Google, Costco, Starbucks — these companies have dominated lists of “best places to work” for years. That’s because these companies place an emphasis on cultivating a positive corporate culture that benefits all workers, not just those at the top.
If you want your employees to wake up excited to get to work, it might be time to start paying attention to workplace trends that affect how they feel and how they perform their duties. The following lessons from successful corporate cultures can guide your efforts to create a valuable workplace environment of your own — and may be even catapult your business to the top of the “best places to work” charts.
Invest in Your Leaders
Your leaders are the role models for the rest of your workforce, so it is most critical that they represent your workplace culture appropriately. The easiest way to do this is to promote from within, like Costco is well known to do. The wholesale chain rarely fills openings with outside hires; it prefers to find dedicated and talented workers from lower levels to leverage their familiarity with the company and its culture to influence growth. By recognizing high performers within your business and using them to fill management vacancies, you can gain similar benefits.
Another solution is developing corporate culture through your leaders. You can invest in greater trainings and team-building for management, instilling in your current leaders the values you hope will guide your business. You can also choose to hire leaders with personal brands that match your desired workplace culture. As long as you are giving sufficient attention to your leaders in some form or another, you should end up with the corporate environment you envision.
Use Diverse Communication Strategies
When your startup is small, you get accustomed to communicating with your scant workforce in a certain way. If you only have one or two workers to deal with, you might just tell everyone face-to-face; if you have a few more employees on staff, you might send out a group email and call it good. However, simple ways to communicate start to fail when your business grows bigger. To maintain a stable corporate culture — one that employees understand and want to be part of — you need to diversify how you communicate.
Google works to unite its vast and diverse workforce with a bevy of communication strategies that promise openness. There are frequent all-hands meetings, where workers at all levels are encouraged to ask questions and push boundaries. The company also boasts more than 87,000 Groups, which are email lists organized around different topics. What’s important to note is that Google meets employees where they are, appealing to all communication and learning styles. Thus, no one is left out of the loop or in the dust.
Make Employee Wellness Your Top Priority
When an employee gets sick, they can’t work.This should seem straightforward, but within many organizations, leadership focuses so intently on performance that it forgets that health and wellness matter. Unfortunately, too many workplaces crack the proverbial whip, which results in lower morale and less attachment to company success — as well as untreated mental and physical disabilities.
Believe it or not, one of the best employers for PTO is flatpack furniture giant IKEA. Starting from their first day on the job, IKEA employees (full- or part-time) start earning vacation time, and that time can be used in one-hour increments instead of the per-day slices at most other corporations. Employees typically earn between three and 10 weeks of PTO every year, and they are encouraged to use all of it. You can institute a similar policy at your workplace, or you might opt for more standard PTO — but whatever you do, you must ensure that sick employees are properly cared for.
Ensure Trust Is a Defining Company Value
It doesn’t matter whether your company is traditionally professional, with mahogany wood paneling and a serif-font logo, or whether your startup is more playful and progressive, with bright colors and flexible schedules and workplaces. It doesn’t matter whether your office has a ping-pong table or whether you have a dress policy requiring business formal wear. Your corporate culture is defined less by how your business looks and more by the values upheld by you, your leaders and your workers.
Of those values, the most important by far is trust. Your employees trust you to treat them fairly and pay them well, and you trust them to deliver their best possible work every day. You should try to earn that trust with policies your workforce needs to thrive, and your employees will repay you with hard work and loyalty. Ultimately, what the “best places to work” have that your startup lacks is fundamental trust, and by establishing trust early on, you can and will make it on those lists.