It is impossible to position your brand as avant-garde and unique if your employees and partners don't believe it is. In an era where competition and options abound, this single issue can sink you.
One of your key distinguishing factors is human capital--the combined worth of your employees' skills, knowledge, and experiences. It is a crucial asset within your organization, and should never be underestimated.
Company culture, which influences the strength of your human capital, is built by helping your employees have fun at work and experience things they wouldn't get to do at other companies. 'Star' employees (the ones that add huge value to your human capital) look for companies that create interesting and highly enjoyable experiences.
We learned this lesson the hard way, when a key employee transitioned out of the company. Since then, we've made it a point to establish some traditions that enhance our company culture, and our company has transformed as a result.
Here are a few things we do to keep things interesting:
1. Terrifying but Liberating: The 'Try-on' Party
Picture this: The champagne is popped, the music is on, and everyone's equal parts excited and terrified. We announce the styles, divide the staff in groups, and they come out wearing our luxury bikinis as we discuss the fit based on women's varying and beautiful body types. After a few claps, a few wows, and some giggles, they're not shy anymore. And no, our male employees do not attend!
The goal: As a luxury swimwear company, we should understand the challenges of purchasing a swimsuit without trying it on. That is why decided to start the staff Try-on Party, where our employees increase their deep knowledge of the products by trying on a group of styles and then discussing how they fit based on their body type.
2. Eccentric Holiday Shindigs
Every Christmas, my business partner and I host an inventive holiday party, where employees compete in a series of contests. This year, we pushed the boundaries of originality with a holiday song karaoke challenge, an ugly hand-crafted sweater contest, and a down-low dance contest. At the karaoke party, singing was mandatory. No lurking allowed! We have tons of pictures of the staff singing carols like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, We Wish you a Merry Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman in crazy sweaters.
By putting together a unique party full of events and laughs, we ventured outside of the normal holiday gathering and made lasting memories for the team.
3. Sharing our Meaningful Experiences
After our recent trip to Napa Valley, we shared two exclusive bottles of wine with our small team. By toasting to the new year with this special wine that we'd brought back, and showing them pictures of our trip, we conveyed our gratitude for 'holding down the fort' in our absence and being part of our inner circle. Even to the non-wine drinkers, it meant a lot.
If your internal company culture does not embody your brand, the uphill battle is steep and treacherous. The power of human capital becomes even more evident when you see the pitfalls of a negative company culture. Make a great culture a priority.