How to build a strong company culture

Company culture means more than just what goes on in the boardrooms and offices of a business. It’s how people interact with each other, from executives to those who recently entered the company. The human resources department impacts how company culture operates both directly and indirectly.

Their interaction with staff sets a bar that other interpersonal discussions can be measured by. HR’s implementation of rules and regulations helps to gently push employees to behave or act in a certain way.

We asked 13 professionals from Forbes Human Resources Council how HR impacts company culture, and why the department’s role was significant. Here’s what they told us.

Members explain the role of human resources departments in building a sustainable company culture.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Helping Leaders Drive Consistency

Company culture is much more than written values. If leadership doesn’t embody them, they aren’t worth the webpage on which they are published. Culture is driven from the top and emits through every layer as exemplified by the next person in the chain. HR has to help leaders drive consistency and repetition of the cultural expectations to ensure the standards are set and upheld at all levels. – Dedra Ward, Equifax, Inc.

2. Modeling The Behavior They Want To See

It’s HR’s role to model the behavior they would like to see from a cultural standpoint. They should be one of the driving forces of creating and embodying what the company culture is. This is a significant role because employees are watching their People teams and will hold them accountable. – Dominique Farnan, DotConnect

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3. Keeping A Pulse On Company Culture

It’s pivotal that HR leads by example and also keeps a pulse on company culture. We think of culture as something stagnant, but in fact, it ebbs and flows over time. Take the time to step back and reflect on what the organization needs at any given moment. A strong HR leader will know when to boost morale, be the calm in the storm or step in as a strategic voice of reason. – Natalie Rast, Y7 Studio

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

4. Shaping Company Perception For All Hires

HR shapes the perception of the company for all recruits and new hires. To effectively orient new employees, HR should present the company culture throughout the onboarding process, including in-department training. And, as HR supports rising talent and internal moves, HR needs to be making decisions that support the company’s aspirational culture. – Courtney Pace, Ph.D., FedEx Employees Credit Assoc.

5. Acting As A Conduit For Conversations

At the heart of an organization is their culture, real and perceived. In order to build and sustain a positive culture, HR can act as a conduit for discussions to flow across the organization. Culture can shift for any given reason. HR must be at the center of that shift and work with others to respond timely and appropriately. Recognizing the shift and responding is significant to the role. – Tina R. Walker, California Community Foundation

6. Ensuring That Culture Continues To Thrive

If employees are the heart, HR is the beat. We ensure that the great culture that has been built by our employees continues to thrive. This includes everything from hiring the best people, to offering programs to continuously develop our employees, to ensuring that the exit process is positive. – Lotus Buckner, NCH

7. Operationalizing Organization Values

HR has a real opportunity to operationalize the values of the organization, which is the foundation of the culture, through policies and procedures. For example, if you want a culture of collaboration and teamwork, then you need policies and procedures in place that help disrupt silos between departments. – Rebecca Baumgartner, Ogletree Deakins

8. Ensuring Communication, Process Integration

The values and beliefs of an organization shape its unique culture. A great HR team will not only help their organization to understand what they stand for, they will ensure communication and process integration to live their values. Organizational values and beliefs are also used to inform how we hire, develop skills and make decisions. – MJ Vigil, PEMCO Insurance

9. Harnessing The Connection To Meaningful Work

An often-overlooked role of HR is the importance of creating momentum by harnessing the connection to meaningful work. Employees want to be engaged in activities that go beyond the simply transactional. They want to contribute to long-term, lasting change. HR can help define a company’s common purpose and plays a crucial role in celebrating the impact of each individual’s contributions. – Debra Thorpe, Kelly

10. Acting As Stimulator And Steward Of Culture

HR is the stimulator and steward of culture. They work with leaders to turn culture vision into tangible actions and artifacts. They connect the dots between the beliefs and behaviors that reflect culture and how it manifests through people – for example, in rewards, promotions and hiring. They also enable managers to communicate values and standards. HR makes culture come alive! – Karen Crone, Paycor, Inc.

11. Advocating For A Culture Built For The People

Our role is to advocate for a culture that’s built for the people within it. In order for the culture to be sustainable, it has to make sense and be supported by doable practices. HR’s role is to understand how the business operates, what the people in it do and what they need in order to fulfill their potential. HR has to translate and advocate for these things within the culture. – Keri Higgins Bigelow, LivingHR, Inc.

12. Acting As The Company Translator

I like to think of HR as the company translator. It is our job to take what is on paper for culture and make it real. We make the culture livable, scalable and alive for everyone. Real things grow and transform over time – like in COVID-19, cultures changed overnight. HR made the translation for everyone and created a remote culture, a norm for most companies. – Kelly Loudermilk, BuildHR, Inc.

