6 Steps to Building a Great Business Culture

Six steps to Building a Great Business Culture

Quick riddle:

What do you get when you offer an unhappy workforce free cupcakes?

Answer: an unhappy workforce eating free cupcakes.

Sadly, cupcakes are not a business solution. This may fly in the face of today's trend of benefits gamification that's practically mowing organizations down with one-upmanship in the fun-stuff department: cupcakes, massages! surfing (for real).

All of that's well and good. But here's the thing: if you've got people issues, none of those things is going to fix whatever ails you. So if you've got a trend of unhappy employees, feel free to give them something shiny - like Massage Mondays - to perk them up. But if that's your only solution, again, you're just going to end up with unhappy employees enjoying massages.

Establishing Positive Business Culture is Not a Quick Fix

Real change involves a cultural shift that takes place over time. It's a commitment.

Six things to get you started:

Get Real 

There's a temptation in today's business world to try to emulate the companies that get all the press for being cool (see massages, above). But if "cool" isn't your brand, you're going to communicate disingenuousness rather than modern. Your people will see right through it.

Ask About You, the Employer

Employee experience surveys tell you a lot about what's going on in your workforce. Done right, they give people an opportunity to open up about some of the things that are going right in your workplace - and some of the things that aren't. Be prepared for some tough love.

Ask About Them, the Employee

This might seem the same as the above, but it's not. Employee experience surveys tell you about you, the employer. Employee well-being surveys tell you about them, your people. That tells you things like how the benefits you have are working, and which ones you might need. A youngish tech company might be surprised to find that their Millennials are now having children and are stressed about how much time it's taking them to get from the child care center to the office. Maybe your people are stressed by a quiet revolution requiring them to answer emails at all hours. You won't know any of that if you're only asking if they like their health plan.

Create a Values Statement

This may strike some people as hokey, but it isn't. A values statement creates the perfect-world script for how you want your people to interact in and out of the company. In our company, it's our HEART principles. Of course, it's not a perfect world. But you'd be surprised how you can create change by giving people explicit guidelines about expectations.

Follow it

This is the hard part about the above values statement - you have to use it. Really. And usage starts at the top. Otherwise, the whole thing is just words on a piece of paper that people sneer at.

Create a Road Map for Assistance

How easy is it for people to find help if they need it? Is there a protocol for where people should go for what, or do they need to go on a scavenger hunt to figure out something as simple as their vacation balance?  Investigate your portal personally to make sure it's doing the job. You'd be surprised at the toll that can be exacted when employees with a problem feel they're adrift all alone at sea.

The Icing on the Cake

All of the above will help you get a handle on what kind of company you are. But to really make change, you'll have to ask the more important question, "What kind of company do we want to be?" With answers to both of those questions in hand, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Then go ahead and throw in some cupcakes. Your people will happily eat them. It'll be just icing on the cake.

Today's top companies are using positive business culture to set themselves up as a Dream Company. Get the new study with the data on what makes a Dream Company and why it matters. 

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.