How to Build an Authentic Company Culture

Company culture is the combination of the shared values and behavior of the people working for the company. Some company cultures are intentionally built and others have developed on their own. The latter is especially the case in start-ups where the culture is often very closely attached to the character of the founder(s).

Cultural fit is a crucial building block in employee happiness and the lack of cultural fit can be harmful to both, the employee and the company. If an employee doesn’t share the same values as the company they work for or they don’t feel comfortable with the way people behave in the organization, they will no doubt be miserable. Not even good pay or other perks of the job can make up for a bad cultural fit. From the company’s point of view, this can lead to a loss in productivity, higher turnover, and other issues that will cost money to your organization.

To be able to avoid these costs and hire and retain talent that fits in your culture, you need to build an authentic culture that attracts the right people. Whether you are building a culture from scratch or look to define an organically developed culture better, keep reading! We will walk you through the main steps to build an awesome, authentic company culture.

1) Define Your Core Values, Mission, and Vision

Your company culture is embodied in your core values, your mission, and your vision. To make your culture more tangible, you need to clearly define what your core values, mission, and vision are.

Core values are the key beliefs and principles of your organization. They reflect your organization’s identity and guide the behavior of your employees. Organizations typically have four to six core values that are named and explained. The explanation part is crucial to ensure that everyone inside and outside your organization understands what the value means. For example, integrity could mean being honest, following certain principles, or behaving in a consistent way, regardless of the situation.

Mission is the purpose of your company, the why your organization exists. It is usually presented as a mission or purpose statement that clearly explains your purpose to both, internal and external audiences. For example, in the case of The Happy Works, our purpose is to create happier workplaces.

Finally, your vision is the future direction or goal of your organization. Usually, the vision statement is heavily based on the upper management’s and/or founder(s)’s aspirations on the organization’s future.

When defining your core values, mission, and vision, you can, and as a matter of fact, you should involve your employees in the process. The involvement can vary from responding to surveys to being part of an internal culture team. By valuing your employees’ input and giving them a role in the process, you are more likely to define an authentic culture and you will have an easier time getting everyone on board in the communication and implementation phases.

2) Develop Your Code of Conduct

In addition to your core values, mission, and vision, you culture materializes through your code of conduct. Your code of conduct is a set of written guidelines that explains how your employees behave with each other, with your clients, and with other external stakeholders. It outlines the principles, values, and rules that help hold everyone in your company up to the same ethical standards. Just like with your core values, mission, and vision, you can set up an internal team to develop and document your code of conduct. Involving employees from different departments and functions helps you create a code of conduct that is based on reality and will be received more positively by your employees.

3) Communicate Your Culture

Once you have your core values, mission, vision, and code of conduct defined, get ready to share them with the world. The building blocks of your culture should be visible on various employee and candidate touchpoints at your office, on your internal communication platforms, on your website, on your social media feeds, and so on. You can get creative, too. Consider for example using the power of storytelling and creating short stories with video content and images to help current and future talent experience what your culture is all about.

4) Live Your Culture

Defined core values, mission, vision, and code of conduct will mean very little to your current and future talent if they are simply glued on your hallways and explained on your website. In addition to communicating your culture, it should shine through everything you do. Is collaboration part of your code of conduct? Then your office should have coworking areas instead of isolated cubicles! Do you value entrepreneurial spirit? Then encourage your employees to embrace their personal projects or provide them with opportunities to develop micro projects inside your company! Your company’s management has an important role in living the culture, too. If people don’t see their leaders follow the code of conduct, why would they follow it?

5) Hire and Engage Based on Your Culture

To make sure that you are attracting and retaining the right talent for your culture, integrate your culture in your hiring process and your employee engagement efforts. Create specific interview questions based on the values, study the candidates’ behavior, and involve the newcomer’s teammates in the hiring process. In terms of retaining talent, you can reward every month an employee who has reflected the culture especially well, let the employees endorse each other based on the values, and include cultural elements in the regular employee evaluations.

6) Monitor and Maintain

Finally, set up a plan to monitor your company culture. You can include this in your regular employee happiness questionnaire or set up a separate procedure to monitor your culture. You can also include cultural elements in the employee evaluations. The 360 evaluation is an efficient way to gain feedback from multiple sources and understand the cultural fit. The bottom line is to be able to detect and address any issues at the early stage.

Building an authentic company culture takes time and effort but it will help you to hire and keep the right people. In the future posts, we will be going into more detail about each step of building your original company culture so keep an eye out and follow The Happy Works on LinkedIn or sign up to receive email notifications of the freshest posts by clicking “follow” in the footer!

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

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