13. Upholding The Cultural Pillars

Founded on a core-values-blueprint, culture is envisioned by leadership and cultivated by employees. HR is the collaborator and coach in empowering employees to build strong organizational identities revolving around this blueprint. HR upholds the cultural pillars by distilling the culture for its people and, in turn, translating employee feedback into sustainable and inviting workplaces. – Jay Polaki, HR Geckos

How to build a strong company culture

“Company culture” is a big buzzword these days. But, whether or not you embrace the jargon, it’s important to realize that your company — and every company — already has a culture.

Company culture comprises things like how people deal with problems, how open you are to innovation, and how managers interact with employees. When these things are aligned with your company’s vision, your company culture is strong.

This has many benefits:

  • You’ll create more connection with your customers.
  • You’ll attract — and retain — better talent who are more in line with your vision.
  • You’ll have a clearer path forward as a company.

The Alternative Board (TAB) recently surveyed business owners to learn what makes a strong company culture and to understand the challenges they face. You can read the results of the survey here.

How to build a strong company culture

One of the most interesting findings was that the longer an owner has been in business, the more likely they are to believe that the burden of creating a strong culture falls on their shoulders. In fact, over 47% of those who have been in business for over 20 years hold this belief.

So what can you as a business owner do to create a strong company culture?

The answer to that question lies in the survey results, as well. Respondents identified five areas: demonstrate strong leadership, build personal connections between customers and employees, create greater transparency, increase profitability, and improve the work environment.

How to build a strong company culture

Demonstrate strong leadership

As I mentioned, a large number of business owners believe that the responsibility for creating a strong company culture rests on his or her shoulders. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that the top thing they believed would help improve a company’s culture was to demonstrate strong leadership.

If you want a strong company culture, all the employee handbooks and memos in the world won’t override weak leadership. It’s a clear case where actions definitely speak louder than words.

Good management leads by providing an unwavering example for the rest of your employees. Strong, dedicated leaders can turn a company around. Ineffective and apathetic leaders, on the other hand, will only set the company free from its moorings.

How to build a strong company culture

Build a personal connection between customers and employees

The second most popular way for leaders to build a strong company culture is to improve the personal connections between customers and employees.

Keeping the customer or end-user in the forefront helps build a strong company culture because it keeps the mission clear. When employees can clearly see the effect of their job on the customer, they have greater buy-in to the culture of your company.

Creating those bonds is not always easy. Frontline employees who have daily contact with the customer already have this bond, but other employees who are in less visibly customer-oriented positions can lose sight of the customer if they’re not careful.

While it may not be possible or practical to have all of your employees spend a day working directly with customers, circulating customer success stories or case studies to your team is a good surrogate.

How to build a strong company culture

Create greater transparency

Trust is a critical component for strong company culture, and transparency throughout management is one of the best ways to build trust.

Be transparent about:

  • goals
  • vision
  • anticipated results
  • expectations
  • periods of change
  • setbacks

Transparency doesn’t have to mean over-sharing — but if you’re more transparent than not, you will earn your employees’ trust in situations where you’re not able to share every detail.

How to build a strong company culture

Improving morale

The last two ideas both received smaller percentages of votes by respondents, and they can both be distilled down to the concept of “improving morale.”

Increase profitability: When a company’s fortunes are on the rise, employees are more likely to feel positive. It also can create a sense of openness and experimentation that helps build a strong culture.

Upgrade work environment: Investing the surroundings of your employer is another way to raise morale and create a stronger sense of community.

Take a look at the rest of the survey questions. How would you have responded? Do you feel like your company culture is strong, or could you make improvements?

Read the rest of the survey results here: What Makes a Culture Strong?

Jodie Shaw is the Chief Marketing Officer for The Alternative Board (TAB), a global company providing small to medium sized business leaders help, advice and focus through business advisory boards and coaching.

What do shoes, airplanes, and a mouse have in common? Think more specifically Zappos, JetBlue, and Disney, and a universal and fundamental theme emerges. These companies are all revered for their thriving and coveted corporate cultures – cultures that customers and employees are falling in love with and, thereby, helping drive business success.

Culture can make or break a company. According to a Bain & Company Survey of 365 companies in Europe, Asia, and North America, 81 percent believe that a company lacking a high-performance culture is doomed to mediocrity. Fewer than 10 percent succeed in building one.

Startups take notice. Culture is incredibly important because it sets the tone for everything from how the early team interacts to the kinds of hires made to how customers are treated. One mistake can set you back months. On the other hand, you have the opportunity set your company apart by building a winning culture.

Look at companies like Facebook, a great example of a culture known for famously encouraging its engineers to “move fast and break things.” Think about how you can infuse culture from the word “go” and make it part of your success story.

