture they want to create, and then take the necessary steps to implement it. Aspects of a company’s culture can also form naturally, influenced and shaped by employees whose personalities, traits, and ideas are supported by their colleagues, which eventually merge with the company’s character and change it for the better (or worse, if you’re not careful).
Company culture examples
Culture is often a complex and intricate set of ideas, so can be difficult to define for a particular company. Instead, here are some examples of actions or policies that a company has implemented to shape its culture:
- Work your own hours—9 to 5 doesn’t work for everyone, so if it suits your company, you might allow employees to choose their own daily work hours. They’ll just need to prove that they can produce enough value for the company to justify it. This can create a strong sense of trust and fairness.
- Work location—COVID has changed the way we work, with many companies choosing to close the office and ask their employees to work from home permanently. If the company can afford it, giving employees a choice between home and office is usually the best option, and can promote a culture of freedom and choice.
- Beer and wine taps—installing beer and wine taps in your office kitchen can help to promote a culture that is fun, relaxed, and cool.
- Office games—ping pong tables, pool tables, arcade machines, board games: these also help to promote a fun and laid back culture that can help staff to rejuvenate before returning to their desk.
- Dog-friendly—having an “office dog” or allowing team members to bring their pooch into the office is another way to create a laid back atmosphere that promotes trust among employees, and an “animal lover” image.
This list is not exhaustive—there’s so much a company can do to shape its culture, the trick is to figure out what kind of company you want to create, and then take action to create it.
Aspects of a company with a strong culture
Identify your company’s values, and how to promote them
Ultimately, culture comes out of values and beliefs, so this is a good starting point when trying to create your company’s culture. Identify some values that you want your company to represent and employees to embody, and then figure out what you can do to promote them.
An example of a value that you might want to promote is trust, and this can be integrated into your culture by allowing employees to choose their own hours (but be available for meetings when needed), being honest with each other, and ensuring that senior staff follow through with their intentions. Or you might want to create a culture with a strong sense of ownership, in which case you can ask your employees to showcase their completed projects, with each team member talking about their contributions. Every value can be promoted in various creative ways, for example:
- Policies—how people should act. Executives might have an open door policy that allows team members to chat with them.
- Procedures—how things should work. For example, every first Friday of the month can be dedicated to freely chosen innovative work that is separate from normal/planned work.
- Things—coffee machines, beer taps, ping pong tables, free fruit, etc.
- Events—company nights out, industry events, wellness programs, etc.
Write down any values that are already in place for the company (and that you want to keep), as well as some new values you want to incorporate. Then write down some ways that you can introduce them into the company, whether through policies, procedures, things, or events. Then start putting them into action.
Give people autonomy
If you love your employees and want to create a culture of trust, respect, and loyalty, give them as much autonomy as possible. People want to feel in charge of their own destiny, and by allowing them to choose projects that help to meet the company’s business goals, as well as complete them in their own way, you can foster a strong sense of freedom and independence. This can make them more engaged in their work, more productive1, and generally happier.
Make employees feel heard
If a company’s leaders use “do as I say” leadership styles, employees can feel restrained, unappreciated, and little more than just cogs in a machine. The antidote to this is adopting a leadership style that values the ideas of employers, encourages regular feedback, and then incorporates as much as possible. This kind of leadership can help to build a culture of confidence and innovation, where staff are inspired to use their brains fully and enthusiastically offer their ideas, which can lead to profitable endeavours. It creates cohesive teams where everyone feels important, which can boost morale to an incredible degree.
As an unquestionably social species, we thrive when we have rich relationships, and work is one of the best places to get them. If you’re greeted by the smiling faces of two or three friends every workday, and can natter about the latest series of Netflix’s newest hit while making a coffee, your day is probably off to a good start.
Workplaces that try to encourage friendships can help to create a culture that is bursting with positivity, and where staff feel a strong sense of loyalty to each other, and are always happy to help each other succeed.
You can encourage work friendships in the following ways:
- Social events—office parties, nights out, team building events, ping pong competitions, bake-offs, the list is endless!
- Special interest groups—encourage, create, and support special interest groups like chess clubs and reading clubs.
- Arrange random coffee meetups—employees who would like to get to know their colleagues better can go into a random lottery, and pair up with someone for a monthly coffee. This can be the spark needed to create a friendship.
- Encourage recognition—it’s lovely when someone recognises your hard work, and this feedback can be encouraged by senior staff in various ways: company-wide meetings, employee of the month nominations, and more.
Mission vision values statements
Mission vision values statements can help to clarify your company’s purpose, your long-term goals, and the kind of company you want to be. Your culture can grow directly out of your mission vision values statements—they can forge a strong sense of meaning for every team member, and also serve as a guide for how they should conduct themselves day-to-day, which can lead to the development of clear and coherent company culture.
Celebrate your successes
It’s easy to get bogged down in work, completing project after project and forgetting to celebrate your accomplishments. But doing so is incredibly important because it reminds us that our determination and persistence is worthwhile, and after a while, we may find ourselves part of a company culture brimming with grit and festivity.
You can celebrate your successes in a number of ways:
- Just saying “well done” to each other
- Sharing success stories in meetings
- Providing thank you gifts to team members who have worked hard
- Organising social events to celebrate milestones
- Organise an awards ceremony, with trophies for particular achievements
Add new interview questions
Culture is created and propagated by people, so hiring the right people is critical to shaping your company’s culture. Once you’re clear on the kind of values you want your culture to inhabit, you can include value-based questions in your hiring interviews that help to identify them in potential employees. For example, if you’re trying to determine someone’s integrity during an interview, you can ask them about any ethical dilemmas they’ve faced during their career. Or if you’re trying to gauge their social values, you can ask them which environmentally-friendly policies they might consider implementing to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
By including values-based questions in your hiring process, you can better understand whether the person will exhibit and promote the values that are important to your company’s culture. They’ll also have a much better chance of fitting in with the team!
Cool company culture ideas
Culture is a far-reaching, complex concept that is often unique from company to company— there’s so many different things that go into it. But here are some cool company culture ideas that can help you get started.
- Games room—a dedicated games room with a ping pong table, pool table, video consoles, and board games can be an awesome place to relax and rejuvenate for ten minutes. You can also organise some friendly tournaments to make things a bit more exciting.
- On-site gym—physically healthy people live longer, have more energy, and tend to be more productive at work. Providing an on-site gym not only saves employees money but can help to create an electrified culture that thrives on motivation.
- Team BBQ—if you have a balcony with a BBQ, have various departments host a monthly team BBQ where they cook the food of their choice.
- Wellness programs—wellness isn’t just another health fad. Yoga, meditation, and exercise programs can do wonders for people’s happiness and mental health and can help to create a caring culture.
- Duvet/doona days—sometimes we just don’t feel like getting out of bed, and imagine if you had permission to stay there a couple of times a year? This places an immense amount of trust in employees.
- “Dress up” Fridays—if your company has a casual dress code, some people might enjoy a day of dressing up and looking sharp.
- “Bring your pet to work” day—pets are members of the family, and giving people the opportunity to show them off to their colleagues can help to create a sense of community.
- Stan Phelps, 2019, If You Love Your Employees, Set Them Free: Autonomy Is Key To Employee Engagement, Forbes