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A few weeks ago, one of our industrious designers decided that a fish tank was just what the office needed. A few nods, mumbled assent to the general idea and everyone back to work. Then our diligent programmer said he knew a guy that knew a guy that maybe had a lead on a tank.  One of the partners was quicker and a tank was procured. Fast forward a week and the whole team was headed to the pet store to go fishing.

Craziness, you say? Why would the entire team be wrapped up in this fishing expedition? Two words: Company. Culture.

What about it?

Company culture is defined by the values of the company and is carried throughout everything that a company does. Good culture keeps workers engaged. Bad culture erodes employee confidence and creates a revolving door, sending newly trained employees back to the job market.

Companies are catching on to the reasons why you need a strong  company culture:  recruiting and training staff is time and energy consuming; and bad work culture will eventually cause a zombie apocalypse in your office. As in, your unengaged, zombie workers will turn on you and revolt. Worst case scenario, maybe, but do you want to take the risk?

Really good company culture is legendary (see Google, WestJet before they got all serious, Zappos) and most executives invest in strong culture because it’s good for the bottom line. The bottom line for those guys? Pretty good.

Pinpointing your Company’s Culture

Ask yourself what your company’s core values are. Start with a vision and mission statement about what you do and where you want to be in five years. Now think about what you need to get there. If your mission is to be the top widget manufacturer in all Siberia by using only the best materials and processes, then you need to employ the best widget makers that also believe in quality product.

Now you need to find out what company culture is necessary to attract these widget makers who are engaged with your values to have the highest quality product in your industry. You may have an idea what this culture looks like, but double check. This means asking your employees what they think and listening to what they have to say.

Now implement it….and go.

Tricky right? How do you put together a company culture that you believe will retain your best widget makers and bring more? Every company is different but it’s good to keep these points in mind:

1. Your employees are people with families, hobbies and interests outside of work. Help foster the human side of your employees by encouraging them to enjoy working and engage with other employees.

2. Happy workers are productive workers. Sure, it takes time away from work to have a toilet paper race down the hall but your workers will appreciate the time to laugh, chat and decompress.

3. Money is nice but sometimes it’s the other perks, events and rewards that really bring teams together and keeps employees smiling.

4. Know your team. If you can’t know them all personally, make sure your managers do. When a bad team member or situation is not addressed quickly and fairly, the delicate web of company culture is at risk.

So, back to the fish.

We’ve got a fish tank and some fish. How is that company culture, you may ask? Well, fish are cool. And relaxing. And fun. Well, not as fun as a puppy, but sometimes we do have to draw a line.

The planning to get a fish tank, the chat around what kind of fish we all like and the eventual trip to the pet store are part of the culture at Stealth. We enjoy chatting about non-work things to take us on mini-breaks and field trips are great for team building. We don’t work in a vacuum and it’s nice to be reminded that it’s not all work and no play.

The benefits? We’ve got a great team that are invested in the company’s success. We’re all willing to help each other out and support the company however we can. At the end of the day, it makes us all better at what we do.

What do you think about your company culture? What do you think of ours? Leave your comments below.


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