Here are eight steps for creating a winning corporate culture:

1. Learn from the past.

We all have experiences from which we can draw valuable lessons. If you’re a first-time founder, examine the corporate cultures of organizations you worked for previously. What worked for you in those cultures? What didn’t? Similarly, if you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, think about the cultures you already created. What cultivated success?

2. Create a culture that aligns with your core values.

This is your business. You’re driving it, and you need to infuse who you are into what you do. Otherwise, it won’t work. Think about your personality and, more importantly, your core values. Are you ingeniously innovative or unwittingly creative? Do you foster a work hard, play hard mentality? Are you relaxed but also expect the best from people? If so, create that balance of work and play. Are you a true collaborator? Then advance that behavior in your company and promote the people who get it. Do you expect the Disney level of customer service from every one at every level? Then hire people who display that spark, smile, and personality.

Take time to reflect on who you are, the vibe you want to radiate, and, ultimately, the kind of culture that fits both you and your brand.

3. Find great people who complement you.

For example, if you are an amazing innovator but fall short when it comes to running the numbers, bring in a savvy financial officer. If you are a risk taker, hire someone who is more conservative. Diverse perspectives grounded in a shared vision are worth their weight in gold. Again, just be sure not to sacrifice your core values.

4. Communicate.

One of Zappos’s 10 core values is, “Build open and honest relationships with communication.” Founder Tony Hsieh exemplified this value when he announced Amazon’s $850 million acquisition of Zappos in an open letter to employees in 2009. The company continues to thrive, as does its coveted culture.

So when developing culture, talk with each other. This might sound trite, but it’s easier said than done. People need to be able to share their ideas and speak openly without fear of repercussion. People want their opinions heard, and they want to feel good.

5. Have fun.

It’s simple: a little fun goes a long way. Granted this looks different for every business. A tech company can get away with more fun than perhaps a law firm or hospital. But there are ways to engage employees in activities that feel less like work. For example, declare half-day Fridays during the summer, take your team indoor rock climbing, go to a wine tasting after work hours or hold a contest. Just do something out of context and give people the freedom to relax, show up in a different way and have fun.

6. Invite people to drink the Kool-Aid.

When JetBlue hires new crewmembers, the company invites them and their spouses to JetBlue University for orientation in Orlando. They introduce guests to top leadership, show brand videos, share stories, fly simulators and wine and dine them. In other words, they invite them to drink the “blue juice.” And it works. JetBlue’s annual net profit rose from $58 million in 2009 to $168 million in 2013. As Henry Harteveldt, a senior analyst at Hudson Crossing, points out, “The airline succeeds because it places such great emphasis on internal communications and creating and sustaining a positive work environment.”

7. Work as a team.

8. Maintain and carefully evolve your culture.

Culture is not something you put in place and expect it to stay forever. It takes work. You need to nurture it. You also need to give it the freedom to evolve. If you cling too tightly to your culture, you risk smothering it. Protect it, yes, but understand that your culture will shrink and swell — and that’s okay so long as it maintains its core.

I learned this firsthand when I started a company centered on a remote, relaxed culture that relied heavily on technology to get everything done. It didn’t fit and led me to hire the wrong kind of people for the company I sought to build. I changed the culture, mapped everything back to it, and it worked. Success followed.

Also, evaluate people on your team against the backdrop of your culture. Effectively evolving your corporate culture sometimes requires making hard decisions to let go of people who don’t evolve with it.

As Zappos’s Hsieh says, “Chase the vision, not the money.” If you create a culture where people love coming to work and are moving in the same direction, you will land where you set your heights. Millions of startups pop up every year. Be among the successful minority who break out in large part because they hold steadfastly to building and sustaining a strong culture.

Written By

Monica Zent

Monica Zent is the founder and CEO of Foxwordy, a private social network for lawyers and founder of ZentLaw, an alternative law firm.

Every small/big organization has a vision, an idea that seeds its inception. This eventually branches out and gives a proper structure to an organization. It’s just like starting a family you always wanted to have. Some fail, and some happen to live with happiness and prosperity.

Company culture is the amalgamation of vision, values, work environment, and internal behavior. It is the personality of your company. It is responsible for-

  • How employees feel about the company.
  • The way it functions.
  • What message it gives to its customers.
  • Why it stands out.
  • How your company is perceived.
  • And its reputation.

Importance Of Having A Right Company Culture

If you do not have a strong company culture, you may fail irrespective of talent and sources. If you pay attention to successful companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, or Disney, the common thread you would find is its company culture.

These companies have started with a vision and a strong company culture. They know what their brands stand for. What message they want to spread to its customers. They take care of their employees and are provided with solid employee perks and benefits. They respect their employees’ decisions and work collaboratively with respect and trust.

