There’s a good chance that your office culture sucks. It’s true that we hear employee engagement is trending downward as at least half of the American workforce is thinking about leaving their jobs for something better. Office culture is a strong affecter of how happy you are in the workplace. In fact, we think office culture is the glue that builds a strong, productive organization.
What IS and IS NOT Office Culture?
It's not about a personal chef. It's not about ping pong. It's not even about having a beautiful office space. So then what IS culture? Former Director of Talent at Sprout Social Jim Conti told a room full of HR executives the following at a 2017 Talent Economy conference:
Culture lives and exists around you every day. Culture is NOT your game room, free snacks, or standing desks. When you take those things away what are you left with? Culture is how you communicate, how you treat each other, and what you value.
So we're talking about a generally positive and cool office culture. Businesses that have it retain their employees longer, produce more goods and services, and have no trouble recruiting even the most sought-after employees. Businesses with a cool office culture are the ones that everyone wants to work with and everyone wants to work for.
But how can a business pull off a great culture?
The Secrets to Great Office Culture
Culture feels real, but it's hard to replicate. It's a vibe made from company mission and values, but also how people interact with each other. Culture can happen, or it can be deliberately created but everyone can agree that a positive office culture is both desirable and a necessity.
You've heard that Google has one of the most renowned cultures in the world. Sure, they have afternoon volleyball, basketball courts, and subsidized massages. But it's more than that.
Officevibe says Google's awesome culture has more to do with certain characteristics than over-the-top benefits.
Google's Awesome Office Culture Characteristics
- They hire only the top candidates
Each year Google receives more than one million resumes. They hire just .05%. That's because they have such a meticulous screening process designed to both check your credentials and to gauge your ability to solve problems under pressure.
- They use data analytics to screen candidates
Google uses algorithms to predict the retention of new employees. Making HR into a science helped the company figure out not only the best candidates to hire but how to retain employees for the long term.
- Groovy casual and collaborative atmosphere
Google isn't bureaucracy-laden; they lack a high volume of middle managers, and their upper management is very "in the fray" with everyone else on the team. This ensures that everyone feels like they have a voice in the company.
- Crystal clear and mission-driven focus
Innovation is at the heart of every Google endeavor (Google for Jobs anyone?). Their mission is driven by a written manifesto but it isn't just about the paper; employees really embrace the cultural values and goals of the organization.
- Open-door transparency rules the business
Weekly meetings help establish an honest, open discussion-driven environment. Employees are encouraged to question the business model and goals as they work toward a project goal. Leadership shares where the company is, where it's headed, and how they will get there. Encouraging collaboration and transparency isn't just a goal at Google — it's a best practice.
- Employee recognition is a big tenet of the business
Google understands the need that people have to hear they are doing a good job. Employees receive big rewards in the form of stock and other bonuses. Famously, employees also receive praise for trying — and failing. They call it a "fearless office culture," and it allows employees to think outside the box enough to create real innovation without being too worried about not taking a chance because they might screw it up.
How can you bring these elements to your own office and company?
My Office Culture Sucks, What Can I Do?
What if you like your job and want to stay in it, but your office culture is disjointed, lacks collaboration, or is filled with some other uncomfortable vibe? According to Office Vibe, 42% of employees feel that their workplace leadership does not contribute to the company culture in a positive way.
What if leadership never got around to developing a cool culture that keeps people engaged? Can you fix it yourself?
How can you, as an individual employee, change your office culture for the better — even if your boss doesn’t know how?
The #1 thing to know about culture? Office culture isn't born — it's made!
We don’t need to quote any more statistics. You know instinctively how important office culture is. You’re more likely to want to work in a company where the cool kids hang out. You’ll be more willing to stay because of the people that surround you. Fast Company says, “Office culture doesn’t just happen — it is carefully forged, and can make or break a company.”
But ask yourself this simple question: Is it strictly up to corporate leadership to make a great workplace environment? Aren’t employees just as culpable if the office environment lacks awesomeness?
How to Fix Your Office Culture
Empowering yourself as the vector for an office cultural turnaround may be the beginnings of change that ripples across your organization.
Here are some easy ways you can positively impact office culture — with or without your boss:
- Take responsibility for your own morale
That means coming to work in a better mood and being kinder to everyone you interact with. Changing your attitude may require changing other habits — like going to bed earlier, exercising, or eating better. Perhaps this could all be part of a self-improvement kick that doesn’t need to wait for the New Year.
- Try networking with your fellow employees
Start by scheduling an on-site potluck or an off-site happy hour. You can start employee bonding without enlisting the approval of your employer. Or, you could approach your boss with an idea for an event that would bring people together in a setting that isn’t tied to your office. A baseball game or a night at the bowling alley might be the start of something new and good with your co-workers.
- Start a breakfast club
Pick a day of the week and have different departments bring breakfast to the office once a month. It can be as easy as donuts or as fancy as a make your own smoothie bar.
- Enlist the support of your HR department
It’s likely that HR already understands how hard it is to recruit into a bad office culture, so they may be the secret help you need to begin changing things at work. Maybe your suggestions will spur them to take charge of effecting change to bring things together.
Hiring for Your Office Culture
Once you've figured out your ideal company culture, it's time to find the right hiring matches. Culture fit, culture add, and culture match are big terms being thrown around lately when it comes to hiring. See what the difference between them is here.
Artisan is committed to helping office cultures thrive and be more productive by providing creative talent with the attitude to help your organization succeed.
Need Help Hiring? Looking for a New Culture?
No matter what your current vibe, Artisan can help find the right employee to fit any culture or the right culture to fit almost any employee.