Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the contributors are theirs.
If the ongoing “big quit” has taught us anything since hundreds of workers began fleeing en masse in early 2021, company culture matters most.
According to a FlexJobs survey, 25% of employees left their jobs in the six months to March 2022 due to a toxic workplace. These days, unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and managers have a distorted view of corporate culture – and when we define “culture”, we can say more precisely what it is based on and what it is not. .
Corporate culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that maintain social cohesion and contribute to ideation and growth. On the other hand, it is not based solely on material advantages like free coffee or background music in the office.
A positive work environment promotes work-life balance, gives individuals a sense of community, and encourages employees to perform at their best. This can not only prevent high turnover rates, but also boost productivity and foster innovation. All of these factors lead a startup to be more competitive.
Related: Company Culture Is Everything
How to Create a Winning Company Culture
Your actions as a founder directly impact your business as a whole, consciously or not. So even if you think your culture doesn’t deserve special attention, it’s an essential part of your business that you can’t ignore.
To better understand where your organization sits on the cultural spectrum, I’ve outlined a few ways to identify the good from the bad.
Positive characteristics of corporate culture
- Low turnover and opportunity for growth
- Transparent and responsive management
- Recognition of success and achievements
- Healthy work-life balance among employees
Negative traits of company culture
- High turnover and professional ceiling
- Lack of clarity and direction from management
- Failing to recognize and reward good work
- Employee alliances and gossip about others
And if you’re not sure where to start to build a positive company culture, here are some steps to consider.
1. Build the right team
For starters, a startup’s culture will ultimately be shaped by its founder and his vision.
As someone who has developed and continues to develop high-growth businesses in various fields, I have always favored hiring people who share the same values and beliefs. Finding the right cultural fit in a candidate during the hiring process is critically important. If your friends are a reflection of you, your business will be a reflection of the people you hire.
Building an inclusive community of like-minded people helps you build stronger social bonds within your organization, which translates to longer employment and a warmer atmosphere. As anyone who’s ever worked any job can attest, one of the best feelings is being able to call the people you work with, friends.
Related: 5 Must-Haves for Entrepreneurs and Their Startups to Succeed
2. Create incentives for success
Incentives determine human behavior in a very primitive and social sense. The right motivators, when established, can take your startup to great heights.
One of the most important outcomes for an employee in their role in a company is personal or professional growth. By prioritizing education, development, and rewarding workers with higher wages through self-improvement, companies can optimize their human capital.
Celebrating victories and acknowledging productive behavior will only lead to the same thing. As such, an easy way to predict the direction of your company as a founder is to identify the ceiling that employees may aspire to reach. Are you going to give them room to grow or have you set limits on their growth?
3. Set goals and expectations
Along with the need to implement proper incentives as a founder, it is a duty to set out expectations for success.
As a startup, your mission is to become an innovator in the field in which you operate. While lofty, this goal is what attracts top talent in the first place, and the best employees often rise to the occasion. By creating ambitious goals, founders will inspire their subordinates to achieve those goals.
Additionally, goal setting provides an outlet through which a team can align and offers a tool to hold others accountable when goals are not met. Naturally, the goals and expectations you set for your startup will be the basis for its success.
Related: How to Create a Company Culture That Retains Loyal Employees
4. Develop trust
When we think of toxic work environments, we often think of toxic leaders. For this reason, senior executives must embody and live by the core values they preach.
Building trust isn’t magic. It is quite easy to foster through positive action and reinforcement. Therefore, founders should always maintain open and transparent lines of communication. Responding to employee requests and encouraging meetings with informal dialogue have proven successful time and time again.
They don’t have to share every minute detail with their employees when it comes to their personal lives, but founders need to be genuine if they want to build trust among staff within an organization.
Related: 7 Trust Tips to Use in Your Business
5. Foster work-life balance
Finally, no startup can escape the fact that every employee has their own life outside of work. It is essential to allow a work-life balance through fair working hours and to limit all tasks to these hours.
Additionally, offering competitive salaries, paid time off, and health care benefits will strengthen your company as a founder and help you retain your most talented employees. Startups need to focus on the benefits that really matter, namely those that deliver lasting value and aren’t cheap or gimmicky.
In an early-stage startup, the main causes of failure are often internal factors like a bad corporate culture. By reforming your company culture, you can dramatically improve your employee retention, recruitment, and productivity.
In a world dominated by technology, the most successful companies prioritize talent over anything else.