The idea of a company culture may seem rather amorphous and vague, but the fact is that it is an important part of the success of any business, however big or small. If you consider Google, one of the most successful companies in the world in the last two decades, you will notice that they seem different to a lot of other companies. Their offices are famous for being fun, quirky places designed to enable their employees to relax when they need to, and therefore, work more productively when they need to. Google also has an ethos; from around 2004, their corporate motto was ‘Don’t be evil’. In 2015, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. released a statement saying that its ethos was that its employees should ‘do the right thing’. This may mark a change in the culture of the company. In any case, it seems less threatening but it is just as vague. The nature of evil is a matter of perspective, as is the right thing. In any case, these sorts of ideas that act as a standard against which the company measures itself are important because it bonds all of the employees together and gives them something towards which they can strive together. Besides, a lot of people who work at Google may well be proud of the company. They may want to go into work because they believe it is a force for good in the world. It is developing environmentally friendly, self-driving cars in its Waymo project, as well as developing Project Loon which aims to give 4.7 billion people access to the internet. One of the reasons that they have been such a success, and they continue to be, is because they are the best at what they do, but also because the people who work there care about their work. Developing the same sort of enthusiasm and commitment to corporate life does not need Google’s resources though. Here are a few ways that you can better develop your company culture:
Demonstrate that you care about your employees and they will care about the company. Google, for instance, offer generous benefits to their so-called Googlers including all inclusive health care packages as well as onsite gyms and free healthy food. They also match charitable donations, let you organize your own time as you like, and help you develop personally and professionally by paying for classes. This may not be possible for every business, but the idea still remains important. Treating your employees with kindness and understanding when they are ill, or granting a generous maternity leave package will make your employees want to repay your kindnesses. It will not work for everyone, and however generous you are, some people will continue to seek opportunities elsewhere, but for everyone else, it is a good start. Besides, happy employees are 12% more productive, which means that they will be more creative, collaborative and more effective. The small things are important too. Getting chairs that support your employees’ backs is a good idea, as is designing somewhere they can relax when they are not at their desks. The adage ‘it takes money to make money’ is still true.
However good the experience of working at your company is, there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from being known to work for a good company. Having certain jobs brings with it a degree of status (working for NASA, for instance, suggests genius). Being able to inspire these sorts of feelings in your employees is about developing a reputation with your customers. To do this, you need to be known to them. If a customer remembers your good service but does not remember who provided it, it is not of any use to you. That is why you need to make a logo and investigate what sort of name would best suit your company. The idea of spending time and money on market research or focus groups may seem expensive, but business, like nearly every aspect of life, is about psychology. If you do not appeal to your customers, they will not trust you and will not come back to you. However, these considerations are important because if you develop a corporate identity that people like, the people who work for you will be proud to represent it. They will have an intrinsic motivation to do their best and ensure the quality of your products or services. Abraham Maslow described these ideas in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. Self-actualization is crucial to people. Allowing them to achieve it in their work life is a great way to ensure that your company succeeds. Doing good things is a particular way in which you can do this. A survey conducted last year found that two-thirds of Millennials (that is 18 to 34-year-olds) are more likely to want to work for a company that gives to charity compared to one that doesn’t. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are rather predictably not as concerned. However, young people are the future.
Besides being good to the people who work for you, and giving them something they can support and be proud to be a part of, the most critical thing for having a healthy, progressive, and productive company is by clearly communicating. One of the important things about human psychology is the need to feel valued. This means being able to share your ideas in an atmosphere without prejudice or discrimination. Not every idea will be workable, but the more ideas that are made available, the greater chance you’ll have of finding the next great ones. Corporate transparency is not always easy, especially when you need to worry about protecting yourself from other companies which may want to emulate your success, but if you are going to succeed, you need to include everyone and make them feel as if they have something to offer. The truth is that everybody does. A great company will acknowledge that the CEO is no more or less important than the people in entry level positions. The need to pay everyone fairly irrespective of factors like gender is an obvious necessity.