16 Steps to Building a Great Company Culture

Joanna Zambas
Joanna Zambas

Content Manager and Career Expert

happy employees

Company culture is essentially the core of any business; it’s the everyday reality of organisational life. The culture is what we do, what we say, the way we behave, the way we treat each other, our products, customers, communities and ourselves. To be successful, we need a positive environment with shared values, goals and beliefs. But how do you turn a sinking ship into a culture of power?

Follow the below steps to make sure your office environment is a winning one:

1. Hire Good Cultural Fits

You need to get the right people on board; you can have a good vision but you need exceptional people to take it to the next level. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, one of the strongest advocates of culture “noted that the people you hire represent your company even outside of work. – It’s important to hire people who share your company’s values. A bad hire can damage a whole department, their negativity can spread like the plague and you’ll see that all the hard work you did to keep a positive environment will be ruined.”

2. Review Your Core Values

What’s most important to your business? Do you expect Disney-like customer service? Or do you want a more relaxed environment? Do you want to set some healthy competition between co-workers? Do you want the department to feel like a family rather than just work? To progress and create the best working environment, you must establish some core values and ensure each employee adheres to them.

Here is an example of Zappos 10 successful core values:

Deliver WOW Through Service

Embrace and Drive Change

Create Fun and A Little Weirdness

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

Pursue Growth and Learning

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Do More With Less

Be Passionate and Determined

Be Humble

3. Set Personal Career Goals

It’s important to invest in your employees and ensure they are happy. If an employee feels that they can progress within your great company, then they will not be tempted to look elsewhere. In order to do this, you can have yearly reviews (or every 6 months if your employees want) to go over their workload, ideas and essentially how you can set personal goals with the employee. When we have something to work towards we stay focused and positive in what we are doing.

4. Identify Your Cultural Ambassador

There’s always at least a few people in each company, who live, eat and breathe your culture and are just that little ray of sunshine on a raining day. Identify these employees and get them to help everyone else understand who you are as a firm and what you stand for. Engage with these employees and ask them what they like and don’t like about the business; they can really help you improve as a company.

5. Give Positive Feedback

Giving good feedback will make your employees happy which in turn will increase their productivity. Kissmetrics advised that “when a business is more productive, that means it is working faster; and when it works faster, it can get a leg up on the competition. So it’s worth the investment for companies to build and nourish their culture.”

6. Offer Perks That Your Staff Will Actually Use

Many corporations offer perks, but not ones that the staff will actually use. If you have young staff members that are into fitness you could offer free gym memberships. Alternatively, you could think of something more general like reduced prices at a cinema, or provide an in-house spa day. Having small perks will boost employees morale, which will result in them talking positively about the organisation.

7. Recognise and Reward Success

It’s meaningful to recognise employees’ achievements and reward them for it. This could be in a weekly newsletter or meeting. Be sure to give all employees equal recognition throughout the year, as the ones left behind may begin to feel demotivated. “When employees feel cared about as people, I’ve found they do their best work. They also stay longer, work harder, and produce more, which makes caring an amazing rate of increase. It’s a win-win for everyone” reported Fast Company.   

8. Offer Flexible Working Hours

Many companies don’t offer flexible working hours to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else that must be done during the day. This often rubs employees up the wrong way and you will see that many take more “sick days” than employees at companies that have a flexible environment. It gives workers freedom and results in them being more productive and loyal because they are grateful to have a relaxed workplace.

9. Have an Open Atmosphere

According to a study by SIS International Research, “70% of small to midsize businesses claim ineffective communication is their primary problem.” When you are culture building, it’s essential that you encourage employees to share ideas and problems. There are many times where workers feel scared to speak up which results in them being unhappy and eventually seeking employment elsewhere.

10. Make Sure Your Staff’s Personal Values Match the Companies

Make your vision their vision; involve your employees in big decision making. If you’re taking on a new project, hold a meeting with your staff members. If you share the same core values, they will have good ideas to input and you will all feel like a unit, rather than an employer and employee.

11. Ensure the Working Environment is Fun

It can’t be all work and no play! Make sure the working environment is fun. If people like where they work and have a friendly relationship with their co-workers they will look forward to coming into the office. Lay down the rules to ensure there isn’t too much fun going on, but you don’t want people running out of the kitchen when they see you coming.

12. Trust Your Employees

Having a level of trust within your organisation is crucial. Everyone including management should share it. If an employee is untrustworthy you need to remove them from your office as they will poison their coworkers and create friction.

13. Lead by Example

Leaders must showcase the firm’s values and standards; they must be the strongest representation of the company’s culture and purpose. They have the ambition to strive and do better. Take Richard Branson for example, he has built his company through his passion for travel, luxury and having a good time. As a result, millions of people trust his expertise and purchase his holiday packages and flights each year.

14. Be Clear About Expectations and Follow Through

A progressive company will have a structure that its employees need to adhere to. This structure will clearly be outlined when the worker joins the organisation and they will be helped to meet those expectations. If you and your employee are both on the same page, there are no surprises and everyone is aware of their duties. Sounds like a fair situation to me!

15. Listen to Your Employees

Considering your employee’s opinions is a big part of building a strong culture. It will also help them feel valued, and they may even have some good points to suggest that you didn’t think of. If you hire correctly like we mentioned above, your staff members will have skills that you admire and you will value their input.

16. Arrange Social Events

Of course, in order to have a good company culture, you must encourage your employees to be social with each other. By arranging epic office parties, employees will feel more positive about their work, and will build relationships with people they see on a daily basis.

Dr David "Doc" Vik the founder and CEO of The Culture King and the former coach at Zappos said: “Keep in mind, that within all companies, there is already a culture…but it may not be what is wanted, and many times, the culture is created by default. If you want to create your own unique culture that will help empower your employees and drive your company to success, transforming the culture you already have is a great place to start.”

What do you do to create a positive office environment? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to share this article with fellow entrepreneurs!