What makes employees happy? Is it a six-figure salary and a great company match on their retirement plan? Sure, those things can help, but for employees who get sideways glances from co-workers every time they leave before 6 p.m., report to a boss who constantly breathes down their neck, or feel stymied by having to wear a full suit every single day, not even a big paycheck will keep them at that job—at least not for long. Employees today are keenly aware that 30 percent of their lives are spent working, and no one wants that time to be miserable. If companies don’t make significant investments in their workplace culture, they can expect to face a serious retention crisis.
That’s why it’s so important to closely examine your company culture. Can you define it, and if so, can your employees? Are there specific culture goals for which you are striving? Dedicating resources—be it time or money—to company culture is no longer a luxury. It’s critical to ensuring that you have a solid workforce dedicated to making the company successful. Here are a number of ways to strengthen your company’s work culture, increasing your employees’ happiness and, thereby, your overall success.
Provide Opportunities for Continued Learning
There is a common misconception that if you invest in the professional development of your employees, you are simply training them for a better job outside your organization. To put it bluntly, this line of thinking is bananas. According to Dale Carnegie Training Center, 40 percent of employees who receive poor training and limited opportunities for development will leave their job within five years. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Job seekers from entry-level to executive are more concerned with opportunities for learning and development than any other aspect of a prospective job.” Don’t have the resources to send your employees to conferences all over the country? That’s OK. Most employees are looking for on-the-job training, mentoring, and the opportunity to develop their skills by working on new projects.
Create a Flexible Work Environment to Attract Highly Motivated Employees
It may be a challenge for some employers to take a step back from their micromanaging ways, but focusing on employee results, as opposed to their work style, may help you get the most productivity from the happiest employees. People of all ages, careers, and life stages consider flexible work options a priority.
A study from FlexJobs reported that when employees were asked why they wanted flexible work options, 74 percent said work-life balance. Employees also mentioned time savings, reduced commute stress, and cost savings as significant factors that made flexible work options a priority. In an environment where all employees are held accountable for their own success, highly motivated employees will thrive, and isn’t that whom you want on your team anyway?
Find Opportunities to Make Work Fun
Think a fun and highly efficient workplace sounds like an oxymoron? Think again. According to Fast Company, prioritizing fun in the workplace is essential to your company’s success. “Make it a habit to evaluate morale in your workplace; if it’s suffering, a break for fun can lift spirits and boost success. Give your team a chance to enjoy themselves; it’ll undoubtedly create a friendlier, happier, and all-around healthier environment for everyone.”
You don’t have to splurge on elaborate parties, retreats, or gifts to make the work environment more fun. Small breaks and team-building activities can do wonders to help your employees work more collaboratively. They can also help reduce burnout and increase creativity. Some simple suggestions include:
- Splurge on tickets to the opening of a big summer blockbuster. Give your employees a half day, or just take three hours out of the middle of the day to enjoy the movie, and some time away from the office together.
- Plan an hour a month for some pizza and board games. Everyone loves free food, and the opportunity to get silly together during a game of charades or show off their linguistic prowess during Scrabble can help your employees get along better, while providing a necessary break from stress.
- Bring in an expert for a class that is totally foreign to your employees. Maybe it’s improvisational comedy, belly dancing, or guided meditation, but look for something that will help all your employees build a new skill together.
Companies That Are Leading the Way to Great Company Culture
From rooftop meetings and free meals at Twitter to full health insurance coverage, relaxation spaces, and guest lecturers at SquareSpace, companies are going above and beyond to make employees feel valued and truly invested in their mission. Some additional examples include:
- Netflix bases their culture on the premise that employees should be trusted to be personally responsible for their success. Netflix provides no restrictions on the amount of vacation time that an employee can take. Employees can also expense items as needed without approval, as long as they are acting in the best interest of the company. Additionally, accomplishments are valued over effort. If you are working long hours but only producing mediocre work, you probably won’t stick around Netflix long. In contrast, employees who work reasonable hours but produce outstanding work can expect to rise high in the company.
- PwC is working to retain women who leave for maternity with an “umbilical cord” of up to seven years. This would allow women on maternity leave to be employed by the company without actively working and without pay. Additionally, PwC’s Chief People Officer Jagjit Singh shared, “Though this is in the pipeline, we intend to offer all the training and updates to the women who go on maternity leave so that they are connected with our firm.” More women and mother-friendly policies are coming from the other Big 5 consulting firms. Just recently, Deloitte announced that they will now provide their female employees with 26 weeks of maternity leave.
- At Zappos, cultural fit is 50 percent of the interview process. Additionally, new employees are offered $2,000 to quit after the first week of training if they don’t think the job is a good fit for them. They also dedicate significant resources to team building and the promotion of company culture.
You will never regret investing in your workplace culture; the goodwill that you create will inevitably spill over into your company’s overall success. Create and prioritize a culture in which your employees are happier and more motivated, and they’ll pass that energy and appreciation along to customers.