culture (n.) | \ˈkəl-chər \ | cul·ture | the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.
At first glance, it sounds simple, right? This buzzword is creating quite a stir among organizations as businesses are prioritizing their culture. But as it turns out, fewer than 10% of companies actually succeed in building a great culture.
It should be noted that it’s quite common for companies to fall into a toxic culture that is extremely unattractive to employees. Luckily, there are simple ways you can avoid this, and the first step is to identify ways in which you can improve your current culture.
Implementing and achieving a strong company culture for your business affects how your employees interact, future hires, and how your customers are treated; this sets the tone for making your business mediocre or exceptional. In fact, company culture is an important factor for 46% of job seekers.
Undeniably, nurturing a strong culture requires effort from everyone in the company. In this article, we’re going to share with you our pro tips on how to create and maintain a culture that both prospective and current employees will want to experience at their organization.
Live by what you believe in
Array’s leadership team embodies the business’s vision around our core values and lives by them.
It’s vital that you practice your culture daily and be the example the rest of your employees can follow. Your values aren’t only words on a wall, they’re also actions that inspire and motivate the people around you.
But remember, patience is key. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your ideal culture won’t be either. Remain passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish, and eventually you (and your organization) will get there!
Make sure your company decisions reflect the core values upon which you built the business. If you do not embody your company’s culture, your team will not emulate those values either. Always remember to lead by example.
It’s very common for employees to work for a company that aligns with their own personal values. Therefore, it is key to establish a strong and clear culture so that the right candidates apply to open positions.
It’s been shown that 15% of job seekers turned down a job offer because of the company’s culture. This part of a business is an important factor for people looking for their next job and it makes sense.
If you think about it, you spend a large portion of your week working. So naturally, you want the culture to align with your personal values since you’ll be dedicating most of your time to that company. Nobody wants to work somewhere where they aren’t passionate about the work they’re doing and the environment they’re in!
Follow through on your mission statement
Your culture should be the embodiment of your decisions and workplace environment.
According to Deloitte, 76% of employees believe that well-defined business goals help cultivate a positive work culture. A mission statement is a great way to show a high-level overview of what your company’s purpose is and the value you consistently bring to your customers. This statement should exemplify your company’s objectives so that they not only inspire your customers to believe in you and your product, but it should also motivate your employees as well.
Another great way to display your core values is to have a strong About page on your website. This page should fully encapsulate what your company stands for and what your team environment looks like. You don’t want to be misleading when it comes to this information since this represents your brand. Plus, people are visiting this page to see what you’re all about, so don’t leave out any key points!
Make sure it’s authentic and true to what your company represents. This ensures that you’re setting the appropriate expectations about your cultural values.
It shouldn’t be too lengthy or messy. Clean and simple is the way to go.
As a whole, your company should have a well-established purpose. Check out this video we found to see why this is a key component for nurturing a strong culture:
Create a workplace that enhances employee experiences by finding people that bring something new to the table
The biggest mistake leaders make is hiring team members who are replicas of themselves, leaving a wide gap in productivity and culture.
At Array, we like to find employees that complement our already existing strengths and weaknesses, as well as recruit people who bring something new to our business. Seth has a passion for web. Kim is a Photoshop ninja. And Nicole’s illustrations are top notch. Together, we’re a dynamic team.
When our company hires, we always try our best to be inclusive. We strive to build a team which fosters different perspectives and experiences, gender, age groups, and ethnicities, all contributing to our shared vision.
When a team brings different skills and perspectives to the table, your company will be more open to a lot more opportunities.
Establishing a strong leadership team can greatly improve the workplace environment as well. We always make sure our leaders are good listeners, receptive to feedback, and embrace being on a team.
You never want to hire/promote leaders who become dictators. Figuring out if someone is a good culture fit for your company is vital during your interview process because you don’t want to run into leadership conflicts later on down the road. This video we found from The Harvard Business Review shares exactly what it takes to be a strong leader:
All in all, leadership should embody the company’s core values and be a leading example for the whole team. Here at Array, we’re so proud of the team we’ve built and the culture that we nurture everyday.
Encourage a work/life balance
To reduce stress on your team, it’s best to encourage your employees to take the time they need to be physically and mentally healthy. Overworking can cause conflict between team members and can induce strain on the entire operation. When employees are stressed and overwhelmed with their job, they will naturally leave and find a different company that respects their time. Offering flexibility when it comes to time off and sick days is a great way to be respectful of your employees’ time.
Keeping a high-level of communication is also essential! At Array, we enjoy keeping in touch with each other through Slack, and maintaining organized shared calendars so that we all know each other’s game plans. Keeping everyone informed and in the loop of everything going on in the company is a way to make the employees feel involved and cared about.
It’s also great to check in and genuinely connect with your team to see how they’re doing. Ask them about their workload and make sure that no one is getting overwhelmed with their tasks. After all, you’re a team and you’re there to support each other. Sometimes people may quietly struggle because they’re nervous about reaching out, so taking initiative as a leader will show them that you care about them when they’re struggling and you’re willing to help them out. Increasing your communication will positively affect the workplace culture as a whole.
This video from Tandym Group shares some ways you can encourage a work/life balance with your employees and shares other important factors when it comes to establishing a positive workplace culture:
Build good organizational culture and foster an environment of team unity
At Array, we make sure to treat our employees as more than just employees.
We care about each individual and strive for communication between everyone on our team. Showing someone you care about them by simply asking a question about what’s going on in their life creates trust and unity so your employees are working together instead of for themselves. Try implementing team-building exercises and outings (like local volunteering or a baseball game) so that your team members are spending time together in different settings outside of the office.
