How to Create a Great Company Culture
No matter what company you work for, it’s never too late to redefine certain elements of your corporate culture. There are 3 times as many programmer jobs as programmers, and with such a great demand, the cultural aspects of your work environment set you apart from competitors. Every applicant who walks through your doors should walk away with a positive, lasting impression. To do this, let your culture translate into every aspect of your business—from office organization to your meeting structure. Here are a few tips to get you started.
The Big Picture:
Get behind a greater goal.
Identify your company’s main objective and seek out candidates whose interests match. You’ll promote retention and guarantee that everyone on your team is “in it to win it”—not just until a shinier, newer job comes along. At Stack Exchange, our mission is to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers for your questions. If this idea doesn’t set a candidate’s heart a-flutter with excitement, then we know they won’t bend over backwards to help us get there.
Give colleagues something to bond over.
Find the right balance of worktime vs. playtime based on the personalities in your organization. It’s easier to work together professionally if you know each other personally. This can mean different things. In our office, we bond over how much we all love “Taco Day” for lunch. But we also bond over birthday cakes for our colleagues, our rising rank in the top U.S. websites, and company t-shirts that incorporate our unicorn mascot. We don’t have fun all the time, but we also don’t work without laughing.
Encourage your employees to learn.
If your team is always learning, they won’t get bored with their jobs. Offer training sessions, conferences, brown-bag lunches (internal tech talks where one employee teaches the others something cool), free books and periodicals. We also let our employees work outside of the box some of the time. Give them a slice of time to try something crazy, even if it’s only a one-week project that doesn’t work. Let programmers work on different languages just for fun and encourage a bit of experimentation to show you value their ideas and that you want to see them grow in their roles.
Be picky when recruiting.
Time is money, and you can’t afford to waste either. When scouting out potential candidates, avoid the undesirables who have been scouring mass job boards for months. Instead, look for the potential hires who have made themselves integral assets with their current teams. Rather than focus on active job seekers, look in non-obvious places to find passive candidates. Just make sure you clearly explain why they should leave their current role for a better opportunity with your team.
The Nitty Gritty:
Rethink your meeting structure.
If you’ve ever been booked in back-to-back meetings all day with little time to focus on your assignments, you might need to switch up the way you distribute information among the office. Though meetings can be a valuable tool for keeping everyone on the same page, too many can instead lead to unproductive “coasting” rather than active work time. Don’t let your employees turn their brains off. Keep meetings to a minimum while still keeping everyone engaged.
Get rid of one silly policy.
Do you have strict rules about what brand of supplies your employees are allowed to request? Not only are these rules antiquated, but they make employees think they need to ask permission for tools that will help them do their jobs better. It’s worth the extra $50 to buy your employees the type of supplies they want instead of enforcing a policy just for the sake of having one. So think twice about the rules in your handbook and eliminate any policies that seem outdated or not relevant for your current work environment.
Let night owls be night owls.
The 9-5 culture is drifting to the wayside as the global workforce becomes more and more digital. If employees have projects that aren’t contingent upon traditional business hours, don’t make them show up just for “face time.” Open your culture to accommodate different schedules—even if it’s only on an infrequent basis. You’ll find that productivity will shoot through the roof if you give your employees the option to work when and where they prefer. At the end of the day, flexibility also shows that your company is willing to evolve and adapt as situations change.
Offer “unlimited” sick days.
Face it: When the office cougher starts hacking away at your morning meeting, nobody wins. The sick employee spends the day not getting better while the rest of the office politely tries to avoid their cold-infected teammate. If you instead offer “unlimited” sick days, this shows your employees that you care and trust them to decide when they are sick and should stay home. You’ll keep the office healthier and boost respect on both sides.