What sort of company culture do I want to create?
This is a question which has crossed the mind of every startup entrepreneur worth their salt.
Get it right, and you can create a high-performing business.
Get it right, and you can build a tight-knit team who work easily and efficiently together.
Get it right, and you’ll never need an employee handbook ever again.
The ‘right’ company culture is an entirely individual concept that differs from company to company; what works for a media agency will not work in construction, and what works in IT will not necessarily apply to the recruitment industry.
However, there are certain universal principles which go a long way in creating a positive working environment and a proficient team.
More and more firms are now recognising that a 9-5, clock-in, clock-out, system is not always the most effective way of getting the most from your team.
Indeed, a survey from Digital Mums last week found that 73% of millennial employees would be more loyal to a business if flexible working was a possibility.
Flexible working allows for all of life’s unpredictable little mishaps. Leak in your bathroom? That’s okay - work from home while you wait for the plumber to arrive. Moving house? Take a long lunch to fit in a couple of estate agent viewings. If you have the capability to introduce flexible working, it’s worth it - it will have a huge impact on your team.
‘Benefits’ is a phrase which pops up frequently on job adverts, and these can cover anything from private health insurance and car allowances, to Achievers lunches and company holidays.
The best companies, though, vary their benefits according to the employee. Not every single member of staff would appreciate an all expenses paid lunch in a Michelin-starred restaurant; some might prefer additional holiday allowance to spend more time with their children. Rewarding your employees in the way which they want to be rewarded is the mark of a boss who is engaged with his team and understanding how they work best.
The rise of co-working spaces has meant that offices are now able to provide more for their staff than ever before, from breakfast every morning, to drinks on tap in the evening. The typical corporate office of 20 years ago is now virtually extinct, especially within Central London.
A polished, upscale office space can transform your team’s mindset, and make coming to work a far more enjoyable experience. Not only that, investing in your office space is the first step in creating an employer brand image, to appeal to your clients, as well as potential future employees.
How to spot great company culture
Great company culture can be elusive, but there are certain telltale signs. First of all, how does everyone in the office interact with each other? It can be tricky to strike a balance between professional and personal conversation, but as a general rule, at least 5 minutes of every hour is usually dedicated to non-work related chat. If the team laugh with each other, and know how to laugh at themselves, that’s a great sign.
Secondly, how engaged is the CEO with the rest of the team? If he or she gives the impression of being in an ivory tower, chances are that he or she will be less flexible or receptive to ideas than a CEO who always asks after the intern’s new puppy and will make a cup of tea for anyone who asks nicely!
Finally, how do the managers refer to the firm, or their employees? Referring to themselves a ‘team’, rather than a ‘company’, is the first step in creating a collaborative and inclusive working environment, in which each team member feels valued.