A strong company culture may be the most important key to success in today's business world. By creating an innovative, forward-thinking, friendly, and rewarding company culture, you will draw in stronger candidates, hire better employees, keep those employees for longer, and get higher quality work out of them. In contrast, a poor company culture will create turnover problems, damage your brand reputation via word-of-mouth, scare employees away, and cause the workers who do stick around to give bare minimum effort.
Building a vibrant company culture should be high on your list of priorities as you continue to grow your business. The question is, how can you do it? Here are six steps that you can take to innovate and improve the culture at your business.
1. Use background checks to reduce employee turnover
In all likelihood, your business is already using background checks to flag criminal histories and create a safer workplace. However, you should also be using background checks to verify resumes and fight against employee turnover. According to CareerBuilder, 58% of employers have caught applicants lying on their resumes. These bits and pieces of dishonesty can be anything from embellished job titles or skills lists to fabricated college degrees or professional licenses.
Hiring someone without the qualifications to perform the job at hand risks incompetence and replacement. Not only can these issues cost you in employee turnover, but they can also damage your company culture. It's tough for your employees to forge relationships and make a "home" for themselves at work when new hires don't last very long. By using verification background checks to vet your candidates fully, you give yourself better odds of selecting hires that stick.
2. Give your employees a voice (and then listen to it)
When all of the decisions are made by higher-ups and then passed down through the organization, it's easy for entry-level workers to start feeling like grunts. Empower your employees and give them a voice—and then make a point of listening to it. Be transparent with company information and inform employees about new plans, contracts, projects, and more. Solicit employee feedback. Hire managers who work closely with lower-down employees and encourage them to share ideas. Use collaboration software so that employees have easy access to information and can share their ideas together. Not only will your employees feel more valued in a system in which they feel like they are being heard, but some of them might also have fantastic, innovative ideas that could help your business grow.
3. Embrace technology (and use it to be more flexible)
It used to be that a 9-to-5 office day was almost unavoidable. When everyone is in the office together, it's easier to oversee employees, schedule meetings, put together teams to collaborate on projects, and stay in constant communication. The thing is, what most modern professionals want is flexibility. They want flexibility in their day-to-day schedules, their vacations, and their time. They want to be able to work from home as they see fit, or take a day off at the last minute to visit with out-of-town friends or leave early for a holiday vacation.
With modern technology, it's easy to do work remotely or on the go without breaking communication, foregoing deadlines, or missing vital meeting information. From cloud-based storage to online collaboration suites, it's easy to harness this tech so that it benefits your company culture. Your employees will appreciate the extra flexibility and autonomy and will value their jobs and their work more because of it.
4. Establish a mission and articulate goals for each employee
Establishing a company mission is hardly innovative, but taking time with each employee and making sure they understand where they fit into that mission is. Not enough companies encourage an optimal level of one-on-one time between employees and managers. Having workers who feel "adrift" is the ultimate Achilles' heel for modern business. When your people don't know about the company's overarching mission—as well as its current goals, objectives, and projects—it's far easier for them to feel like they are just "punching the clock" every day.
Solve this issue by taking the time to establish individual goals and objectives for your employees. Make them see how they fit into the overall company mission. When your employees feel like they are working toward something, they are far more likely to give their all. This kind of hardworking, directional atmosphere also radiates, creating a culture of excitement and change rather than one of stagnant boredom.
5. Innovate the design and flow of your workspace
There's a reason cubicle farms have mostly gone out of style in the modern workplace: they isolate your workers. Having each person in a different cubicle cuts that person off from the rest of the office and creates one-person work silos rather than emphasizing the team mentality. You don't necessarily have to jump straight into the communal workplace idea, where every person is working at the same desk or table. However, wide-open offices certainly breed better inter-office relationships and more of a teamwork mentality. Increasing the amount of natural light, decorating the office in a welcoming way, and using a layout that looks more like a living room than a corporate office can help promote a bright and innovative company culture.
6. Promote teamwork and collaboration
We've already talked a lot about teamwork and collaboration in this article, but they deserve their own bullet point for how vital they are to company culture. There are many ways to promote teamwork, and we've already covered a few of them: open up the office layout, establish shared and individual objectives, and utilize online cloud collaboration networks.
But why is collaboration so important? When your employees are working closely together, they will forge relationships and feel like they are a part of something. This atmosphere creates a tight-knit feel at the office and makes it emotionally harder for employees to leave—thereby cutting down on turnover. More than that, collaboration also brings out opposing viewpoints, encourages discussion and disagreement, and helps bring new and innovative ideas to the forefront.
Guest Contributor: Michael Klazema
Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.
Photo by Breather