In an interview, Apple’s ex-CEO, Steve Jobs said that Apple has a very collaborative company culture and does not have any committees. He reveals that they are organized like a start-up. They have assigned people individually for their different products and services. Teams work on their respective parts with enough trust and belief, and this is what they do well.

Apple has been following this organizational culture since its inception. This proves that Apple was very sure about its company culture and how it wants to function. They believe in collaborative teamwork, and all its employees are aligned with the company’s vision. They trust their product and are proud of it, which reflects in it. This sense of sight and culture made Apple the no.1 technology company in the world.

Here Are The 7 Ways To Build A Strong Company Culture

1. Start With The Foundation

When you start a company, you start it with your beliefs and experiences. You structure it the way you want. The looks, the vision for your company transcends from your individuality. It is significant to build a foundation with these core principles. This is when you realize, no matter where your company reaches, you would stick by the culture you envisioned and work towards it.

2. Right Hiring

Your company carries the trait of its employees and their understanding of corporate structure and behavior. So it’s imperative to diligently create a culture that goes well with its vision and values. This way, you would help your organization stand tall in the corporate crowd.

Hiring the right people who fit with your organization’s ideologies is an excellent tactic to follow. A wrong hire can completely change the game for you. Hire people who fit your culture—one who can keep the same vision and work towards it.

3. Vision

When you start building a company, you envision many prospects. The first thing you do is to create goals and work towards them. You create a plan, hire people and work hard to achieve those. Having the right vision is great when you want to start a strong company culture.

While doing that, you should also make sure to create realistic, achievable goals. You cannot mindlessly have unrealistic goals or make promises to your employees, which will never see daylight.

4. Turn Your Brand Into A Cause

What your brand stands for? What are the problems it addresses or solves? Or does it serve the customer or help them in any possible way? Questions like this may sound very moralistic, but it is vital for any organization. It gives a brand reputation and what they stand for.

Coca-Cola promises to refresh the mind, body, and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism, create value, and make a difference. This is what coca-cola stands for and strongly believes in spreading happiness.

Coca-Cola also promotes an inclusive work culture that is rich in diverse people, talent, and ideas.

5. Job Satisfaction

You cannot have a great company culture without your employees being happy and satisfied. Make sure your employees are satisfied with their jobs and enjoy working with you. Since a workplace has a diverse set of people, it is better to run an internal job satisfaction survey. A survey is effective in analyzing and improving the company culture and improving overall employee satisfaction.

When employees are happy and satisfied with the management and work culture, they put their best effort into making the company successful.

6. Take Care Of Your Employees

Your employees are the building block of your organization. Your company culture is shaped according to their traits and internal behavior. So it would help if you took care of your employees. Make sure your employees do not feel left out. Listen to them. Give them surprises on their birthdays or work anniversaries. Try to know them personally, be honest and transparent with them.

Support your employees and always help them in need. Actively listen to them, communicate more to understand their state of mind, and try to know about anything bothering them or diminishing their well-being.

When you care for your employees and help them grow, that’s when you build a team that can thrive and accomplish anything.

7. Retain Good People

Retaining good people is equally as crucial as hiring the right ones. You soon realize, the teams you build have potential and can help your company grow in the long run. They develop your company culture and are valuable. The flip side is that it’s tough to retain these people.

Do what it takes to retain them. Please provide them with the best employee retention program you can. More than that, make them realize it’s their company too, and its sustainability and growth have a lot to do with them.

Wrapping It Up

Do you have a strong company culture? Or do you want to improve your culture according to your company’s ideologies?

If yes! Then this is how you can build a great company culture. All you need is perseverance and belief in your vision, and determination to adapt to any unwelcoming change.

How to build a strong company culture

“Company culture” is a big buzzword these days. But, whether or not you embrace the jargon, it’s important to realize that your company — and every company — already has a culture.

Company culture comprises things like how people deal with problems, how open you are to innovation, and how managers interact with employees. When these things are aligned with your company’s vision, your company culture is strong.

This has many benefits:

  • You’ll create more connection with your customers.
  • You’ll attract — and retain — better talent who are more in line with your vision.
  • You’ll have a clearer path forward as a company.

The Alternative Board (TAB) recently surveyed business owners to learn what makes a strong company culture and to understand the challenges they face. You can read the results of the survey here.

How to build a strong company culture

One of the most interesting findings was that the longer an owner has been in business, the more likely they are to believe that the burden of creating a strong culture falls on their shoulders. In fact, over 47% of those who have been in business for over 20 years hold this belief.

So what can you as a business owner do to create a strong company culture?

The answer to that question lies in the survey results, as well. Respondents identified five areas: demonstrate strong leadership, build personal connections between customers and employees, create greater transparency, increase profitability, and improve the work environment.

