Nurturing a Positive Company Culture
There’s this saying that goes, “Don’t mix business with pleasure.” Alright, I get it, personal life and professional life should be separate, but why can’t business bring pleasure? Here lies the magic of a happy you and happy employees who aren’t staring at the clock every 30 seconds itching to start running to their cars: company culture. Here are some tips to create that atmosphere and culture that fosters productivity, innovation, and what do you know, pleasure.
3 Tips to Nurturing Company Culture
1. Don’t Treat Your Employees Like Employees
Think of your employees as part of your family unit. Well wait, isn’t that going against the whole concept of blurring the lines between business and pleasure? Absolutely not. It’s entirely possible to have your home family unit, and your work family unit. In a family, everyone has their individual responsibilities to keep the unit functioning. They all come together to form something bigger than themselves. Now, I’m not oblivious to the fact that work is not all fun and games. But neither is being part of a family. There will be tasks that are not exciting at all (unloading the dishwasher, or submitting that budget report), but everyone contributes because the family unit depends on them.
Here are some ways you can treat your employees like family. Make them feel validated, important and powerful as an individual. When people feel this, they aspire to do better. Have them understand that you recognize the work they’re doing and that you believe in them to contribute quality work to help push the company (family) forward. You wouldn’t have hired them if you didn’t think they were the most ideal person for the job.
Secondly, get to know them, and I mean really know them, not just that Joe Shmoe has a tendency to spill his coffee on his button-down every morning. What are their hobbies? Do they have kids? Take an interest in them as people. Making things more personal than coffee will grow appreciation and respect on both ends as the employer and the employee.
Lastly, don’t ask your employees to do something that you wouldn’t do. Make it obvious that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves with them, if needed. As an employer, it is your job to empower your employees. Let them know that you’re all in it together.
2. Make Work Feel Like Home
Stewardship is important, but so is hospitality. Everyone is familiar with the concepts of nature and nurture. Unfortunately, nature is not something you can control (as taught by a dozen Hollywood disaster movies), but you can control how nurturing your work space is. Nurture people’s innovative thinking, nurture their strengths, and nurture their productivity.
How can you do this? Easy. Allow people to be people. People walk, talk, eat, socialize, etc. Create an atmosphere that facilitates the little things people do. For example, have a community space where people can hang out and converse. Maybe they’ll find a creative solution to a problem they wouldn’t have come up with without that social stimulation or Oreo. Having variations in environment is one of the best ways to get rid of mental blocks and stimulate innovation. Another great tip is to be flexible. Understand that people work in different ways to meet their deadlines. Some may stay fixated at their desk, others might work best sitting in the common area bouncing ideas off of their peers. Be flexible in allowing people to work the way they need to. Ideally you want to create an environment that you could spend time in outside of the 9-5 hours. Talk to your team (family), and see what suggestions they have to make their work space feel a little more like home.
3. Giving Is an Investment: Invest!
Extra costs are always looked at as a negative thing, especially in start-ups. The great thing about giving is that it doesn’t have to be costly, especially when it comes to nurturing a company culture. Giving can be as simple as allowing your employees to have casual dress Fridays, or giving out fun superlatives to get a laugh out of your work family. Laughing and smiling produces endorphins. Endorphins reduce stress and increase pleasure. This equals more productivity and motivation. Such a simple equation! If you have a little cash to put towards your company culture, here are some ideas. Have a pizza party! Everyone likes pizza. And if you have an employee that doesn’t, do you really want them working for you? Sign your work family up for a walk-a-thon for a local cause and buy team T-shirts. You know your team the best. Invest in them in the ways that will resonate with them the most. All of these little acts of giving add up and will make a huge difference in not only the culture, but employee satisfaction and quality of work.
As it turns out, mixing business and pleasure can have a lot of benefits. Work should not be miserable every hour of the day. I hope these ideas get the wheels turning in your head about how you can facilitate the company culture that you and your team (work family) can thrive in. Now get to work!