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5 Surprising Tips that Will Turn Your Company Culture into a Force of Nature

16. May 2016 08:00

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Think company culture is just for mega corporations? Think again.

A good company culture is your business's magnetic pull: it attracts talented employees and makes them want to stay (even when big competitors can offer more money-wise). Check out these five tips from successful small-business owners and HR professionals that can help you create a culture that engages and retains quality talent.

1.  Know that Perks Aren't a Substitute for Culture

GreenPal (@YourGreenPal) cofounder and CEO Bryan Clayton says ping pong tables, free lunches, and massages can make a company a great place to work, but don’t mistake the fun stuff with real culture.

“These are the perks that help keep employees happy and a great company on top, not necessarily what propels it to greatness.” Instead, he says, “Culture should refer to the aligning values of the organization; do you and your team members all believe in the same things? What is your team’s mantra?”

The takeaway: Few people will hang on to an unfulfilling job just to have a turn at the foosball table. A strong culture, says Clayton, creates trust, loyalty, passion, and purpose. Find out what truly makes your employees content to take your company culture to the next level.

2. Treat Your Company Culture Like a Garden

Bob Helbig, the media relationships director with Workplace Dynamics (@WPDynamics), says much of culture comes down to what is learned, cultivated, and practiced.

“Treat the workplace like a garden; it needs constant tending.” He adds, “If you get to the point where you think everything is going well, don't expect it to be perpetual. The work never stops.” 

The takeaway: A healthy business culture is worth the effort you put into maintaining it. Remember, the goal is to create an environment that attracts and retains quality talent, which in turns helps keep your business great.

Establish your values early on so you can cultivate the culture you want, but don't be afraid to adapt as your team grows. Learn more in “4 Overlooked Ways Your Business Changes When You Make Your First Hire.”

3. Make It Real

“It's not enough for companies to vie for top talent with the same desirable cultural traits,” says Karen Jaw-Madson (@KarenJaw), principal of Co.- Design of Work Experience. “An organization must make clear what makes them uniquely differentiated and special in both word and deed.”

In other words, make sure your company culture is genuine so that the values you articulate match the lived experience. When you can do that, Jaw-Madson says it can attract and retain the right talent – the kind that will thrive in your culture.

The takeaway: The competition for quality employees can be fierce, but the winners are the business owners who find skilled people who also fit their culture. Create a workplace that makes them say, “I want to be part of that.”

4. Lead by Example

Todd Averett, president of Leading People Partners, says, “Leaders, like it or not, play a huge role in forming culture.”

They’re the ones who are most involved in aligning policies, process, and procedures with the desired culture. Plus, if management only pays lip service to your stated values, employees won't take it seriously either.

The takeaway: While you want to give voice to your employees, Averett says you might also want to think carefully about who you hire for leadership roles. Ensure they’ve demonstrated the desired values and culture before adding them to your staff.  And while you’re at, strive for that consistency in your own behaviors.

5. Embrace Diversity

Sharing values doesn't necessarily mean you want everyone on your staff to look, think, and act the same.

In fact, Eunice Kim, director of culture and talent for Kaleidoscope (@Kaleidoscopers), suggests you keep diversity top of mind: “Different backgrounds, experiences, and career paths can be the pieces that keep your culture alive and relevant.” She recommends defining what cultural fit means for your team.

The takeaway: Cultural fit is very important, but it’s not the same as building a team that moves in lockstep. Different perspectives bring in fresh ideas, so consider hiring the candidate who can bring their unique experiences to the table.

Handling diversity in the hiring process can be tricky. Get tips to protect your business in “5 Interview Questions that Could Get You Sued.”

Tags:

How to Grow Your Business | HR | Small Business | Small Business Trends | Tips for All Small Businesses

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