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9 Ways to Create a Positive Company Culture

January 12, 2015 by Marisa Smith
Found in: Business Mojo, The Whole Brain Group, Business Strategy

Create a Company Culture that Drives Your Staff to WorkDoes your staff spend the weekend looking forward to Monday morning? The Whole Brainiacs do! Sure, we love the weekend and we’re glad to have a couple days away from work. But it’s not unusual for our employees to go home Friday evening eager to get back into work Monday morning.

So how do you create a company culture that drives your people to work every morning? We don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things we’ve done to create a workplace that our team loves.

9 Great Ideas for Creating a Positive Company Culture

1) Envision the culture you want to create.

A great culture doesn’t just happen. You have to know what you want and you have to spread the word. That’s the single most important part of creating a great culture--casting a vision for your people to buy into. We created a detailed 5-page vision that covers every aspect of the culture we’re trying to create at The Whole Brain Group, including key elements, like:

Our Brand Promise:

To delight our clients with our service, care for and protect their interests, and deliver measurable results using our proven process.

Our Core Values:

  • Fanatical Service
  • Perfectionist Quality
  • Collaborative Spirit
  • Efficient Delivery
  • Voracious Curiosity

We review this document every quarter and make sure the decisions we make support the culture we are trying to create.

2) Hire the right people.

This is the most difficult part of the equation to achieve and maintain. While technical aptitude is obviously important, we also work hard to hire people who share our core values. Mismatched core values lead to conflict and communication headaches, and typically can't be changed through training or coaching.

It's also important to put the right people in the right seats, and hire people who can help you get to the next level. As your business grows, your staffing needs change - so you should try to recruit and retain people who can adapt and evolve with the company. Several Whole Brain team members have been with the company for over 10 years, evolving their skill sets and leadership responsibilities as the company has grown.

3) Discourage too much work.

We don’t like our employees to consistently work more than 45 hours per week, and we protect their workload as much as possible. One way we do that is with the Teamwork project management app, which we use to track estimated time for each task. By tracking upcoming tasks and estimated time, we know if someone has too much on their plate and we do what we can to lighten their load. We also try to make sure everyone has time set aside for training and professional development to keep our skills and brains sharp.

Maintaining a balance between billable, productive time and "recharge" time can be difficult in a fast-paced work environment, so it's important to keep the issue top of mind and help employees say no when they are feeling overwhelmed. 

4) Don’t track paid time off.

Officially, our benefits package includes seven holidays and 15 PTO days. In reality, we don't really stick to this policy --and occasionally we even add a holiday (for example, if Christmas Eve falls on a Monday). As long as your work gets done and you’re not leaving anyone in the lurch, you can take the day off.

Knowing they don’t have to be miserly with their vacation days frees our employees to take a mental health day when they need it, and they don’t have to worry about whether to call in sick if they’re a bit under the weather. Having the freedom to be away from work makes being at work exponentially more enjoyable.

5) Work some fun into the mix.

Walk down our hallway and you’re likely to hear movie quotes thrown around, YouTube videos being shared and bad puns being punted. Once a month we stop work for Whole Brain Buzz, a wine and cheese party.

Whole Brain Buzz: Food and folks having fun

We love to laugh and it stimulates our right-brain thinking. Who knows? The infographic you downloaded from our site last week may have been indirectly inspired by a WKRP in Cincinnati video clip.  

6) Treat their families like they're family.

The Whole Brain Group was created to provide a place where staff can flourish personally and professionally. We don’t see a difference between personal life and work life--if things are hard at home, they’ll be hard at work too. So we make it easy for employees to leave in the middle of the day if there’s a sick kid or if a spouse needs help.

Life throws curveballs on its own schedule, and we’re willing to adjust as much as possible so staff can take care of problems with the attention that’s needed.

7) Open your books.

Every employee knows the financial health of the organization--good, bad and ugly--and we talk openly about it as a company every Monday morning.

Why on earth would we open our books to all our employees? Because it builds trust and accountability. Besides the fact that our staff better understand business decisions and needs of the company, it creates an honest and trusting environment. People love working for a company that’s willing to be open and honest with them.

8) Work where you want, when you want.

We operate entirely in the cloud, which means our staff can work anywhere there’s an internet connection. And because we realize life doesn’t pause during business hours, we give employees the freedom to work off-site whenever they need to, and to work alternative hours if necessary.

In fact, stop by on a Wednesday and our offices might feel a little deserted. That’s because Wednesdays are unofficial work-from-home days. It gives people an opportunity to get away from the distractions of the office, buckle down, and get caught up on projects without interruption.

Anyone can work where they want, when they want, as long as they’re not needed at the office and can be reached. We don’t have problems with the privilege being abused--partly because responsible, hard work is built into our culture (see #1), and partly because we hire the right people. 

9) Color your world.

A company’s physical space directly affects the staff and their work. Factors such as color, light and interior space have long been shown to impact productivity, mood and efficiency.

These criteria were key to selecting a new location for our recent move. The space offers a number of advantages, including private and open collaboration areas, plenty of natural light, and even a beautiful view of a long, tree-lined pond.

The interior space is a healthy mix of cohesive, purposeful design and Whole Brainiac self-expression. Team members were given their choice of accent wall colors based on our company identity but also personalize their office with art and other elements. This combination yields a richer character to our workspace while creating a comfortable, enjoyable environment.

A snapshot of life here at The Whole Brain Group