Company culture has been quite a buzzword recently. Many people think of company culture as beer in the fridge and drinks after work.
Well, guess what? Company culture is not only the Friday after-work party, making cocktails with your colleagues and acting all happy and loving. Take a look under the surface. Is everything really so perfect?
Company culture is so much more than that. It’s how your employees experience their time at work and how it makes them feel. Company culture consists of values that shape the behavior of the employees. Company culture is how you handle difficult situations. Company culture is one of the main reasons why some companies succeed, and some don’t.
There are tons of companies that have mastered company culture, and we could learn from them. One thing Hootsuite does to improve overall workplace satisfaction is #randomcoffee — an initiative to match employees from different departments to meet over a cup of coffee. According to CEO Ryan Holmes, employees were very enthusiastic about meeting their colleagues. They became aware of what happens in other departments and brought new perspectives to problems. This went so well, so they created the randomcoffee.me website, where people from any company can get matched with a random colleague for a coffee. How cool is this?
Another great example is Deputy. They create culture clubs, where people from various departments are mixed and sent off to lunch. Members of the clubs are being changed every six months. This way, employees can meet colleagues from other departments, get to know their problems, and their way of working. And, of course, make new friends!
They also encourage employees to spend a day on another team member’s place, in order to develop empathy and enable them to see other perspectives.
Deputy’s company culture is being celebrated by monthly star awards, which are given to employees who respect the company’s values. This way, they believe they are making Deputy a place where people want to work in.
So, what can we learn from these companies?
Listening. Employees need to know that companies listen to what they say. They must feel free to speak up, even when they are wrong. A company should be a place where everyone feels like their real selves. Everyone is different, so, normally, they will approach work differently. No working approach is good or bad, companies and employees just need to find the one that is in the middle between your culture and their style.
Innovation. Companies that innovate constantly are good working environments. Employees can significantly contribute to the innovation process, and here, we go back to listening again. The company needs to be a place where employees are empowered to give suggestions and develop their own ideas that might be even better than the existing ones.
Personal time. Having a work-life balance means leaving work at work and using personal time for other things. This also doesn’t mean that employees should stay at work for 12 hours and see their families only on weekends. They need to have their personal lives. Personal time is personal time and it is not to be sacrificed.
Empathy is essential. Life sometimes gets in the way of work — and that’s okay. Solving their private problems will make employees happy and more focused at work. Most work things can wait until the next day, and we all know this.
Hiring. When hiring, the focus should be more on company culture than on skills. The new person needs to share certain values with the employees.
Yes, sometimes there will be assholes — you can’t predict how someone will behave when two months into their contract. But, a manager should be able to quickly detect this and make the most out of the situation. It’s a common mistake, but other good employees will appreciate the quick action and the elimination of the problem.
San Francisco-based startup Weebly solves this by inviting job candidates on a paid trial week. According to CEO David Rusenko, assholes can hide it in an interview, but they can’t hide it for a whole week. When working closely with other people for a week, your real self will come to the surface.
Rewards. People who respect the company’s values should be rewarded. And, it’s not just the people who work hard. Its people who are both performing well AND adopt the company’s values.
A good employee doesn’t mean only staying longer at work and working hard. What if it turns out this good employee makes life harder for other employees? This means they are not such a good employee after all. A good employee also means showing up on time, helping others when needed, being nice and open for communication, not being selfish and caring only about your own work, being respectful for other people’s time, being respectful to the company and finally, respecting the values of the company.
Company culture is not something you just define at the beginning. It should change with time, and that’s great! It means the company is growing and adapting to its employees.
Finally, tech company cultures don’t have to be liked by everyone. Not everyone will fit in, right?
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