What do Google, Salesforce and Ikea have in common? They're all among thetop 100 companies to work for. No boss like Lumbergh dropping by to ask if you got the memo -- again. No clock-watchers. They're places where employees feel valued and have a sense of ownership and pride.
Cultivating great workplace culture is one of the most important things you can do for your business: companies with "engaged" teams outperform non-engaged employees by 200%. One of the things I'm most proud of atO2E Brands is our culture: we have awesome, engaged people who are excited to come to work every day.
The thing about culture, though, is that it's always in flux. In my experience, it's not something you "set and forget." Regular checkups and plenty of preventative maintenance are key to keeping your culture healthy.
An Apple A Day...
Our huddle is the easiest way for me to check the pulse of the company. It's a seven-minute standing meeting at the start of each workday that gathers the entire team together for a debrief. We talk about numbers and goal-setting, but it's also a chance for me to assess something less tangible: the energy.
Face-to-face, I can tell if things are flat or if something's wrong. The minute I notice a weird vibe, we jump to address it immediately. To me, the little things are early warning signs of potentially larger issues. Huddle surfaces small issues before they become big ones, and gives us a chance to correct course.
Check for Flare Ups
Gauging culture doesn't always have to involve formal meetings; casual encounters can be a good way to identify if your team is thriving or failing, too.
I make a habit of working at different desks each day (like Indiegogo's Slava Rubin or Hubspot's Brian Halligan, who also like to float). Switching things up gives me a chance to connect with different departments regularly and in an informal way.
I'm also a firm believer in taking my team members out for one-on-one coffees. At one point we had a COO who thought my coffee dates were a waste of time. But when I stopped them, I saw an immediate drop in morale: people felt they weren't being seen and heard, and it hurt our company culture.
A more casual approach is effective because it bypasses bureaucracy and hierarchy. I can go right to the source and see for myself what's working and what isn't.
Get a Prescription
Studies show asking staff for feedbackleads to a more productive and loyal team. It's one reason why we send out an engagement survey, not just once, but twice a year. Everyone is asked to share feedback, from executives to the guys on the trucks. It's a great snapshot of the company's current state.
But only gather data if you plan to act on it. Asking staff to speak their minds then ignoring their suggestions is a surefire way to create cynicism in the workplace. Once you've gathered feedback, be sure to communicate the results and take initiative to implement change.
It's easy to talk about having a great culture, but the hardest part is maintaining it. Engaging with employees, whether it's on a regular or casual basis, and acting on their input is the only way to keep a culture strong and vibrant.