The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: How Does Your Company Culture Stack Up?

Successful companies know that there’s more to the office than just the bottom line. While profit and strong client relationships matter (a lot), a brand that wants to stick around for the long-term should also focus on company culture. Whether it’s providing  a space for naps or incorporating a flexible work from home policy, these benefits up a company’s level of appeal for current and potential employees. For entrepreneurs and management personnel who are focused on ROI, it may be hard to see the value in committing time and energy to worrying about company culture. But having an environment where everyone knows the goals of that organization and feels appreciated helps to attract more desirable candidates, and can often encourage these people to stay for the long haul.

So what exactly is company culture?

I know, it sounds like one of those touchy feely concepts that doesn’t work in a real life setting. Actually, company culture is a major point of focus for a number of successful organizations. Take Zappos for example. Platforms are constantly writing about the brand’s positive work environment, which is a major point of focus for the brand. In fact, the company takes its culture so seriously that CEO Tony Hsieh wrote an entire post dedicated to the concept on the company blog. In addition to Zappos, Forbes has also created a post that focuses on other companies that are known for providing a good work-life balance. Brands that topped the list include Colgate-Palmolive, Wegmans, and Coldwell Banker.

How to go about creating your own positive company culture

So you want to make sure that your business is a good place to work. Smart move. Here are some things you can focus on:

  • Document your values: Particularly for larger companies, it’s important that employees on all levels know exactly what their short and long-term goals are. When all employees are on the same page, it makes it much easier to carry out the company’s mission properly. Employees should also know how to deal with clients, the media, and other groups, as each person in that group ultimately represents the company as a whole.
  • Hire well: Ultimately, your employees can make or break your company. Pick people who are well educated and enthusiastic and you’re likely to thrive, whereas those who are uninspired and unfocused can cause a serious issue for the organization. Stella & Dot have instituted 10 hiring filters for each new employee, including sense of urgency, curiosity, and willingness to fail. This ensures that any new hires blend in well with the rest of the organization.
  • Change as you grow: Just like business practices, company culture may need to evolve as the organization grows. Strategies that worked when the business had three employees will be far different from what is required when there are 100 members on the team.
  • Be transparent: Regardless of their position within the company, employees want to know where the business is headed and how they fit into that future. While upper management doesn’t need to go over every detail about company financials, it’s important that all employees are made aware of long-term goals and upcoming plans. This builds trust and helps to keep employees invested in the business. Treating everyone with respect and valuing the opinions of all staff members makes for a peaceful, productive place.
  • Encourage employees’ ideas: The idea that only one person can come up with ideas for that company is a dated one, and it does the business a disservice. Companies should thrive on collaboration, and should encourage staff members to take an active role in the business’s products and services. Employees should feel free to express their ideas and suggestions, and should have a forum for doing so.

While company culture varies from place to place and between industries, ultimately a number of the elements of positive company culture are universal. This includes being transparent and open with employees, adapting as the business grows, and allowing employees to use their ideas to make a difference at work.

Do you work in a place with a great company culture? What makes it so appealing? Let us know in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by abbybatchelder