Yaniv Masjedi is chief marketing officer at Nextiva, a leading provider of cloud-based unified communication solutions, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. He manages the firm's marketing and branding efforts and initiates programs related to brand management, demand generation, advertising, marketing communications and thought leadership.

Your company's internal culture can make or break your business. A positive culture, a place where your employees want to come to work, can create feelings of goodwill across your organization, inspire innovation and pad your bottom line. On the other hand, a negative culture, a place where staffers dread going every day, can hurt your business.

At Nextiva, we provide business communications solutions and have been the recipient of "best places to work" awards from the Phoenix Business Journal (we are based in Scottsdale) and CareerBuilder for several years running. This sort of public recognition has helped us continue to hire top performers and grow at exponential levels, year over year.

Interested in making your company a better place to work? Take note of the following.

Institute Department Appreciation Days

Company-wide parties can be fun, but it can be even more effective to recognize individual departments by instituting appreciation days. Try dedicating a specific day to just your sales team or just your marketing team. Spend the entire day recognizing each member's achievements with awards and fun activities. One way to do this is by handing out personalized t-shirts, bags, pens and even shoes with your company's logo and the name of the employee being honored. Throughout the day, provide the department with food (or better yet, ask in advance about their favorite restaurants and pay for custom catering).

We've been doing department appreciation days for a few years and have found them wildly successful. We structure each as a surprise, so unassuming employees walk into work to find their office spaces taken over by decorations. A video is played recognizing each individual in the department, calling out positive qualities and achievements. Planning takes work but is worth it. We've found the effort to pay off in employee satisfaction and retention.

Gamify Your Sales Department

"Gamification" is a popular term in sales these days, and for a good reason. Gamifying the effectiveness of a team (i.e. real-time tracking of leads and sales wins) lends itself to friendly competition within a company and help in informing how individuals affect a company's bottom line. If you are looking for something low-tech, try tracking how each employee is doing on a white board in the break room (note: long-term gamification effectiveness can only be achieved with a prolonged commitment to tracking). Businesses looking for a more immediate way to track employee performance can employ one of the many automated gamification systems out there.

At Nextiva, we use Ambition and love it. The platform is like fantasy football for sales. Each employee receives a score (0-100) dependent on a variety of business key performance indicators such as the number of phone calls made, amount of customers signed up and clients emailed. The combination of these factors produces a digital score for each salesperson, letting them know where they stand relevant to their peers. We've witnessed this "scoring" to be far more powerful than just tracking revenue flow; it inspires employees to do better at every aspect of their jobs.

Recognize Birthdays and Anniversaries

Positive employee recognition of any kind is a good thing. Grab the low-hanging fruit--birthdays and anniversaries--and run with it as a way to increase satisfaction among your staffers.

For birthdays, consider hosting an informal birthday party on the first Friday of every month. Try ordering pizza for the company (or, if your business is large, focus on a single department) and invite staffers to mingle for an hour or so. If you'd prefer not to spend money, send out a monthly email that lists those celebrating a birthday.

For work anniversaries, gift something special to your employees based on their anniversary year. For example, a company t-shirt could work for their first anniversary and even an extra day off for subsequent years. Public acknowledgment is also important here, so make sure to call out anniversaries on your company's blog or newsletter.

Welcome New Hires With a Care Package

Most people are nervous during their first day on the job. Ease the pressure your new hires feel by gathering together the team for company-sponsored lunch on their first day. Another welcoming tactic is to pair up your new employee with someone who has been with the company a long time. Ask your veteran staffer to make himself or herself available for questions or concerns during the newbie's first three months on the job.

In addition, try putting a care package together that could include a company shirt, notebook and pens. These items aren't expensive and the gesture can help them feel like they made the right decision in accepting a job with your company.

Join the conversation. How do you make your company a great place to work?

Published on: Oct 14, 2015