In the simplest of terms, the better your company culture is, the better your people will perform. A huge 91% of executives believe that improving their company’s culture would increase the company’s value. With the majority of today’s workforce consisting of millennials, it’s important that you understand what they care about most – company culture. Company culture is defined by the way you communicate, how your meetings are held, how employees are dealt with, the rewards you offer, your effort to create a healthy work/life balance and how you project your business to the general public.

Negative working environments are shown to lead to poor results, especially in new start-up businesses that we’re seeing more and more of. If you’re looking to create a unique company culture that your employees are going to want to adopt, it’s important you understand how to do it. A well-known example of great company culture is the one that Netflix have created, you can see more about it here.

Defining your values is essential to formulate a strategy that’s scalable

In order to keep a culture going it must first be built. It can be an area that new businesses don’t spend time planning which results in it becoming unscalable as a business inevitably expands. This can lead to avoidable negative situations, such as hiring the wrong people and losing the right ones. So, to start, you must use your company’s values and work out where you currently are and where you want to be. Think about what underpins your business and your team and use those factors in creating a strong company culture.

As a new business, company values are something that should be discussed early on. It’s crucial that all members of the team understand what’s important when the time comes to make significant decisions. Having these values determined will help with everything from project prioritisation right through to the partnerships you make along your journey. If your company culture has been embedded into existing employees early on, then as you develop and grow this culture will be sustained by the existing and adopted by the new employees.

Once you have defined this core set of values it’s essential that you ensure that the whole team is on the same page. A great way to do this is to include an assessment of the behaviours that underpin your company culture as part of all team member appraisals (i.e. not just what they do, but also how they do it). A defined set of values gives each employee something to refer to when they’re making decisions that will impact the business. It lets them know what your company is focused on, what’s important to the founders of the company and how the business should be perceived by other businesses, potential customers and the public. Whether it’s the marketing team in planning social media content or whether it’s the customer service department handling complaints, if company values are a central focus then your company culture will formulate and flow through the entire workforce.

Methods to build and scale a business’ culture

There are several ways in which you can build a positive company culture and ensure that it is maintained company-wide. From recruiting like-minded people to focusing on your communication techniques you must understand how to achieve these goals.

  • Your Recruitment Process
    When hiring based upon talent, experience and qualifications it’s also vital that you hire people that will fit into and adopt your company culture. Having shared values within a business creates success in every aspect. You could hire someone with the best CV on paper but if they aren’t able to share your company values it can cause major disruption and a huge number of problems. In terms of scalability, in a small company one person’s influence on company culture can be huge. However, in a larger organisation, one person’s influence on hundreds is significantly smaller. Therefore, as a new or small business it’s vital that you recruit the correct people to your team.

There are some companies which use psychometric testing techniques as part of their recruitment process to ensure that they’re hiring people who are a good fit for their team. Psychometric tests can measure how people vary in their motivation, priorities and preferences. All of which are indicative of how somebody works and how well they’d carry your company culture.

  • Focus on the Team rather than Individuals
    As your company culture is something that your whole team should share, it’s the role of managers, directors and leaders to use it to create a team mentality. This is particularly true when hard situations occur. Everybody should do what’s best for the team and the company, not what’s best for themselves as individuals.

As part of your recruitment process a factor you should consider is whether you can trust the person you’re thinking of hiring. If you can, it helps with the team mentality of your business. To trust somebody means you can allow them the opportunity to think more like leaders and business owners. This means they’re able to fully immerse themselves into company culture. In terms of scalability, as your workforce grows it’s important that each member can be trusted. It’s harder to keep tabs on individuals in a large business so it’s vital that steps have been taken to create trust.

Disagreements will always happen within businesses of any size. What’s important is to ensure that these disagreements happen productively, constructively and with the best interests of the business as the focus. Having a common culture means that unified positive attitudes are consistent amongst the team.

  • Have open and honest discussions and think carefully about your communication methods
    As a small company it’s usually the case that every member of the team has several roles, it’s how you make a small company grow. As this growth happens, communication can become more complex and the roles to employee ratio decreases. It’s important through this growth that your communication with each member of your team remains open and transparent.

Through open and transparent conversations, you will create a sense of togetherness within your company. Discuss finances, growth, and future plans within meetings. Celebrate victories with your team but also share the downfalls. This means that each department can identify what they can do, sharing in your victories or working to recover from mistakes. As your company grows this will mean each department will be focused on their own role in business growth with your company culture underpinning their efforts.

Letting your team know that you genuinely appreciate the work they do within your business will go a long way in terms of your company culture. When we think of this we think of recognition, praise, benefits and even financial rewards. However, HR experts state that even practices as simple as beginning emails with a ‘hey, hi, or hello’ and not just jumping straight to the point can go a long way in keeping your team happy. Creating a ‘human’ feel to everything that happens in your business reminds your staff that they each matter and each have their own role. This is especially important as your company grows.

  • Share your values consistently

Within any company change is inevitable, as companies grow and thrive this will always be true. For a successful business it’s important that your culture can grow with you. For this to happen you must make a consistent culture a high priority. The right talent and team are the biggest factor in shaping a company culture that works. As we’ve already discussed, recruitment needs to be in line with your values. From the initial interview right through to staff appraisals company culture needs to be a golden thread.

Refer back to your culture in every decision that you make; for every new employee that walks through your doors and in every staff meeting held. As your company grows it’s important that managers and team leaders are made aware of the importance of consistent values so that there’s never a time that they aren’t being reflected on.

If your company culture is good, employees trust their leaders and their standard of work will be higher. If everybody’s efforts are underpinned by the same culture and values, it’s more likely that employees will bounce off each other and reach better results. If everybody has the same aims to work towards you’re more likely to get there. Companies that are considered ‘good’ to work for, have lower turnover rates compared to those companies who aren’t by a huge 65%. Remember, retaining your carefully selected employees is vital. As your business grows you need to be sure that each employee is happy in order for them to produce high quality work. Company culture is still often dismissed however as ‘pink and fluffy’; if you want to succeed as a business you can’t afford to ignore the importance of it.