This article originally appeared on the High Alpha blog.
In today’s job market, having a killer company culture is undeniably important. At High Alpha and our portfolio companies, we’ve created an incredible environment where our employees love to come to work every day. One of the things I hear most often from our candidates is that they’ve seen and heard amazing things about our company culture, and that’s what led them to apply.
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all solution to what makes a culture great. You can’t copy and paste one good work culture to the next—each company is unique. What’s great for us might not work for you, but here are a few key things every company should consider when reflecting on their own company culture and how to improve it.
All the beer, snacks, and trendy swag in the world won’t be a bandaid for a bad culture. Company culture has to start with great employees. At High Alpha, we all have a real passion for what we’re working to accomplish. We all are bought in to common goals and take pride in seeing our work contribute to those goals being achieved. When your employees have a genuine passion for the mission of your company, it’s going to be a lot easier to keep them motivated and engaged. When hiring, look for candidates that are just as excited about your company’s mission and values as you are.
If you want your team to stay passionate, there’s got to be buy-in. Regular communication about what’s going on, what’s on the horizon, and what challenges you’re facing as an organization are very important. As an employee, it’s hard to really get behind anything you don’t have understanding of or context for. Trust your employees and give them the full picture. Remember: you’re all on the same team.
At the company level, there are many great ways to communicate with your team. They will vary depending on the situation or size of your business. It’s best to leverage a combination of channels when possible to make sure you’re reaching a wide audience. Regular newsletters, company all hands meetings, stand-ups, brown bag lunches, and employee success apps (like Structural) are all great tools to keep your team in the loop.
Communication plays an important part at the individual level as well. It’s important for each employee to get regular feedback on their work, understand the expectations of their manager and their company, and feel comfortable that they can ask questions. Great communication between employees and their direct supervisors is one of the best ways to ensure the messages and goals are trickling down from the top and that feedback is bubbling up as well.
Everyone loves for their hard work to be noticed, and everyone wants to feel appreciated. Whether through a formal recognition program or an informal shout-out, it’s important to celebrate the successes of your colleagues. In an environment where people can genuinely be happy for each other’s accomplishments, you’ll see people going out of their way to help each other reach goals.
Before your next company All Hands, have your senior leaders submit a few names of people on their team who have gone above and beyond in the last quarter. Then carve a little time out of your meeting agenda to recognize those people for their hard work in front of the entire group.
How a new employee perceives their first week on the job has a tremendous impact on their overall happiness and longevity at a company. It’s very important to roll out the red carpet from the moment you’ve got a signed offer letter. Communicate clearly about expectations for the first day so they know when and where to arrive, where to park, and what to bring with them. Conduct an orientation where you introduce them to the company and any need to know information so they’re not in the dark.
Hiring managers should make their new team member feel welcome by taking them to lunch or coffee on their first day. Adorn your new hire with company swag so they can proudly rep your brand. Consider assigning a buddy for their first week or two so they have someone really looking out for them every step of the way.
At High Alpha, we conduct a weekly new hire orientation that includes new employees from many of our portfolio companies. It’s a great opportunity for cross portfolio introductions. I talk to our new hires about High Alpha’s services and team and give them a quick elevator pitch on each of our studio companies. We also launch into the tech stack and cover tons of great information about our benefits and how to enroll.
Remember, your new employee took a leap of faith when choosing to leave their last employer to join you. Be sure you’re doing everything you can to keep them feeling good about that decision.
5) Work-Life Integration
I don’t like the term “Work-Life Balance.” To me, it implies that the two things are at odds with one another. In my experience, this isn’t the case at all. What I do for work is a big part of who I am and I love that. On the same note, who I am in my personal life comes with me to work. I like to take a “whole person” approach when I think about employee engagement. If our employees feel that their needs are being met in their personal lives- they’re more likely to bring their best selves to work- therefore giving their company their best work product.
By providing flexibility and support, and understanding that your employees are more than just a job title, you’re sure to have happier employees who won’t hesitate to put in extra hours on the job when needed. Offering flexible hours, unlimited PTO (if possible), and an understanding that personal lives don’t end where office hours begin, are key pieces to celebrating your employees as whole people.
Annual surveys or more frequent pulse checks, especially in larger organizations, are great ways to gauge how your team is feeling about the culture and to see what areas need more work.
Like all good relationships, employee success takes focus and effort. Consider these five aspects of company culture for your organization and you may find some great opportunities for growth and improvement leading to an overall more fulfilled and successful team.