How to build a strong company culture

Demonstrate strong leadership

As I mentioned, a large number of business owners believe that the responsibility for creating a strong company culture rests on his or her shoulders. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that the top thing they believed would help improve a company’s culture was to demonstrate strong leadership.

If you want a strong company culture, all the employee handbooks and memos in the world won’t override weak leadership. It’s a clear case where actions definitely speak louder than words.

Good management leads by providing an unwavering example for the rest of your employees. Strong, dedicated leaders can turn a company around. Ineffective and apathetic leaders, on the other hand, will only set the company free from its moorings.

How to build a strong company culture

Build a personal connection between customers and employees

The second most popular way for leaders to build a strong company culture is to improve the personal connections between customers and employees.

Keeping the customer or end-user in the forefront helps build a strong company culture because it keeps the mission clear. When employees can clearly see the effect of their job on the customer, they have greater buy-in to the culture of your company.

Creating those bonds is not always easy. Frontline employees who have daily contact with the customer already have this bond, but other employees who are in less visibly customer-oriented positions can lose sight of the customer if they’re not careful.

While it may not be possible or practical to have all of your employees spend a day working directly with customers, circulating customer success stories or case studies to your team is a good surrogate.

How to build a strong company culture

Create greater transparency

Trust is a critical component for strong company culture, and transparency throughout management is one of the best ways to build trust.

Be transparent about:

  • goals
  • vision
  • anticipated results
  • expectations
  • periods of change
  • setbacks

Transparency doesn’t have to mean over-sharing — but if you’re more transparent than not, you will earn your employees’ trust in situations where you’re not able to share every detail.

How to build a strong company culture

Improving morale

The last two ideas both received smaller percentages of votes by respondents, and they can both be distilled down to the concept of “improving morale.”

Increase profitability: When a company’s fortunes are on the rise, employees are more likely to feel positive. It also can create a sense of openness and experimentation that helps build a strong culture.

Upgrade work environment: Investing the surroundings of your employer is another way to raise morale and create a stronger sense of community.

Take a look at the rest of the survey questions. How would you have responded? Do you feel like your company culture is strong, or could you make improvements?

Read the rest of the survey results here: What Makes a Culture Strong?

Jodie Shaw is the Chief Marketing Officer for The Alternative Board (TAB), a global company providing small to medium sized business leaders help, advice and focus through business advisory boards and coaching.

How to build a strong company culture

Pairing the right culture with your brand identity is one of the most important decisions an entrepreneur can make. Your company culture determines how decisions are made all the way from the executive suite down to ground-level employees.

Yet entrepreneurs launching a new business have a lot on their plates, and it’s understandable to feel like they can’t get to everything. The development of a strong company culture is one element that deserves attention early on but is often neglected. Stanford University professors Huggy Rao and John Lilly explain that entrepreneurs cannot afford to neglect culture when pursuing a new venture, as it will inform their organizations’ day-to-day operations for years to come.

The pair sat down to discuss the value of organizational culture and how founders can build a strong culture from the beginning. Drawing from their extensive experience working with Silicon Valley startups and other tech companies, Professors Rao and Lilly share their insights.

Here are a few highlights from the webinar:

Establish a clear mission

The first step to building a company culture is to identify your organization’s core mission. What are your broader goals beyond simply turning a profit? Professor Lilly uses his experience working with Mozilla to launch the Firefox web browser as an example. Mozilla’s mission was never to create the most popular or widely used browser on the market — instead, company leaders wanted to ensure everyone had access to the internet and that it wasn’t controlled by a small group of large conglomerates. That overarching mission informed other aspects of Mozilla’s culture, helping define and support its most important values.

Positivity vs. negativity: What’s better for company culture?

Once your company has developed its core values, do you champion them with positive reinforcement or behave more reactively, focusing on steering employees away from actions and mindsets that don’t reflect your organization? Professors Rao and Lilly discuss the merits of both a positive and negative approach to instilling culture. They note that it may seem easier to take a problem-solving method to cultural issues, but in the long run, reinforcing good behavior is likely more effective.

The concern with a negative approach — i.e., calling out employees when they do something that doesn’t align with the company culture — is that it can lead to overcorrection. Embracing a more supportive mindset and giving a shout out to staff members who reflect your values can do more to strengthen your culture. The one caveat is that it can take more instances of reinforcement for people to really absorb those messages, so it’s important that founders heap on the praise when it’s warranted.

Building diversity in your organization

For companies and organizations seeking to champion diversity and acceptance, it’s important to incorporate these qualities into their brand identity. But how do you do that effectively and sincerely?

The duo argue that it’s not enough to just roll out diversity programs — you need to be able to say why diversity is important to your organization. If it’s a cynical play for good press, then the public will see right through that. On the other hand, if organizations recognize it’s the right thing to do and understand that a more inclusive culture will help them deliver better services and support to diverse audiences, then they can get started on the right foot.

