To ensure team buy-in and peak productivity, employees should ideally feel connected to and represented by their organization's company culture. This is why employees should be actively involved in developing your corporate culture and even fostering their own company culture within it so as to create a stronger bond with the organization and its core values.
So how can leaders encourage employees to take a more active role in building company culture? These seven entrepreneurs offer several creative strategies below.
Show them their opinions matter.
Arguably the most important step when getting employees involved in building an organization's culture is showing that their opinions truly matter. If a business takes employee feedback and acts on it, it will help develop a stronger sense of company culture among them, thinks MonsterInsights co-founder Chris Christoff.
"Your staff will feel inspired that their voice was heard and had an impact on the business. As a result, teams will be more willing to communicate, share ideas and build a healthy culture," Christoff explains.
Lead by example without being pushy.
"You have to live the culture you are fostering. There is no way to sell something you do not truly believe in," Alphametic CEO Matthew Capala suggests, explaining that employees will naturally be attracted to a company where the leaders are really leading by example.
Also important, however, is not to force culture-building on employees, says Capala. Instead of pushing them to create a company culture, by leading by example, company leaders create the environment for interested employees to naturally emerge and take charge.
Start a blog or vlog.
A great way of building rapport and connection with employees within the bounds of your company culture is creating a blog or vlog and updating it regularly, according to Solomon Thimothy, president of OneIMS.
"Start a hashtag or share your thoughts on business and life. Your team will get a better feel of where you want to lead them if they can know you more," Thimothy explains. And as you get the hang of it, you can start making videos and other creative content to share with the team.
Let them reward each other.
"We use a reward program called Bonusly so that our employees can show their teammates love," says Optima Office, Inc founder and CEO Jennifer A. Barnes, talking about how effective it is for building a strong company culture to have employees recognize their hard work and reward each other.
"We give all employees 150 points a month that they can give to co-workers for doing a great job," Barnes explains. This is a great approach because it tends to bring out the best in people -- even more than company rewards. "It's important because it shifts the company culture from just trying to impress the boss, to working for the team," she adds.
Do weekly huddles.
Getting the whole team together regularly is a good way to keep everyone connected and up to date with important information or events, which greatly strengthens organizational culture. "We have a weekly huddle on chat. We introduce new team members, give shout-outs and share company news," says Peak Support CEO Jonathan Steiman.
Often, the huddle focuses on topics unrelated to work, such as, for instance, asking employees to share a story about someone they're grateful for, Steiman adds. "People share incredible personal stories that they wouldn't share in a big in-person meeting. And because it's on chat, everyone can respond and cheer them on."
Hold viewing parties.
Another great way of building a close-knit workforce connected to your culture is organizing special group events unrelated to work. To this end, Bell + Ivy began hosting weekly viewing parties for must-watch TV shows, according to co-founder and president Zach Binder.
"To our delight, our entire team is almost always in attendance, which has brought everyone close together. I noticed a difference in everyone's demeanor almost immediately," Binder explains.
Encourage relationships through games.
"Create a monthly games day, which is incentivized with real rewards (discounts at certain retailers, spa day, dinner vouchers etc)," FE International founder and managing director Thomas Smale recommends, underlining that these activities should be advertised across all online channels and by word of mouth.
"The games should be friendly and focused on getting to know each other," Smale explains. "Assign a person of contact in the team to organize and champion the games monthly."