Author Bio- Anna Lemos is a creative content editor and strategist at Quick Formations aka Quick. Originally a designer, Anna has worked with various startups and SMEs creating graphics, social media campaigns and brand identities to catapult them into the market. Having blogged since University, she took a creative detour into content writing and is now part of the Quick Team.
Quick aims to inspire, support and guide entrepreneurs, aspiring innovators and startups across the UK. They are part of one of the oldest and biggest company formation agents in the UK with experts ranging from the fresh-faced digital team to the formation veterans.
Anna shares with us an exploration of the importance of developing a company culture which creates the best enviornment for your business to thrive. She's got some excellent advice and tips too!
Why is Company Culture so Important?
Company culture is one of those things that businesses so often overlook. What they don’t realise is that without nurturing their company culture, they could make or break their company. Startups are particularly vulnerable to making this colossal mistake so here’s a heads up on making your company culture your most valuable semi-secret weapon.
A bit of history…
If you look at generations pre-millennials, you’ll realise that securing a long-term job was vital to survival. It was normal to stay in a company for over 25 years because it guaranteed financial security in times such as the Great Depression, World War 2 and the Cold War. Fast forward to modern day, and you’ve got a generation of people born into a prosperous and technology-driven world.
Let me ask you a question: how many people do you know stay at the same company for 5 let alone 25 years? You can probably count them on one hand. Holding on to millennials is just about as easy as trying to hold on to a slippery fish. Millennials, who make up the majority of the workforce, buy into your company community, culture and values and that will be what will attract talent and make your startup soar.
The value of company culture
Ok, so you know millennials buy into this company culture stuff, but what does that actually mean? Your company culture is essentially your company personality and identity. It is even more powerful than your product. It should be alive in every aspect of your company including hiring talent, decision-making and social events. It is the glue to your company and it’s what differentiates you from the competition. See the value yet? Let me expand.
Productivity - It’s simple. If you have happy workers, they are more productive, but more importantly, a company culture gives them something in common. They strive for the same things, are part of a community and have the same values. Recognising individuals and teams for embodying the company culture is a great way to encourage your employees to embrace it.
Creativity - When colleagues shift from being employees to friends they feel safe and comfortable. This is the perfect setting for creativity to ensue. If your employee knows that they can voice an idea without being scared of humiliation, then you’re definitely doing something right!
Quality - Hand in hand with productivity, the quality of work from people that truly care what your company believes in will be tip top. That also means you should be seeing an increase in your ROI (return on investment) thanks to passionate people working to achieve the best results. Awards are a great way to give something for people to aim for and their colleagues to celebrate.
Talent - Your company culture should attract and retain talent. Especially as a startup, sometimes finding talent can be hard, but remember, millennials want to work somewhere that they believe in. You might have attracted talent, but hiring talent is a whole different ball game. You should only ever (and I mean it) hire someone who has good cultural fit. One bad hire can see a drop in morale and see your company become an uncomfortable work environment. If you need someone with specific skills you can always provide training and development to fill in the skill gap. Finally, if people love your company culture, they will stay.
Reputation - Unlike the moral of Beauty and the Beast, the important part of your company isn’t only what’s on the inside, it’s what’s on the outside too. Your company culture should translate into everything you do. That includes your brand image, identity and how you communicate with clients, customers and shareholders. It will really help build up your reputation in the external eye.
How to start creating your company culture
As one of the most valuable assets of your company, you need to spend some time figuring out what your company culture is. It shouldn’t be some lofty values that are forgotten within a month of starting, but rather something real and obtainable. You and your leadership team should create a company culture deck, but first you might want to think about a few things. Here are some ideas that could help bring your company culture together.
Do good - Social responsibility is an ever-growing aspect that both employees and consumers look for in a company. If you decided to take on social responsibility, you need to make sure it isn’t an afterthought to get you some brownie points, but something that you are fully invested in. This could include being involved in local charities, getting teams together to join events such as mud runs or half marathons, or making sure your company works in an environmentally friendly manner. You don’t need to be a social enterprise to have an impact on the world around you.
Workspace - Think about what your company values are and translate that into your workspace. This doesn’t mean you need to get a pool table. If you value transparency, then open plan offices where managers and other company leaders sit amongst regular employees is a great idea. Alternatively, open door policies for managers (if they prefer to work in separate offices) is also a nice touch. If you need multidisciplinary teams, seat them in a way that they can work together and, if you value people taking breaks from work, find an office space that provides an area for people to sit down for lunch, away from their desks. It is the simple touches that improve a work environment and emphasises the company culture. Decor is also something to play with.
Social - Some companies have office managers or ‘fun committees’. These are people that organise social events for the company employees which can range from weekly Friday drinks to an annual company holiday. Industry sporting events, talks and team-building exercises - such asHintHunt – are all great ways to create a sense of community encompassing your values. They can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want.
Perks - Company perks are always a great little extra. They add the cherry on top. This could be as serious as health insurance or as silly as a birthday lucky dip. Choose perks that suit your culture and your budget.
Remember: don’t base your company culture on another company. Sure Innocent looks cool and so does Google, but this is the opportunity to make your company completely unique.
Company culture is the most impactful asset you can have that will never show up on your annual return. Where you’ll see the impact is both in and out of the office. It creates a fun and exciting atmosphere for people to work in and inspires teams and individuals to create quality projects in a strong community. As a startup, the earlier you understand your company culture the better. It will help you with your hiring process, give your company a real identity and increase productivity within the office. Don’t be scared to let it development, but remember, company culture is not something that has to be maintained, instead, you have to let it grow.
Thanks for the brilliant social media Insights Anna! We look forward to getting some more great insights from you and Quick soon!
Mi-IDEA Manchester looks for disruptive startups
11th Apr 2017
Tech Startups take note - this Manchester evening meetup on 26th April 17, will give you all the key info you need to know about the Manchester based MI-IDEA post accelerator programme...