A great company culture comes down to one thing: people. You define your values and mission, but ultimately, it's up to your team to live by them. And that starts with having a cohesive team in the first place, one that's willing to trade ideas, praise, and even lunch recommendations.
Curious about the ways entrepreneurs help their employees connect--to the company's mission, but also to each other--we asked 16 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share the perks, products, and processes that have helped the most. Their best answers are below.
1. Intrapreneurship, Shark Tank-style.
It is crucial to create a culture that empowers everyone within the organization to be innovative and intrapreneurial. We hold a semi-annual event, very similar to Shark Tank, where employees come and pitch their ideas. Ideas range from new products to ways we can streamline or improve our current processes. This helps create a culture of collaborative, collective intelligence.--Dusty Wunderlich, Bristlecone Holdings
2. Public shout-outs.
At the end of every monthly team meeting, we put up a slide listing all of our company values. Then, team members have a chance to give shout-outs to each other based on those values and based on each person's work in the past month. It's a great way for everyone to publicly recognize each other--and it's free!--Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh
3. A culture calendar.
We recently introduced a culture calendar that is viewable by all team members. It includes activities ranging from team meetings to employee birthdays to fitness challenges. Team members are also able to suggest new activities in a shared document. Putting events down on a calendar, accessible to everyone across different office locations, leads to increased team communication and transparency.--Doreen Bloch, Poshly
4. Lunch lotto.
We instituted a monthly lunch lotto where we draw names for a group to go to lunch on the company's dime. This was started in efforts to build interdepartmental relationships between people who may not work together regularly, and break down silos that may exist between some departments. We encourage people to chat about personal and work life, and they typically take a longer lunch than usual.--Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt
5. A Champion-in-Residence.
Our company's biggest cultural win was the addition of three-time boxing world champion Paul Vaden, who is our Champion-in-Residence. Paul has had a big impact on our company culture. Employees meet with him regularly, and he attends major company meetings to offer inspiring guidance. He also adds to the level of fun in the office and hosts departmental boxing classes off site, too.--Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant
As the CEO of a mattress company, I always try to emphasize the benefits of adequate sleep to my customers and clients, as well as my team members. Napping is a huge part of our company culture here, and I have found that a well-placed nap will make my already-gritty employees even more hardworking, creative, and happy when they wake up.--Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
7. A supply of books.
We cover the cost of books for our team, so there's zero friction in the process for anyone who wants to learn something new. Because we seek out new markets and novel product ideas, we're constantly adding to our knowledge base and becoming experts in different fields. Catering to a culture built on learning and continuous self-education is the key to our successes.--Emerson Spartz, Spartz
8. An adventure reimbursement program.
We implemented an adventure reimbursement program to instill the concept of "work hard, play harder." We reimburse our employees to participate in an adventure or try new things on the company's dime. During meetings, we then talk about it. Some have taken swimming lessons, gone to a play, taken karate lessons, and the list goes on.--Tamara Nall, The Leading Niche
9. A group "campfire" session (no tech allowed).
We have a process called "campfire" every Monday and Wednesday morning with zero electronics. Our team meets at our creative room on the floor, cross-legged. We discuss project statuses, current challenges, brainstorm creative and development solutions, define workload action plans, and socialize. Our full team is deeply integrated into the company with an enthusiastic understanding of the global workload.--Dalip Jaggi, Devise Interactive
10. A Ping-Pong table.
Great companies have a passionate drive to beat competitors and help customers win. Embracing a healthy culture of competition is a great way to feed this fire. Our solution: Installing two Ping-Pong tables and running monthly tournaments with a variety of prizes. Let's just say that the competitive spirit is alive and well at VideoBlocks.--Joel Holland, VideoBlocks
11. An investment in employee learning.
We believe strongly that as consultants and advisers, we must push the thinking in our areas of specialty. We invest in developing our staff members as thought leaders because it not only helps strengthen our brand, it also provides opportunities for team members to shine. This strengthens our culture because it directly aligns with our values and strategy, and benefits employees.--Chris Cancialosi, gothamCulture
12. Better communication for remote workers.
We are a small company with a remote workforce. In order to strengthen our corporate culture, we needed a tool that allowed all of our employees to share ideas, work through problems, and socialize just like they would under the same roof. We've accomplished this with Slack, which has become our team's virtual office. It's the foundation on top of which we've developed our culture.--Maxwell Finn, Loot!
13. Frequent team lunches.
We encourage a team lunch every Friday afternoon outside of the office. This allows the employees to connect on a personal level outside of work, which helps them relate and connect with each other. You spend more time with the people you work with than your own family, so it is important to enjoy your time around them. -Jayna Cooke, EventUp
14. Dinners at teammates' homes.
At least once a month on a weekend, a teammate or co-founder will cook dinner for the team at their home. Teammates will bring their family, dogs, significant others, and friends. We're extremely family-oriented as a team and treat building our company as a team/family effort, not just as a job.--Nanxi Liu, Enplug
15. Team recognition and rewards.
I'm not lackadaisical about the culture I build, and I've found major success with software and apps that allow employees to give each other kudos for just about any job well done, then allowing the employee to pick from a variety of rewards THEY want (headphones, time off, casual dress days, cash, etc.). Because of programs like YouEarnedIt, I'm able to let my employees cultivate real culture.--Darius Mirshahzadeh, Endeavor America Loan Services
16. Team workouts.
Seeing each other sweat and compete together in an organized sport (like soccer or running) does wonders to build team cohesiveness. You view each other in a different light as well as learn about people's families. People learn to compete. It's something we will continue to expand on in the coming years.--Kofi Kankam, Admit.me