Building company culture is hard. It’s an ongoing process that takes time and a well-considered approach to build your organization into the type of company you want it to be (and that your employees want to work for, too).
But what if you don’t have that time? What if your company is at an inflection point, approaching a crisis of culture? Maybe you need to boost company morale because you know it’s low, and you’re worried that employees are going to fly. Maybe you’ve heard from other members of your leadership team that people don’t have interest in sticking around for the long haul the way they once did.
Of course, a quick fix is never a substitute for a real investment in your company’s culture. But if you need to make ASAP changes, here are some things that you can do starting today that can really make a difference.
Many companies, especially startups, often talk about the flexibility that their culture offers employees. Sometimes, though, workers can find a gulf between the kind of latitude that they imagined and what they’re actually granted once they arrive.
Yes, you have a business to run—and some work truly does need to be done in office. But a major culture-killer for many employees is the feeling of being tethered to their desks, especially when they believe that they perform certain duties more effectively from home. Not only do 86% of employees say they’re most productive when they work alone, but two-thirds of managers see more productivity from their teams when they offer the flexibility of remote work.
These work-from-home statistics are eye-opening. Broaden your remote work policy, and you might see surprising returns right away to benefit your culture.
You can’t know what to fix within your company culture if you don’t know what’s broken in the first place. The best place to figure it out? Ask your team.
And listen closely.
You might have low-lift, high-impact opportunities to improve your culture. You might sense common themes among the requests they make, or the issues that they mention. They’ll probably identify some larger areas of work, too. But the first step is allowing them to submit their feedback, and actively demonstrating that you’re listening. Then, the next is creating actionable implementation plans that you share with them for first phases of changes.
Part of creating a real cultural change in your company, though, is proving that you’re committed to listening. Schedule another feedback session ASAP so your staffers have something concrete to look forward to. Also, consider putting other mechanisms in place, such as Bloom, Pomello, or TINYpulse, which solicit ongoing cultural feedback. Or, try the good old suggestion box—just try to keep as anonymous as possible so employees feel comfortable.
It’s much harder to be a woman in the workplace than a man—that’s not a secret anyone’s trying to keep. Big strides, such as fixing wage gaps, maternity policies, or even building safe spaces for lactation, are time-consuming (but necessary) culture builders. There are faster fixes you can implement now, though.
Adding amenities to women’s restrooms including sanitary products that your female staffers might have to leave the building for or spend their own money on can make employees feel cared for. Similarly, nursing mothers carry many products back and forth with them. Offer somewhere secure and private for them to store personal belongings so they don’t have to lug bulky supplies with them.
A healthy work culture means all people in all life stages are not only accepted, but welcome.
The little things make the biggest difference. And a lot of little things add up, fast.
Ask your employees: What one small change would make your day that much better? Maybe you don’t realize it, but that fully stocked snack closet that you’re so proud of never has a single healthy snack in it. Or, perhaps, you’re diligent about taking care of vegetarians and vegans during team outings, but not as mindful of the non-drinkers. It could be that one of the engineers would prefer one more floating day at home during the week to get to her work.
Give them some examples of the kind of changes for which you’re looking. Some of these changes might be able to be implemented quickly, and can improve morale faster than you even thought. Plus, seeing a leader who responds to requests—no matter how small—demonstrates that you care about their needs on the entire spectrum.
Though building a great company culture is a long term project that you’ll want to dedicate time and resources to, there are a few things you can do today that can make for a better tomorrow for all of your employees. Though they may seem small, little perks can go a long way in keeping your team motivated and engaged.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
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