A quick Google search reveals the importance of corporate culture in boosting employee engagement, retention, performance, morale and satisfaction. So it is no wonder that many C-level executives are seeking tactics to foster employee satisfaction and productivity, as well as innovative ways to offer popular employee perks.
“Corporate culture” is a catchall phrase that can be quite vague in terms of its definition. So many things go into creating a culture and there is no one-size-fits-all model. I spoke with two companies in opposite industries, one tech and one traditional, that approach corporate culture with a “meet in the middle” philosophy. Here is their best advice for enhancing employee happiness and productivity.
1. Don’t be lackadaisical about the culture you create. Darius Mirshahzadeh is the President and Co-founder of Bay Area-based Endeavor America Loan Services. He is the first to admit that, “EA Loans is an old-school business in a sea of hip companies.” But he attributes his company’s hiring and workforce success to his being a stickler about the priority of the company’s culture.
“I am as deliberate about culture as I am product development, HR law, and client relations,” said Mirshahzadeh. “We cultivate a culture of recognition and gratitude amongst employees.”
In less than a year, Darius and Mike Mirshahzadeh, his co-founder and brother, have spent zero dollars on employee recruiting while attracting 200 professionals all around the country. They use a variety of employee recognition programs to motivate employees, most of whom work hundreds or even thousands of miles from EA Loans’ Walnut Creek headquarters.
2. Find tools that employees can use to motivate each other. Darius spent months painstakingly testing platforms that would put incentives and rewards in employees’ hands, rather than simply implementing a traditional top-down employee recognition program.
He likes YouEarnedIt best as a tool to promote employee recognition and incentivize referrals of new recruits. Using a “points and reward” system, YouEarnedIt rewards EA Loans team members with a paid day off, a Starbucks gift card, or even a standing ovation from co-workers for their efforts on behalf of the company.
“From an HR standpoint, I love to use YouEarnedIt to find and recognize employees that stand out from their peers,” said Mike. “It allows us to create an environment our people feel good to be a part of, and in turn, work harder and recommend the best-of-the-best to join the company.”
YouEarnedIt helped EA Loans inject a start-up spirit into their workplace to differentiate their corporate culture from competitors taking a more conventional approach.
3. Design teams that encompass the best of both worlds. HomeAdvisor is an online platform that connects home improvement professionals with homeowners. CEO Chris Terrill created a dichotomy of a sprightly, start-up-like core of a couple hundred people coupled with a much larger 1,000-person operations side. The idea wasn’t to create a divide, but to better serve the two different types of HomeAdvisor clients with creativity and maturity. Terrill emphasizes that their company culture allows them to operate as a “mature start-up,” a situation that is ideal for CEOs looking to combine the excitement and camaraderie of a start-up with the solidity and reliability of a mature business.
4. “Fun” should inspire creativity, not exist to lure talent. HomeAdvisor was named one of the Denver Post’s Top Workplaces in 2013 and 2014, and Terrill’s workforce attributes that to their freedom to mix work and play. The HomeAdvisor offices host game rooms where employees can break for a game of pinball or air hockey between projects, relax and laugh with colleagues, and reenergize.
HomeAdvisor also embraces Colorado hobbies with sports teams, bicycle rides, and rock climbing clubs, just to name a few. Terrill says these offerings inspire creativity and encourage collaboration significantly more than bonuses and retreats. Team members become comfortable with one another in a casual and friendly setting, and then strive to bring their best ideas to the table.
Terrill, a former executive at Match.com, doesn’t need culture to entice big names to join the HomeAdvisor team. Like the Mirshahzadeh brothers, he uses company culture to avoid excess dependency on top-down management, and inspire collaboration, team building and innovation.
Both companies share this sentiment: blending these principles creates a corporate culture as close to harmony as one can get in the modern work world.
“Consider your employees your first level of customers,” said Darius Mirshahzadeh. “Create a culture of reward, recognition, and excitement for your first level of customers, and you will see them strive to please their customers.”
This article was written by Kate Harrison from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Learn more about SmartRecruiters, your workspace to find and hire great people.