Decide the right company culture for your business

Matching culture to brand identity is critical. Even within Silicon Valley, there are many examples of successful companies with organizational cultures quite different from one another. The one thing they all share in common is those values — as different as they may be — fit them like a glove.

For instance, Google has a very collegial culture, providing employees with a lot of leeway to make their own decisions based upon the information that is available. Apple employees, in comparison, are on a much shorter leash. Professors Rao and Lilly explain that in each case, the organizational culture has been directly influenced by their founders. What you believe in and what you care about most will inevitably bleed into your organization. With a little awareness and preparation, you can strategically create a company culture that aligns your founders’ beliefs with a winning business strategy.

Be sure to check out the full webinar to learn more. Professors Rao and Lilly bring so much hands-on experience to the discussion, it’s well worth the watch to learn from them. If you’re interested in more interactive instruction, Professor Rao currently teaches the course “Building Company Culture” as part of the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate Program. It’s a great opportunity to learn directly from one of the leading authorities on entrepreneurship and innovation.

How to build a strong company culture

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time travelling than I have in the entire year previous. Even in the face of ongoing challenges, it does truly feel like we’re approaching “business as usual,” or at least as close as we’ve been to it in a while.

For me, reengaging face to face with customers and colleagues throughout the glass space has served as an important reminder of how critical personal communication, interaction and camaraderie are to our industry. It’s also been encouraging how many folks I’ve talked with are relishing the opportunity to get together and collaborate in person. Importantly, these things come at a time when supply chain challenges and labor retention issues are coming to a head—collaboration and relationship building across the value chain are essential to our collective ability to succeed amidst these shared hurdles.

It all got me thinking about the role that organizational culture plays in a company’s ability to remain resilient during times of change and challenges. Certainly, it’s played a role in how our businesses have weathered the pandemic, and will continue to do so as we shift into a new phase.

So how should we be thinking about culture? And what are some tools we can deploy to bolster organizational commitments to our employees? Here are two ideas to consider.

Show employees how their work is a part of something bigger.

Gallup, one of the leading consultants on company culture, said in a recent article that “finding an employee’s personal connection to the work” is one of the biggest difficulties organizational leadership faces when seeking to enhance workplace culture. “Organizational purpose becomes personal when the employee recognizes that their unique contribution furthers [an organizational] goal. In other words, purpose becomes personal when a person is doing what they do best to further what they care most about.”

These are words worth thinking about. In my personal estimation, there are a lot of reasons why I believe the work our industry is responsible for is tremendously important, and why I take it personally. We know that buildings use up about 40 percent of all energy produced in the U.S.—making them a prime opportunity for society to reduce its collective energy consumption and curb emissions. High-performance glass and glazing are an essential part of the equation, delivering outstanding thermal performance with the right technology while simultaneously contributing supplemental occupancy benefits like views, daylighting and more. Developing products that meet tomorrow’s demands is the result of thousands of people, from the shop floor to glazing contractors to the C-suite and everyone in between.

These beliefs are the result of years spent working with and learning from colleagues with similar mindsets. Throughout my career, I’ve had access to the tools and opportunities required to make an impact. The simple truth is that people want to feel that they’re contributing and making a difference, and that they’re a part of something bigger than their individual job function. The question to ask yourself, then, is whether your organization has established a clear purpose, and whether you have made the necessary efforts to connect your employees to it.

Connect job duties to the company’s purpose.

How can leaders make a connection between employees’ work and the company’s purpose? One of the most important ways is opening up opportunities for your employees to excel and do what they do best.

This is especially critical as we continue to struggle with recruitment and retention. Among the glazing community, Glass Magazine recently reported on how apprenticeship programs can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Getting paid to learn a trade skill can be a powerful incentive for new recruits, and it can be a way to demonstrate organizational commitment to their professional development. These kinds of programs can more closely connect your employees to the work, contributing to an enhanced experience and overall culture.

Training opportunities for current staff and new recruits can be similarly effective. Glass manufacturing floor workers, for instance, will be better able to perform their jobs effectively and successfully if we’re sure to provide them with the knowledge to do so. Some of your suppliers may be able to offer these sorts of training opportunities on critical parts of the manufacturing process, such as insulating glass unit assembly. Further, helping employees understand why certain job functions must be performed in a certain way can help better connect them to the work.

A successful culture is one where all employees have the opportunity and the tools necessary to be their best selves within their role. From there, organizational success is more likely to follow, no matter the challenges ahead.

How to build a strong company culture

Your company culture will have a big impact on all of your business operations, your staff morale, and your employee turnover. In fact, the company culture that you have can even affect your relationships with your customers. Building a strong company culture should be a top priority for any business, no matter the size of the scale or their operations.