We’re all humans, so let’s be empathetic and personal with one another! This will naturally increase employee engagement and create an overall positive company culture.
A great example of this is when our team went to the Elevate Akron event to get together and do something fun. This is a great way to get more personable with your team and get to know each other on another level!
(Sr. Art Director Kim Rospotynski and Graphic Design and Marketing Specialist Nicole Peters attend Akron’s annual Yoga festival, Elevate Akron on Sep 8, 2022)
With more companies transitioning to remote workplaces (like us!) ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it’s vital to identify creative methods to nurture team unity.
One way to create connections is to host virtual happy hours or team retreats. These interactive activities can serve as a great way to not only have fun, but to also get to know your team on a deeper level. In particular, these opportunities will enable you to have personal conversations and create relationships that will make for a strong team-bonding experience. When you get to know the faces you see on your screen every day, you’ll notice a huge improvement in employee morale.
(Array’s day at the races– complete with go-karting, good food, and healthy competition!)
It’s essential for a strong company culture to come up with goals for your whole team to work together to accomplish. Have a meeting with your employees and go over the top goals the company aims to accomplish over a certain span of time. It could be weekly, monthly, or quarterly.
One initiative that our whole company has adopted is the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) from the book Measure What Matters by John Doerr. The author discovered this tactic while working at Intel, one of the largest tech companies. No matter what, this system never failed the companies that Doerr shared this technique with. It’s one way our team keeps accountability with each other’s goals.
If your team has a clear understanding of what goals the business wants to accomplish, your company will become much more productive. When everyone is on the same page it also prevents conflicts from arising and unnecessary stress. Establishing these clear goals will greatly improve the overall employee experience and make them want to continue working with you.
A strong organizational culture yields happy employees. It also naturally increases engagement and a collaborative atmosphere in order to get things done efficiently. We fully embrace this ideology at Array.
Be open to learning
Leaders should teach their team best practices for their job, but they should also be open to learning from those around them. We can always learn from each other no matter what level of authority you currently rank. There’s a reason Ian calls Array a ‘teaching hospital’!
In the case that someone has a new idea or answer for a problem that needs solving, we encourage our team to participate and raise their hand when they have a different perspective. When your team is more collaborative, more innovative ideas get brought to the table that may have been overlooked beforehand.
Even if someone makes a mistake (trust me, it will inevitably happen), encourage them to learn from it, and don’t make them feel deterred. Constructive criticism should be a common practice between you and your team. This is so that everyone is always given opportunities to grow and learn.
If no one is given feedback, growth can falter and employees potentially remain stagnant in their jobs. There should always be something new to learn.
Offer Growth Opportunities
Whenever a company offers opportunities to grow and get promoted, employees are much more attracted to working there. Promoting from within shows that you care about your current employees and their career trajectory.
If you’re constantly hiring new people for higher roles in the hierarchy, that typically doesn’t bode well with the rest of your team.
(Earlier this year, Shawn Magee was promoted to Creative Director at Array!)
At least share the opportunity internally before you go searching for a new candidate. Some employees may surprise you and step up to the plate. This encourages your team to work harder because you’re showing them that they’ll be rewarded if they do so.
If you’re not providing growth opportunities, your team may feel discouraged and you’ll end up with disengaged employees.
Celebrate your employees
When it’s someone’s birthday or work anniversary, acknowledge that and celebrate them! A great way to do this besides verbally communicating it to them is to post it on the company’s social media.
Here at Array, we stay on top of celebrating our team and announce milestones on our Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. We care about our employees so we make sure to share their successes and make sure they feel appreciated!
(On LinkedIn, we recently celebrated the birthday of our graphic designer Seth Ranzinger)
Celebrating big days and accomplishments makes your team feel recognized and valued. O.C. Tanner discovered that 83% of employees increase in engagement when companies recognize small wins and efforts at work. If you ignore significant milestones big or small, your employees can be left feeling forgotten or not noticed. Then, as a result, their performance may decrease since they no longer feel valued. The good news is, it’s easy to prevent this from happening.
To stress the importance of giving recognition to your team, 79% of employees will quit after receiving inadequate appreciation from their managers. Make sure you’re not only giving constructive feedback but also positive feedback. You love hearing about the things you’re doing well on, right? So don’t refrain from giving high-fives to your team every now and then.
Remember to have fun
Remember: Free lunches, foosball games, and team outings (all things Array loves!) aren’t culture, your core values and vision are. But with that being said, don’t forget to have fun. Your team works hard, and doing things that allow them to relax and take a mental break will go a long way. Figure out what your team enjoys and implement some of those activities into each work week. Follow this rule of thumb: happy employees create a happy workplace and in turn build a positive company culture.
This video from TED perfectly explains that strong company culture isn’t just about the perks of having fun ping pong tables or work activities, but it’s about feeling genuinely valued:
Pro Tip: Think about your current company culture and various ways you can improve upon it. Get your entire team involved in coming up with fun ideas to improve the workplace environment. Gathering employee feedback can be extremely beneficial for this part of your business. You’ll notice a huge difference when you get all hands on deck.
At Array, we prioritize our culture. Our team is built from individuals, each with their own strengths and personalities, all working together seamlessly. We work long days but know how to have fun too. With endless ways to build your perfect atmosphere, you have the ability to create a culture unique to your business. For more ideas, check out the Top 10 examples of companies with fantastic cultures that Entrepreneur.com shared. Get inspired and use a tip or two. Your business can’t (and shouldn’t) replicate any other, so find what works for you and stick to it. You’ll thank yourself in the long term.