Office culture is an interesting concept. It’s something that ALL organizations have, but something that only a percentage of organizations put thought into.
The thing about office culture, though, is this: If it’s not by design, it’s by default. One way or another, you’re going to have an office culture, so you might as well make it a good one (particularly since office culture directly impacts employee recruitment and retention).
The question here then becomes how do you create a strong office culture - one that will attract top talent and keep that talent around? Well, it’s a process for sure, but here are a few steps to help you get started:
1. Define what your culture is or will be
When it comes to building a strong office culture (whether it’s starting from scratch or building upon what you already have), definition is key. You need to clearly explain (in detail) what your culture is and/or will be. Start with your mission and values. What do you believe in and what are you trying to achieve? Then, determine what type of culture you want/need in order to live out those values and achieve that mission.
Tip: To really bring your culture to life (and have something your employees can reference), you may want to create an office culture deck - a document or presentation outlining what your culture is and how it’s lived out at your organization. For an example, check out MemberClicks’ culture deck here.
2. Lead by example (and hold others accountable)
Once you’ve defined what your culture is, you then have to live it (and get others to live it as well). But that all starts with you. If you’re the Executive Director, people are looking at you to determine what’s acceptable and what’s expected. If one of your cultural values is transparency, then you have to be transparent. Or, if one of your cultural values is honesty, then you have to be honest. You can’t expect others to do it if you don’t.
Now the second component here is that you have to hold people accountable. Let’s say you’ve shared your culture deck with others, but their behavior isn’t matching up. (You’re trying to create a positive work environment, and they’re bringing in negativity, for example.) If that’s the case, you need have a talk with your staff members. Re-emphasize the importance of culture and determine where the misunderstanding lies. Without accountability, there won’t be consistency.
3. Spend some time (and maybe money) on your organization’s culture
Like we said, cultures happen naturally, but good cultures don’t. That said, in order to build a strong culture at your organization, you’ll need to invest some time (and maybe a little money). For example, here at MemberClicks, one of our cultural values is “work hard, play hard.” To really bring that value to life, once every two weeks, we have lunch catered at the office. We work hard every day and every week, so every once in awhile, it’s nice to have some time to sit back and catch up with coworkers. It gives us something to look forward to and really brings the office together (creating an even stronger culture).
4. Commit to hiring good culture fits
This one’s a little more long-term, but over time, as you hire people, you’ll want to make sure they’re a good culture fit at your organization. Put together some questions that you’ll ask people during interviews (regardless of the position they’re applying for) that directly relate to your organization’s culture. For example, you may want to ask them what type of office environment they prefer. Or, give them a situational question. Provide them with a hypothetical situation (one that may actually happen in your office) and ask them how they’d respond. This will give you insight as to whether or not they’ll fit in and/or mesh well with others.
Remember, people make culture. So if you can get the right people in the door, your organization’s culture will thrive.
Again, having a strong organizational culture helps with employee recruitment and retention. If your culture is unique and a pleasure to be a part of, people will want to join and they’ll want to stay.
Now if you have a good culture and you’re still struggling to keep employees around, it might have something to do with your new hire onboarding process (or lack thereof). For tips on that, check out our free guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff, below!