We’ve all heard about how important company culture is. From retention to revenue, there is no doubt that culture plays a huge role in a successful company. The question really isn’t, “Why should I invest in culture?” but rather, “How do I create an environment in which my team members love to work?”
So how do you begin to create a rock solid culture? Does good company culture equate to catered lunches and a few free beers on Fridays? Maybe. Maybe not.
At One Click, it took us years to get to where we are now. Recently named to Inc. Magazine’s 50 Places to Work in 2016, we’ve learned a lot (and I mean, A LOT) over the years. If you’re trying to improve your current work environment or are starting from scratch, here are some tips to help build a healthy company culture.
The first step to building a culture within a company is to determine who you are. You need to step back and look at why you’re doing what you do, and what makes you truly unique. For us, it’s that we are incredibly dedicated to our people, whether that be our customers, team members, or community.
Once you’ve done some self-evaluation, create values that define how you work. At One Click, we call these our core values, which make up the heart of our culture and guide our team members daily — every member of the One Click team is expected to live by and own these values. Setting clear standards not only aligns team members, but it also helps preserve your identity through growth and changes that you might face. We ensure team members remember them by being visual — our core values can be seen in the hallways and on the walls of our cafe!
Implement Aligned Programs
Once you’ve created a company identity, it’s time to start thinking about how to materialize those values. It’s not enough to say you’re a big thinker, or that you want team members to be honest. To get all team members on board, you have to prove that this is truly a trait that you value. One way to do this is through programs that align with your company's values, and that will encourage participation.
An example of how this is done at One Click is our two paid time off volunteer days. Each year, every team member is encouraged to take two days of PTO to volunteer and help the local community. This initiative directly aligns with our core value of “spread happiness beyond our four walls.”
The bottom line is that you need to walk the walk. You need to prove you are who you say you are. Such programs might take time and money, but if you really want to improve culture, build an identity, and get team members to buy in, programs that align with your mission statement are vital. Actions speak louder than words!
Hire the Right People
Even if you do everything else up to this point correctly, you will fail if you hire the wrong people. It may sound harsh, but if you have team members that do not align with your core values, a solid company culture will never come to fruition. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that you cannot force a team member to care about something that they truly do not, and to be successful you need everyone to be marching in the same direction.
Needless to say, when interviewing candidates, we place importance on “culture fit.” If you’ve worked this hard to build a culture, don’t chance it by hiring a person you know will not improve the workplace, even if that person is incredibly bright.
How do you know if your culture is succeeding? Are team members happy? Do they feel valued? These are important questions that, sadly, are difficult to monitor, especially if you’re not actively putting in the effort to get team member feedback.
If you’re serious about culture, I suggest investing in a feedback solution. At One Click, we use TINYpulse, an engagement platform that allows us to send weekly surveys to every team member. This allows us to monitor how team members are feeling, as well as answer any questions that might be awkward or uncomfortable to ask in person. All answers are anonymous, and we encourage each person in the company to participate.
Once you have feedback, make sure that you are acting on the feedback and constantly looking for ways to improve. Culture is a process, and unfortunately, you might not get it right the first time around. That’s okay! It’s all about listening, communicating, and making small steps to get your team aligned.
Building a strong culture is difficult. It takes time, effort, and money, but in the long run, it develops extremely loyal team members who love coming into work. And nothing is more rewarding than that.
Randy Stocklin co-founded One Click along with his wife Angie and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Randy is responsible for the overall leadership and strategic direction of One Click along with three eyewear brands; Felix + Iris, Readers.com, and Sunglass Warehouse. He has a strong technology background and over eleven years of experience in e-commerce. Prior to co-founding One Click, he held a variety of technology roles with Angie’s List, Aprimo Inc., Digital Insight (VIFI), and Indiana University.