“I love working here.” There is no better declaration from an employee. Employees who enjoy where they work yield deeper engagement, more thoughtful collaboration, innovative ideas and have an overall desire to succeed. Simply put, it is good for them, and for business.
Companies in every corner of the globe spend a lot of time and resources digging deep to understand and cultivate a culture leading employees to love where they work. What makes a company a “great place to work”? The answer varies based on company size, geographic location, industry, perks, career opportunity, work-life balance and the list goes on.
That aside, companies that are considered by their employees to be a great place to work have at least one common denominator – their corporate culture was not built overnight.
So how are these rare gems of successful and “loved” cultures born? It’s achieved by acting upon these five best practices. While they may seem obvious on the surface, building these practices into a company’s DNA leads to employees proudly declaring their admiration, respect and affection to a company.
1. Understand the Unspoken Culture
A company culture is so much more than having a bright yellow slide in your headquarters or on-campus cafeterias; it is also about the underlying tone of the company and its employees. Just because a company doesn’t outwardly define its corporate culture doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The unintentional culture is more about the environment employees naturally create themselves and it is just as important for companies to understand what this is. Are employees competitive? Do leaders encourage idea sharing? Do teams bond outside of work? Taking the time to understand the unspoken culture at any company will help leaders create programs that align with employee values. The result will enhance the underlying cultural groundwork already in place.
2. Ask for (and Listen to) Feedback
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill
Annual employee surveys may be monotonous, but they’re still a critical component to building a positive corporate culture. Providing employees with the outlet to let their voice be heard anonymously is a great way to get honest feedback on how programs and initiatives are received. But asking for feedback isn’t good enough. To truly make a difference, company leadership must be prepared to act. Employees understand that change may not happen overnight, but knowing that senior leaders are listening and working towards solutions goes a long way toward creating a positive corporate culture.
3. Communicate the Vision
Of course employees will know the company’s general goal – sell X product, provide Y service – but do they have a sense of personal responsibility to reach that result? The key to having a company’s vision truly resonate with employees is to explain how it specifically connects to each team, department and employee. Understanding how internal team goals directly impact the company’s path to success enables employees to feel empowered, resulting in ownership of responsibilities and pride in their work.
4. Support Growth Opportunities
All great leaders will agree – people are a company’s most valuable asset. As such, it is a company’s responsibility to provide its employees with opportunities to advance within the company, and as professionals. Nothing engages employees more than having a plan for their future. Career roadmaps, or individual development plans, give employees the reigns to their future, while robust internal training and mentorship programs allow employees to be constantly honing their skills. External conferences, networking opportunities, and degrees/certificates are equally important. Learning and development offerings demonstrate to employees that their company is willing to invest in their future, resulting in a workforce that values personal improvement.
5. Celebrate Success
The most obvious, and fun, way to breed a positive culture is to take the time to celebrate the big (and little) events. From company barbeques and department birthday cakes, to monetary incentives and stock options, it is important to stop and recognize employees’ hard work. Having a chance to take a break, revel in an accomplishment, and socialize with coworkers rejuvenates employees and is a great way to end a successful project. Who doesn’t like feeling valued?
A positive company culture helps attract and retain top talent, and is a clear differentiator between a good company and a great company. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating and maintaining a corporate culture, companies that are recognized as a “great place to work” understand the importance of a satisfied workforce.