Without culture, a company has no way of identifying, exemplifying, and practicing the values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that define goals and characterize members. It is culture, too, that drives goals, fosters creativity, and ultimately distinguishes your company as a unique entity separate from competitors. And while culture is one of the most important, exciting aspects of growing or restructuring a business, it is a key element that can often be misconstrued or misdirected in a way that causes more harm than good.
As the owner or CEO of a company, understanding that you’re responsible for establishing company culture is critical if you wish to succeed. This is a task not to be pushed on someone else, but established by you and your leaders and encouraged from the top-down. If you’re able to create an environment that supports and shares the values, goals, and work ethic of your employees, you’ll undoubtedly foster a high-performance culture.
While establishing your company culture, be sure to keep these five common company culture myths in mind.
Myth #1: Establishing Culture Costs Money – True
Establishing a good company culture is an investment. Consider it this way: by putting money, time, and consideration into your team, they will feel more valued and thus invest more of their time and effort back into the company. It’s important to remember, too, that just because establishing culture costs money doesn’t mean you need to go out and drop millions on elaborate measures. Consider these three, budget-friendly ways to boost company culture:
Office challenges: Friendly office competitions are a great way to implement fun into the workspace. Whether you host an annual chili cook-off, kickball tournament, or flag-football playoff game, these and other practically-free ideas will boost morale, get everyone involved, and provide employees with a much-needed break from the average workday.
Facilitate Fitness: Give your employees the chance to get fit by incorporating fitness into your workplace. If it’s within your means, consider establishing an in-office gym or provide your employees with memberships to a nearby gym. A budget-friendly idea is to host a “Biggest Loser” style competition where employees add five push-ups to their regimen every week or compete to lose weight. You can also start having walking meetings, when possible, to get people moving.
Celebrate personal and professional milestones: Giving your employee the day off for their birthday or hosting an after-work party to celebrate an employee’s “workaversary” is a great way to make your team feel valued and appreciated.
Myth #2: Only Pay and Perks Build Culture – False
If you think you can establish and control company culture through pay and perks, not only are you incredibly mistaken but you’re doing your entire business an injustice. Contrary to common, outdated beliefs, you can’t assume that money is the most powerful way to boost productivity or control the actions and outcomes of your staff.
Instead, consider sitting down with a few of your staff members and asking them what you could do to boost company culture and promote productivity. You might be surprised to learn that, instead of a raise or an added vacation day, your team simply wants to have “casual Fridays” or a weekly after-work cocktail hour. The most important takeaway here is that you ask rather than assume.
Myth #3: You Don’t Need a Lot of Employees for Culture – True
Another common misconception is that the more employees a company has, the better the culture will be. While this isn’t entirely untrue, it’s important to remember that even a small team of employees can develop a truly outstanding company culture, as well as one that can be scaled as the company grows.
For small start-up companies, this might mean hiring your first employees with a mapped-out culture in mind and establishing how you want that culture to grow in the future.
For large corporations, this might mean cutting back on staff to boost efficiency and get to a size where culture promotes happiness, morale, and an exemplary work environment.
Myth #4: Culture Is All About Play – False
As with most things in life, using play-time to build company culture should only be done in moderation. If you rely solely on ping-pong, foosball, cornhole, or office-golf to build a culture that encourages a hard work ethic, employee appreciation, and teamwork – you’ll find yourself sorely disappointed.
While these activities can be occasionally implemented as a way to break up the average workday, you should supplement play-time with other activities like outside meetings, after-work happy hour, milestone celebrations, etc. Giving your employees a chance to mingle outside of the typical work environment fosters creativity and a deeper sense of team unity.
Myth #5: Culture Needs to Be Established Immediately – True
As a CEO or manager of a company, you must remember that culture starts with YOU. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and establish the culture for you. If you want to have an office culture that fosters creativity, expands in a wonderful way, and grows with the company, then you’ll need to set the groundwork for that to happen. This means treating employees as equals, listening to them and respecting what they have to say, encouraging them to share their views, and openly acknowledging their achievements.
Knowing in advance that establishing the company culture is your role will help you better define your intentions and goals.
Harvey is a freelance writer located in Salt Lake City, Utah. He enjoys writing about business and the workplace. He has most recently worked with ASEA. When Harvey is not writing, he loves to relax and watch the latest TV show with a big bowl of popcorn.
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