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Start-Ups

How to Foster a Strong Company Culture

By Barbara Beauregard   |    February 4, 2015   |    12:10 PM

The Importance of a Good Company Culture for Employee Morale

When employers think of company culture, they often think of company perks, retreats, overall corporate vibe - or – and potentially worse – “ trust falls”. But company customs aren’t all about the perks. Instead, it’s the day-to-day operations and interactions of employees that have the biggest impact on a business’s staff morale.

It’s easy to have good company traditions and morals in the beginning. More than likely, the business has hired likeminded professionals to jump-start the company, and they’re just as dedicated and optimistic about its future. As the company grows, however, it can be difficult to maintain those communal values.

The Problems of a Bad Company Culture

Negative company cultures aren’t just an internal problems – it affects future hires as well. If the atmosphere is toxic, people aren’t happy or committed to their work. Gossip may reign, and cliques may form. Employees quit, and oftentimes not quietly.

Employees that had a negative experience may share these experiences with the outside world via social media or even word of mouth. This may keep good hires from applying at the company, which keeps the company from attracting talent that could help the business prosper.

How to Maintain a Good Company Culture

To prevent any of the above scenarios from happening, here are some tips to bolster the company way of life.

1. Truth in advertising: When potential applicants are reviewing job postings for your business, a savvy prospect will more than likely interview their potential managers as much as the managers are interviewing them. Why? Well, they want to find a company that fits their personality just as much as the company wants an employee that fits their position. Don’t over-sell the internal values. If an applicant doesn’t work well in a micromanaged structure, don’t downplay the fact that your business is highly managed. If hired, that applicant will quickly learn that they’ve been mislead and may become a negative and disgruntled force in the office. Always be straightforward regarding your company’s management style.

2. Encourage communication and engagement: While an open-door policy may not work at every company, there should be at least someone(s) that staff can go to express grievances or even share ideas. These people act like “glue” to keep all the employees happy and committed to the company. Some companies have even created “culture committees” to onboard new employees and get involved in planning community events, improving company morale and helping to attract more committed and engaged employees.

3. Challenge and reward: Most employees don’t want to do the same job day-in, day-out. They like to be challenged and learn new skills that they can use for future promotions or new positions. Give your staff assignments that stretch their skills. Reward employees for jobs well done. Foster team spirit and collaboration by offering prizes to teams that exceed goals for the month or the quarter.

4. Keep in touch with employees: Don’t wait for minor issues to become real problems. Many employees won’t come right out and say that they’re unhappy. But it will become apparent in when they start coming to work later and later, skipping meetings, or simply not getting as much work done. Have check-in meetings with employees to determine their level of happiness, and try to correct problems before a good employee is lost.

5. Good employees follow good leadership: Company communal values truly start with leadership. If leadership is highly political and backstabbing, then the employees experience this environment begin to take on those same attributes. While it’s a cliché to say this, it’s important to lead by example. Management should encourage employees and have a positive attitude about the direction of the business.

Company culture is typically built over many years. A bad company culture can be hard to correct once it’s in place. Fostering a positive company culture should be a priority for every business right from the start.