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December 12, 2018
Katie Crowley

Creating a lasting corporate culture

Corporate culture is the collective atmosphere of your company, from desk setups to employee outings.

Because of its wide reach, culture can be daunting to any startup, but can be successfully implemented if you take a systematic approach, influenced by your employees and your values. Here are our top tips to creating a lasting corporate culture:

Step One: Define

Many companies are under the false impression that culture is created organically—that from your employees themselves, a cohesive and sustainable corporate-wide culture can be born. But nothing in life is so simple. The first step to creating a strong corporate culture is to define exactly what you want from it, and how it will reflect the company.

Your culture should align with your company’s values. REI, the outdoor retailer, is a great example of a strong corporate culture that fits seamlessly within the brand’s values. At REI employees are rewarded with “Yay Days,” where they are given the day off to explore the outdoors. At any other company, that may not work, but at REI, where their values are: “respect, diversity, shared values, and a passion for the outdoors,” the outdoors as an incentive are a great motivator.

So, in order to accurately define your culture and what you want from it, you first must outline your corporate values—your employees, not just upper management, should inform this. What your team cares about, your company should care about. This can ensure you create a culture of value.

Step Two: Implement

Again, a complicated step has been simplified into a single word: implement. After you’ve decided on your corporate values, you should construct a culture that reflects them. To better illustrate this point we’ll use open communication as our example value.

All companies strive for open communication. There’s undeniable value in your employees being able to freely discuss issues with one another as well as management. It encourages an atmosphere of transparency, and efficiency. Don’t believe us? Check out our previous post on why communication is so important. In any case, it’s easy to say you want a culture of open communication, but significantly more difficult to enforce it.

So, here’s a simple rule of thumb:

  1. Define your values, in this case open communication.
  2. Use values to inform your physical space. Again, in this case, you have to consider the physical reflection of open communication. An open floor plan? An open door policy? Full-team brainstorming sessions?
  3. Use your values to define how your employees interact. This step is a little tougher, but again goes back to values. If open communication is important to your company, you need to teach that skill to your employees. That means creating scenarios in which they can practice. I.e. happy hours, team building activities, team outings.

The three-step process listed above is intended to help you ensure your values permeate every aspect of your company. Culture is an invisible force, but it can be crafted, easily measured, and sustained if you follow this guide.

Step three: Sustain

Like any major shift to your company, some aspects of your new culture may not work. To ensure you really are creating an effective environment, you need to be able to measure your results and fix any weak elements.

Often times we overlook simple solutions, but the best way to see if your culture is strong is by asking your employees. Send out monthly surveys, or do monthly meetings on what’s working and what’s not. A poor culture can be toxic, and hard on productivity and employee loyalty.

As your company grows, your culture will change, but if you implement a culture based on values your core should remain strong.  

What tips do you have for creating a strong corporate culture? Let us know by commenting below. As always, stay up to date on all Zestful news by following us here or on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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