Outline Your Companies Core Vision

The first step to building a strong company culture is to outline a clear vision for your organization. You will need to outline what the main goal for your company is, what you stand for, and what you value as an organization. Your core vision needs to be more than an aim for increasing profits, it needs to encompass your company’s values and long-term goals.

The overarching vision for your company will likely affect other practices and impact your company culture. Your company’s vision needs to be easily accessible so that everyone working for your organization can understand it and knows the purpose of their work.

Create a Set of Guidelines

The next step to creating a strong company culture is to create a clear set of guidelines. These guidelines should be influenced, in part, by the values that you hold as an organization. Specifically, the guidelines should outline how your company intends to uphold these values.

The guidelines you create should also act as a means by which you intended to safeguard your employees. You need to have guidelines for particular situations, as well as more general occurrences. Creating these guidelines and then sticking to them, is vital as it will show an employee what they should do if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe in your organization. You should make your guidelines easily accessible for any employee to reference when needed.

Work on Internal Communications

Company culture can be easily affected by your internal communications, specifically, the way that managers speak to staff. As Simpplr explains, your internal communications can have a large impact on employee engagement. Teaching your managers the company culture and the best communications practice will help to uphold your values in all internal interactions. If you do not teach your managerial staff how to communicate then you risk your company culture getting lost in a constantly confused tone of internal communications.

Care For Your Employees

The most effective way of creating a positive culture is to lead by example, which means, showing your employees that you care for and respect them. Creating a culture that values wellbeing, both physical and mental, will help to create a more caring culture, in which people are more likely to work as a team. In this type of culture, because everyone is not simply in it for themselves, you will likely experience an increased collaboration and innovation.

Creating a company culture will not happen overnight, it requires dedicated backing from authority. You need to outline a clear set of values and guidelines and teach your managers how to uphold the company values in all of their communications. Although it might take a bit of time, creating a strong company culture is sure to pay off in the long term.

How to build a strong company culture

Getting your company’s culture right is as important as nailing your business strategy.

A strong, positive company culture creates a great place to work with loyal and productive staff supporting your business growth.

On the flipside, a negative company culture can damage your employer reputation and leave you struggling to attract top talent.

Or – in worst-case scenarios – you could find yourself the subject of damaging news headlines.

Take Google, for example. The tech-giant was left red-faced a few years ago after an employee released a memo arguing women in tech were scarce because of biological differences.

As well as firing the employee, Google was quick to underline its commitment to diversity and inclusion. But the damage was done.

Uber also made headlines when a female engineer wrote about the rampant culture of sexual harassment and sexism.

Since then, CEO Travis Kalanick has been ousted and the company is facing a slew of legal cases.

Why is it important to build a strong company culture?

It’s clear that a toxic company culture can damage a company’s public image. It can also harm productivity and staff morale, this in turn limits long-term growth.

So, whether you employ a team of 50, or just a handful, building a strong company culture matters.

Without your staff, your business stops running. Put people first and your business is more likely to succeed.

How to build a great company culture

There are plenty ways to build a great company culture as your business grows.

Establish your culture be defining your values

Your values are the reasons why you do what you do. It’s what your business is built upon.

They steer the way your people behave, treat one another and go about their day-to-day work.

Your culture is a consequence of your values. So before you do anything else, you must establish your company values.

  • What is the business’ purpose?
  • What do I want the business to be known for?
  • Which characteristics do we value in our employees?

Communicate your values

Now you’ve nailed down your values, you must communicate them to your people. Only when this is done can they translate into company culture.

One way of doing this is to get your people together for an afternoon and communicate your values in an engaging and inspiring way. Invite them to participate – this way they’ll be more likely to engage with your vision and contribute towards building your new culture.

Going forward, ensure projects and initiatives are underpinned by these culture-relevant values. And be certain to communicate them at every employee onboarding.

Hire for cultural add

Hiring the right people is an important way of building a strong company culture.

Which makes hiring for culture fit seem like a great idea. You ask candidates what they value in a company and gauge if they align with your culture or not.

But this isn’t as good an idea as it sounds.

Hiring on the basis of cultural fit can quickly create a “me-too” environment where everyone thinks the same. It also limits employee diversity – and that’s proven to be bad news for company culture and business results.

Instead, hire for culture add. Ask what candidates can bring to your SME that will move your culture in the right direction.

How to build a strong company culture

How does your culture define success?

The way a business defines, measures and rewards success says a lot about its culture.

Agree how you will measure company and individual performance. Think also about the way your definition of success reinforces your culture.

Will you reward employees for hitting targets, or award them bonuses for passing certain levels of turnover? What about customer satisfaction or cost-reduction? Each type of measurement sends a message of its own and affects the way your culture develops.

