By Jon Richards
Jon Richards, founder and CEO of compareit4me, believes that a company’s culture - the atmosphere in the office and the energy among the team members - has a major impact on the success of the business. He shares the six most important lessons for creating a great company culture he has learnt while building his business
All work and no play means less work
Workplace-related stress costs American companies more than $300 billion per year. However, when people feel like they have fun at work, they are much less likely to take sick days. Not only that, it has been proven time and time again that creativity and productivity soar when people are enjoying themselves at work. At compareit4me.com, our idea of office-based fun is active. Nerf gun wars, space hopper races, scooters, pranks – anything and everything is welcomed and enjoyed. We go running together, we socialise together and we generally have a very family atmosphere - albeit a family with an unusually large number of hyper siblings. It works for us. According to a survey by BrightHR, this type of boisterous fun is to be expected of Millennials (those born after 1980), while Gen-Xers (those born before 1980) and older might be more interested in company spa days and dinners at classy restaurants.
Empowered people are more motivated
You can empower your team in many ways, such as offering them trainings to enhance their current skill sets or allowing them the opportunity to learn new languages. However, we have found that the best way to achieve this is to offer them a certain level of autonomy; to give your employees a chance to run projects and achieve goals in their own way. However, this theory buckles if staff are scared to try something new in case they get shamed and blamed. The take-home here is not to demand perfection from your team, but to encourage and support them to experiment. Not only does it create a space for effective new solutions and ideas, but it also shows your employees that you trust and believe in their capabilities and, whether it works or not, it is always an opportunity for the entire team to learn.
Flexibility is key
A study by PGi found that 89 percent of workers from every generation believe that work-life balance is key to being happy at work and 74 percent want to be able to work from home occasionally. These days we do not need to be tied to our desks in order to achieve great things. For some employers, this is a nerve-wrecking thought. But employee KPIs and targets are now more meritocratic than time-based. So, as long as your staff are doing what you pay them to do, does it matter if some of that greatness is achieved from a cafe, or from their sofa, or at 4.00am when they can’t sleep? Experts predict that in the future, this style of flexible working will be the norm. Try welcoming the future into your company now by asking yourself, as an employer, how you can extend flexibility to your employees and what will you get from them in return.
Celebrate the good times – all of them
Whether it is an important work-related win, or a small one, someone’s birthday, or a new member of staff joining the team, go out of your way to really celebrate it. Firstly, your employees will go home buzzing about their great day in the office. Secondly, why not?
A ‘We-Team” is better than a “Me-Team”
As Aristotle said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you can get your team to work together as a unit, your company will start to flow. This means working together for a common goal. It also means sharing victories, as well as sharing fails. Everyone in the company should feel like they are part of the entire story… And this attitude has to start from the top down. As the boss, step out of the big office and get your hands dirty with some of the more junior tasks when needed. If you want everyone to pitch in and help each other for the greater good of the brand, you need to model this attitude.
The future is young
Fact is, there are now more Millennials working than any other age bracket and they are simply not content with the old school corporate ways. The PGi survey shows that 37 percent of Millennials would take a pay cut in return for more flexibility at work, 71 percent want their colleagues to be like their second family and 88 percent want to work in a fun company. As these people are the future of your business, why wouldn’t you create an environment that they want to work in? According to the BrightHR study, the top five activities that were felt to bring fun to the workplace are Dress Down Friday (25 percent), office parties and nights out (21 percent), a pool table (19 percent), an office pet (18 percent) and wellbeing massage days (17 percent).
Finally, the most important point to remember is that the word ‘culture’ means ‘the way of life of a group of people’. Your company’s culture is not about the colour of the walls, or the mottos on the wall. Culture cannot be faked, it is a way of life that comes from the top. Every company has good days and bad days - that is an unavoidable fact. We know that the culture at compareit4me means we are better at retaining staff and it is easier to attract top talent. We know our future success is down to the team so we have to invest in them and create an environment that helps them grow.