The word ‘culture’ as defined by the Oxford dictionary refers to the “ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.” This definition, if applied to work situations, would imply the strategic alignment of ideas, customs and behaviour of people with an environment where everyone works towards achieving a common goal – business success. This is known ‘Organisational Culture’ and it typically reflects the company’s vision, mission, values, structure and policies.
Why a Healthy Organisational Culture is Important
The importance of organisational culture lies in its strength to bring together the company’s objectives and unite them with the thoughts and actions of its employees in order to bring stability, increase employee’s productivity and generate profits for the company which can be shared with the company’s internal and external stakeholders. It is not just about the perks, office parties, games and outings, but creating synergy among employees that empowers them and makes them want to come back to office day after day.
Building a healthy organisational culture is crucial because it is being increasingly acknowledged by modern entrepreneurs that employee satisfaction and company’s progress are directly related and will always go hand in hand. Office culture can largely influence people that the company wants to attract and retain. For newly startup companies, wherein the challenges of attracting and retaining good employees are aplenty, it is important to set in place a culture that fosters talent and hones skills, rewards and recognizes hard work, and provides ample opportunities for growth and development of careers (and not just jobs).
Creating a Nurturing Office Culture
Most startups commit the deadly sin of looking at culture building in terms of ROI, making it all about money. What they don’t consider is the extra costs that they could incur with a lack of a good culture. Some of the best companies in the world have been able to dominate their respective industries as well as sail through tough times due to their robust organisational framework and culture. Here are some tips on how a startup can incorporate a great culture in its office.
Laying a Strong Foundation
The best way to influence your people is by setting an example and encouraging others to emulate that behaviour. It all starts with leadership that plans what kind of culture they want to build and instill through their own actions. A company is an extension of the employer’s values and beliefs and these factors should shine through the company’s culture. Setting realistic and reasonable precedents determine company standards and work as an impetus towards providing the company and its employees with a sense of direction.
Hiring the Right People
The office culture comes to life only if the people you recruit share your values. It essentially comes from people who demonstrate the same vision and values as you do for your company. This requires getting to know your candidates beyond their education and skill sets. You will have to engage them in real conversations which would include getting their views on politics, their interests, how they spend their weekends, etc.
It is worth investing your precious time in choosing the right candidate. If you’re hiring mindlessly, then you need to stop and think about your hiring methods. This holds especially true when hiring the top managers of your company.
Let Them Evolve
A company owes it to its employees to provide them opportunities to learn and grow. No talented employee will be happy in a company where he/she feels stagnated and suppressed. Sometimes it makes sense to treat the employee like a customer and look after his/her needs with regards to training and career progression. Making the employee feel valued and respected is of utmost importance and that can be achieved only by giving them enough chances to learn (even by making mistakes, but not repeating them), train and perform to the best of their abilities.
Be Transparent in Your Communication
The best way to let employees know about your company and its culture is by communicating with them about it. You could put it in your employee handbook and intranet for ease of accessibility to employees. Having your policies and procedures written in black and white will help you set a strong culture and create a feeling of trust and equality among your workforce, besides making them understand the company better. They will know what to expect and what to avoid. This makes it easier for you, as an employee, to be transparent with your employees, thereby preventing any unpleasant surprises and shocks.
Be a Facilitator, Not a Controller
Accept the fact that your company’s culture cannot be completely controlled by you as there are lots of people and external factors involved. As a leader, it would work in your favour if you act as a mentor, rather than a tyrannical dictator and micromanager. Go with your team’s flow and energy and avoid enforcing stringent rules upon them. Encourage them to balance their personal and professional lives.
When you have happy employees, achieving many milestones is inevitable. Celebrate these milestones with all your employees. This will boost their morale and they will bond better with the company. Every employee wants to be a part of the growth story of a young successful company. Show them that their efforts are paying off and that their contribution has turned dreams into reality.
Culture cannot be forced upon people and there’s no set formula to achieve it; it has to be developed carefully. People who join startups want their ideas to be heard and want to contribute to the journey of organisational growth and success. A good company culture motivates employees to believe that they can accomplish much more than what they dreamed of.