If you could ever walk into the office of TimelyLab (the freelancer workspace that we have created in Vilnius) your eyes would notice motivational quotes, inside jokes, a bunch of photos and personal favourite phrases on the walls. You can notice these little things in every company if you pay attention – a list of rules, DO’s and DON’Ts, posters and photos. All of this is a hint of the shared values and beliefs of the company.
Positive company culture is a “must-have” for every organisation if they want to retain employees and grow their business. Sadly enough in general, only 28% of employees are satisfied with overall company culture. That means the rest do not feel appreciated for their time and efforts.
Let’s focus on the benefits that positive company culture brings:
- Motivation and productivity
- Employee retention
- Clear vision
- Efficient decision-making process
- Less stress and dissatisfaction
- Attract more talents and keep them
How to transform company culture?
1. Hire people that fit your company culture
Think twice before hiring. Don’t rely on impressive resumes and recommendation letters until you see how the person fits into the whole picture. Let them see the office and meet the team first. Ask more about their passion and life, and let them talk. If I could give one piece of advice on hiring a new person, always hire a candidate whose passion has been proven by their actions. At the TimelyLab we ask all candidates to come into the office for a one day training session. We are always looking for how people integrate, how they help other people, how they approach new tasks and if their attitude will inspire others too?
2. Offer flexibility
Flexible hours is an important aspect for every company, especially for growing millennials. However, some fail to make it work and give too much freedom which later becomes unmanageable. I would suggest setting up a schedule of times they can work from home and from the office, define clear process and expectations upfront, make sure they know their daily tasks and goals to achieve for that day. Employees who have even a small degree of flexibility tend to engage with the company more and experience less stress – that’s always a plus!
3. Training and more training
Never underestimate the benefits of having regular team meetings and training. The latter is especially important for both new and existing employees as they learn new skills and set goals for themselves. It also helps you oversee and adjust the learning process if needed. Always make sure they understand why the things are done in a certain way and what is the context of it. Another important aspect is to let them know that it is OK to make mistakes. Trying and failing is part of the learning process, however, you have to be aware that it is NOT OK to hide failures and brush them off without acknowledging and learning from them.
4. Praise and respect
When you praise your employee, it is not only about the job. No doubt it boosts their motivation, self-esteem and confidence but it also makes them feel heard and noticed. By making someone feel wanted and appreciated you will see a rapid increase in their motivation and desire to want to help your company to keep moving forward, through good times and bad.
5. Involve everyone in shaping the company culture
When you see things are not going well in the team – talk it out. Having a bad day is fine – we all have it from time to time, but when you feel that the pressure is taking over and your team’s dissatisfaction is growing, you have to react immediately. Open communication can really ease the tension between the colleagues, so dedicate some time to a group chat, voice your concerns, ask for their feedback and, finally, reach a mutual agreement.
6. Re-think company values
Have you ever heard of Holocracy? It claims to be a revolutionary approach to the traditional employee management system. Successful companies like Zappos and Medium have adopted and practiced Holocracy because they got fed up with traditional management and hierarchical relationships. Instead, their employees were given a decision-making power and authority to direct their work, which resulted in positive change in company culture. When a company is in the need to re-shape their core values and structure, Holocracy might be the way to really shake the things up. Adopting such system will impact company’s mentality and overall environment and is it not easy to adapt to at first, but the reward is self-motivated and committed team.
7. Get out of the office
Team building should not be seen as “boring but obligatory” task. There are many ways you can improve company culture by getting out of the office and just taking a small break. Here at the TimelyLab, we take team building seriously: we organize 2-day retreat trips to the countryside, go on a hike or adventure park, or simply go for a nice lunch in the Old Town. Whenever we feel the need for a break during the weekdays, we all stop for a coffee and lounge on the bean bags to recharge our brains and get the energy back. Even though we all are different and unique personalities, we encourage and respect each other.
What we learn from the above points is that company culture is never static – it fluctuates with every new person you hire or fire. It is important for the company to establish and encourage behaviours that are true to its core values. There’s nothing wrong with establishing personal relationships with your team as it only builds stronger connections and encourages open discussion of ideas, thoughts and problems. Building the right company culture at AFA Technologies is an ongoing process but all of our team takes an important part in it.