The first time I heard the phrase “company culture” was when I was working out at a local gym. I had asked about having one of the trainers coming to my house and was told that it was not part of the company’s culture for trainers to go off site to serve a client. This intrigued me, so I looked up the official definition and found that…
Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.
This made me take pause with the culture of my online business, where all of those who assist me are independent contractors residing in four countries on two continents. Whereas we don’t have specific rules regarding interaction and behavior, I do have a company meeting twice a month to check in on everyone and their progress on the various projects we are involved in at the current time. And I have monthly calls with two others who assist me to discuss new ideas and projects that I wish to create and implement in the near future.
Obviously, it’s very different when you run a brick and mortar business and see your employees each day. Now that we are closer to the winter holidays, this may be an excellent time for you to think about creating a company culture and traditions that would be meaningful to all of you at your location. Here are some thoughts on how to get started right away:
- Time off during the holiday season. Perhaps you want to implement a program where people may take off two hours to do some shopping or other personal errands. Maybe employees could cover each other during this time, or a seasonal worker (family members are good candidates) could pick up the slack.
- Bonuses for exceptional work. If your business is typically slower or business during these last several weeks of the year, perhaps you would offer a bonus to those going “above and beyond” during this time. The holidays are hectic for everyone, so turn them into a positive and rewarding experience.
- Company party. A few years ago I was in the office of a friend who has an insurance agency and asked when their holiday party would be held. It turned out they hadn’t done that for years, and the employees missed it terribly. With the permission of the owner, and on short notice I arranged a special lunch at a local restaurant where all of the workers (there were six in all) could invite one guest and exchange holiday cards. This was a big hit and lots of fun, with minimal expense compared to typical holiday gatherings.
- Employee of the month. This one never gets old, and reminds me of when I gave three or four awards each month in my elementary school classroom. The idea is to single out someone for a specific trait or accomplishment, and to recognize everyone during a one year period. Certificates printed on parchment paper are quick and inexpensive, and the memory lasts a lifetime.
Finally, remember to say “thank you” and “I appreciate you” to the people who work for you. You may think they already feel appreciated, but hearing you say it out loud reinforces your company’s culture in a way that cannot be replicated. It will also trickle down and make your workplace one that people look forward to coming to and being a part of in a special way. And when it comes time to hire someone new, you can bet they will hear about the culture of your company before they finish their interview.
Improving your company culture will most like increase your bottom line and make for a happier overall experience every day. I’d love to hear how you are using this information to increase your own bottom line and to become a company that employees brag about to others in the community.
Connie Ragen Green is an online marketing strategist working with people on six continents to build a lucrative business on the internet. Get started right away at Online Entrepreneur Blueprint and you’ll be on your way to entrepreneurship.
Originally published at connieragengreen.com.