By Jared Weitz, founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.
Entrepreneurs often rave about the importance of company culture, and for good reason. Strong company culture can make your employees actually want to come to work and help your business stand out from the competition. However, as I found out at my company, creating strong company culture isn’t as easy as it’s made out to be.
You won’t reap the greatest benefits of company culture by simply offering unique perks or documenting a few core values. There’s a lot more effort involved on behalf of the business leader as well as your employees.
Here’s what business leaders can do right to establish strong company culture:
1. Remember, company culture must be immersive.
Think of your most memorable restaurant experience. Odds are, you’ve eaten high-quality food at plenty of places. But only some of them provided experiences you’ll never forget. What makes these experiences so memorable? It’s probably because you were fully immersed in the restaurant’s culture. Between the music, the decor, and the staff members’ personalities, you felt like you were in a different world. And boy, did it feel good. Mission accomplished!
Businesses with strong company culture employ a similar strategy in the workplace. They immerse their employees in another world that is built on the business’s core values. This world includes physical elements (office layout, wall art, food/beverages available, etc.) and nonphysical elements, such as management style and internal communication.
I personally observed a dramatic change in employee morale after I made sure that nearly every element of the day-to-day experience reflected our desired company culture. My employees seemed more comfortable at work and were adhering to our core values more openly. Thus, business leaders should think carefully before choosing their core values. Ask yourself: What can I do to outwardly exhibit this value through our company culture? You can’t expect employees to follow core values if they are not outwardly exhibited each day.
2. Take your customers into your world.
Once you’ve established the physical and nonphysical elements of your company culture, you can extend the cultural immersion onto potential customers. This includes your website, social media, marketing materials and our overall customer experience. Like the aforementioned restaurant scenario, your company culture should take your customers into another world. In my opinion, your customer experience and brand identity should be a reflection of your company culture. This makes the customer experience authentic and shows the power of core values.
There’s a common misconception that company culture is purely internal. While company culture does begin with your employees, I believe its ultimate goal is to be carried on to potential customers. At my company, integrity is one of our core values. When I started building my team, I made it clear that we would hold ourselves to a higher sense of honesty and morality. It wasn’t difficult for employees to treat potential customers with exceptional respect (and like human beings) because this was already how they treated each other at work.
3. Focus on immersion, not originality.
It’s only natural to strive for originality when developing core values. Business leaders want their companies to stand out. But I’ve found that it’s not the values themselves that make company culture strong. It’s the strength in which the values are conveyed. Integrity doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary, right? But I believe no one in our industry conveys this value more powerfully than us.
Instead of originality, business leaders should focus on the immersive capacity of their company culture. The more immersive your company culture is, the more immersive your customer experience will be. Other companies might share some of your core values, but you can still stand out by conveying them in your own uniquely powerful way.
Company culture must be as immersive as possible in order to have a real effect on your success. Employees will feel like they are entering another world at work, as will customers when they interact with your business. It’s just like visiting another country: Once you are immersed in a new, exciting culture, you don’t want to leave.
Jared Weitz is founder & CEO of United Capital Source Inc.