With everyone heading back to the office, workplace culture is a hot topic these days. Google has pages of articles on it. But if you’re looking for ways to build or improve your own, you need more than just buzzwords like collaboration, productivity, and inclusion. The real challenge for business leaders is the how.
As a founder or CEO, it’s your job to define how to manifest your company’s values and maintain a healthy and prosperous organization. But some business leaders, especially in startups, confuse building a great culture with offering cool perks. Or they think someone else is better suited for the responsibility altogether.
Culture isn’t just free coffee and cool tech. It’s creating an environment where employees feel valued and heard. But there are some myths about workplace culture out there leading business leaders astray. So in Part One of our Culture Series, we’re calling them out so your company has a chance to overcome them.
Culture is Just a State of Mind
Many companies love to claim they have a “prosperous and abundant” company culture without ever really defining what that means. Remember those buzzwords from before? While you may be able to fool your customers with a catchy mission statement, that’s not the case with your employees — they expect a follow through. Products and services can be duplicated, but people can’t. You can post all sorts of clever productivity sayings on the walls, but it’s the behaviors and rituals of your team and your leadership that truly defines your culture. And it’s up to you to foster and nurture it.
Strong Culture Means No Mistakes
It’s unrealistic to think that a great workplace culture means no mistakes, no negative feelings, and no conflicts. Too often, our initial reaction to clashes in ideas or conflicting personalities is that it’s harmful to workplace culture, but experiences show it’s really the opposite. A great culture is driven by a variety of conversations and outlooks merging together to create innovative outcomes. Learning from mistakes is the best way to grow. Being comfortable with failure and embracing challenges and issues is a much more valuable than hoping it simply doesn’t exist in your company.
Great Perks are Good Enough
This is a big one. Don’t get us wrong, pizza parties, happy hours, and ping pong tables are a great way to boost team morale, but they aren’t culture. An amazing salary isn’t either. They may offer fleeting happiness (especially if you’re the office ping pong champ) but it’s not enough to provide long-term fulfillment. Perks are easy, but the real work comes in actively investing in a fundamental culture of respect. Your convictions and your purpose should match your space and all the fun stuff you have in it.
Compensation is the Only Motivator
Your employees aren’t only sticking around for the constant raises and benefits. Of course, a competitive compensation will attract them to your company, but after they hit a certain number, that’s not what they’re focused on. Employees work to feel needed and appreciated, so recognizing their contributions to the company can be far more motivating than those extra holiday bonuses.
Culture Can Change Overnight
A recent study showed that 67% of companies had either a flat or negative trendline in terms of culture and values. And that’s because they don’t make culture an on-going priority. It’s not simply about one new hire or a quick — it’s an accumulation of behaviors, processes, and actions that take time to become habits. If your employees don’t have reason to believe what you preach, they won’t.
If you want to improve your culture, you need to remember that everything you do has an impact on your culture, including your business strategies and objectives. Again, products and services are a dime a dozen, but what truly makes your business unique is what you need to be selling — to both your customers and your employees.
Culture Doesn’t Start at The Top
Building a successful culture starts with you. As a business leader, your behavior is the single biggest defining factor of your culture. If you often snap at people, anger and fear will be part of your culture. If you pretend everything is perfect, you’ll create an artificial culture that’s inauthentic and unfulfilling. Encourage change, offer feedback, and embrace setbacks. Your employees will follow suit. If you ignore issues or act on emotional impulse, your culture won’t flourish.
Culture is so much more than just telling everyone your mission statement. And it won’t wait for you to create it. If you don’t define and instill the core values and goals of your culture at every level, it will define itself — and you may not like the outcome.
Let’s start with your workplace. How will it reflect the culture you want to embrace? Stay tuned for Part Two of our Culture series on designing for culture. But if you can’t wait to start investing in spaces that will help your company’s culture, contact Ethosource today.