These days when jobs are harder to come by, company leaders may be tempted to think they don't have a responsibility to foster a working environment their employees will rave about. After all, their employees are probably grateful just to have jobs, right? Even if this is true, focusing on a positive corporate culture isn't just about keeping great workers. It's about developing them. Only then will your business be able to stay in front of the competition.
Lead with a Vision
Sure every company wants to make money and be a leader in their field, but let's be honest, who wants to work overtime for that kind of limited vision? People want to change the world, so show them how they can do that through their position at your company.
- Post the company mission statement and goals in every office, so each employee sees them daily.
- Make it a priority for every employee to be able to recite the company mission statement.
- Establish a pattern of asking and showing each employee how they can help the company accomplish its vision.
Hire the right people
While you may find intelligent, highly qualified people to work for you, if they aren't a good match for your corporate culture, neither of you will be happy in the end. Make sure to throw in some questions during the interview that will reveal what type of working environment would be a good fit for each interviewee. Only invite back those who fit your company's corporate culture.
- When coworkers suggest a new hire, make it a point to ask why they think the person would be a good fit for the company.
- Always contact references for potential new hires and ask them what type of working environment would be the best match for the interviewee.
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Be Intentional about the Perks
Your company could have a great vacation package worth thousands of dollars a year, but you might be surprised to find it's the low cost perks that often add up to the greatest bang for a company's buck. Why not try monthly drawings for a restaurant gift card, casual Friday dress, or an extra 15 minute lunch on Wednesdays?
- Survey your workers from time to time about what perks they appreciate most from the company.
- Don't be afraid to ask employees what perks they would add if they could. It doesn't mean you have to add any or all of them right away as long as people know their opinions matter to you.
Keep the Creative Juices Flowing
Companies that stay ahead of their competition are ones that are continually evolving, and to do that, you need employees who feel safe being creative and can embrace change. That doesn't happen in an office environment that rewards efficiency without also encouraging some daydream time. So establish avenues for employees to share new ideas, and as they see those ideas taken seriously, you'll be amazed on the overall positive effect on the company.
- Post an open ended question for the week that each employee can respond to for 5-10 minutes each day. How about questions like, "If you could add any innovation to the products or services we offer, what would it be?" or "What do you see as the greatest challenge our industry will face in the next year?"
- Set aside 5-10 minutes during each weekly meeting to brainstorm solutions to current company challenges or to offer ideas for new products or services.
Ask for Feedback and Want It
It's a fine balance for leaders to steer their companies in the best directions without being overly influenced by changing opinions yet still be in touch with them. In terms of getting the most out of your employees, though, there's great value in letting them know that their constructive feedback is welcomed.
- Survey your workers from time to time about what they appreciate most in working for the company and what they would like to see change. Then, use their feedback to continually improve the business.
- Encourage employees to provide feedback about working for your company at sites like GlassDoor.com or CareerBliss.com. You might not like everything you find out through the anonymous posts, but at least when the information is out there in the open, you can deal with it before it threatens the health of your company.
Fostering a corporate culture that values its workers and helps them stretch themselves creatively is not only good for a company's employees. It's also good for business… no matter what the economy is like.