Be transparent

Transparency helps improve trust and satisfaction for your employees. It’s also an important component of a strong culture.

Running a business is not always plain sailing, so don’t try and hide the low points. Instead, celebrate the highs and analyse the lows, consulting with staff about where things have gone wrong and what can be done to improve them in the future.

Be transparent about your successes too; be sure to share any upturns in revenue, exciting achievements and business-growth.

Do what you say you’re going to do

Building a strong company culture is about practicing what you preach. Company values are only worth something when you put them into practice.

If you say you’re a ‘people-first’ company, demonstrate this by investing in your people. Failing to deliver on your promises creates a distrustful and disloyal culture.

Live up to your promises and you’ll be rewarded with a strong culture and a happy, engaged and motivated team.

A lot can happen in six years! When we started out back in 2015 with five members in a small apartment building in Bangalore, we never imagined we’d come this far in such a short time.

From working hard to win our first client to expanding business in different continents, transforming our product into a global logistics SaaS, hosting our first international off-site, and navigating through a pandemic, we’ve seen a lot, learned a lot, and come a long way.

In my opinion, the culture of a company speaks volumes about its people, its foundation and its defining values. Especially when starting out, it is a hard task to find the right set of minds to build a tech-centered company. You not only need talented folks but also those people need to have the right culture.

We knew exactly the kind of culture we wanted to develop at Locus: one where everyone is passionate, everyone plays to their strengths, and everyone is an owner and a team player at the same time. Companies that are tech-focused and are seeking to build a solid culture can certainly get inspired by sports and inculcate values that can go a long way in defining their brands.

Passion-driven Culture

Just like the members of a sports team are passionate about their game, each member of our team is passionate about her work. It is one of the core virtues we seek when hiring. Some of the best minds in engineering and data science (PhDs, no less) work with us and they work on challenging tasks and create magic.

Healthy workplaces encourage team members to voice what they are passionate about and switch to or create new roles, if required. Team members feel far more motivated and stay inspired when they are given the flexibility to explore other roles with other teams. For example, we have people who first worked in customer-facing roles and then moved to growth and revenue generation teams.

Talent Wins Games, But Teamwork Wins Championships

Teamwork is of vital importance to winning on the playing field and in a business. I remember our early days with grueling, overnight on-ground pilots that not only required us to prepare and implement our solution, but also manage multiple stakeholders for a great customer experience.

In these crucial times, members from different organizations came together to ensure customer success. This ‘partnership’ approach led to a lot of smooth pilots, and great on-ground feedback. People in the organization have always recognized and embraced winning together as the North Star, and this is one of our greatest successes.

Ownership And Accountability Make a Strong Team

Take any world-class sports team, you’ll immediately notice that each team member has a certain responsibility and is expected to deliver their best for the team to ultimately succeed. They are given full support, without any restrictions. We believe in doing the same. All our folks take ownership of their work and are consciously accountable for their actions.

Moreover, I would encourage a liberal work environment with flexible work hours and leave policies, self-approved finance bills, etc., so that their team members feel valued, trusted and can deliver their best at work.

Communication Is the Glue That Holds a Team Together

The importance of clear and transparent communication cannot be overlooked, whether in handling a sports team or managing a corporate team. Especially when working remotely, and navigating through the COVID-19 crisis, we have emphasized communication like never before.

Regular work huddles, one-on-one meetings, wellness sessions, and fun banters have helped the team work efficiently, build a rapport with people even virtually, and kept us sane during these tough times.

Celebrate the Wins and Learn From Mistakes

Sports is all about constantly learning, hustling, practicing, and becoming better. Our team members have just one objective in mind: How do we win? All of us are aligned with the org goals and every person’s contribution is important for us to win in the long run. While we celebrate our big and small wins, we also own and learn from our mistakes.

Sometimes, we stumble on the way, but there’s no giving up. When one thing doesn’t work, we huddle and analyze, try a different perspective, sometimes devise entirely new solutions: but we always try again.

Whether it’s about leading a sports team or growing a business, culture plays a crucial role in shaping up a team’s attitudes and beliefs. Our core values of innovation, pride, commitment, integrity and ambition have been our guiding light in building our sports-inspired culture.

Remember, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime,” as said by Babe Ruth, American professional baseball legend.

Written By

Nishith Rastogi

Prior to starting Locus, Nishith Rastogi was with Amazon, building algorithms to counter credit card fraud and the science behind the AWS ML product.

He is also the co-founder of RideSafe, a women safety initiative that uses cutting edge algorithms to provide a safe commuting experience.

Nishith holds a graduate degree in Electronics and a Master's in Economics from BITS Pilani. In 2016, he was awarded the TIE Lumis Entrepreneurial Excellence award for Locus.