Every business is expected to work hard on the back and front-ends of the business to succeed in the long term. A beautiful web design that appeals to target customers might have linux dedicated servers to keep it running smoothly behind the scenes and create a seamless user experience. A thorough Knowledge Base might utilize artificial intelligence software in the background to ensure customers get the best out of their information services. And great customer service comes from an equally stellar workplace culture, where employees go above and beyond for their job.
A study conducted by Columbia University found that companies where workplace culture was high had a low turnover rate of 13.9%, while businesses with low culture had an employee turnover rate of 48.4%. When building your business, one way to look at workplace culture is by paying close attention to the founders and CEOs that are winning in this area. Brian Kristofek, President and CEO of Upshot, said that being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and being a great company. And David Cummings, the CEO of Pardot, said that corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that’s within the control of the entrepreneur.
When the culture is right, you’ll find that many other aspects of running a business–like customer service and brand building–come much more easily. After all, before you can make your customers happy, you’ve got to focus on making your employees happy. Here are four key workplace culture tips from business leaders you know well:
Put Company Culture & Communication First (Evernote)
Successful companies grow because people communicate effectively. This is something Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, takes very seriously. “We try to have the kind of a culture that doesn’t value excuses in the sense that when you’re supposed to accomplish something, and you’re at a high level, then your job is to accomplish it, in spite of difficulty,” says Libin. “And you’re rewarded for dealing with that.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Libin said that one of his goals at Evernote was to uproot reliance on email communication, and instead focus on an open culture where people could walk up to one another freely–whether they’re across the room or three flights up. According to Libin, it’s far too easy for employees to misread the tone of lengthy portions of text, and real-time talking helps dispel potential mixups.
Libin also went on to say the company offers voluntary “Officer Training,” which allows employees to partake in meetings from other departments in order to better grasp how other areas of the business work. This ability to temporarily “step into another person’s shoes” makes it much easier for employees to understand and empathize with other coworkers.
Make Your Company Culture Your Own, Jeff Bezos
Every business has their own company culture, and it’s not uncommon for businesses to turn to other brands for ideas on what type of culture they should embody. And while there’s nothing wrong with curating inspiration from many different workplace cultures, it’s important that you consider your own values and what you want your brand to stand for.
“We never claim that our approach is the right one—just that it’s ours,” Bezos wrote in the 2015 letter. “Over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful.”
Create Core Values, Tony Hsieh
When it comes to company culture, Zappos is a company that cannot be left out of the discussion. The company rakes in over $1 billion annually, but what makes the business so successful isn’t just their retail strategy, but their mission to center their company culture around their core values.
“We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build.”
The customer service stories that stem from Zappos are a testament to the culture happening at Zappos headquarters. Zappos’ core values include “having fun and being a little weird,” and “building open and honest relationships through communication. Because Zappos employees are so happy, that happiness seeps through every transaction. This is why roughly 75% of Zappos orders are from repeat customers.
Better Perks Lead To Productivity, Google
Google has long been considered one of the best companies in the world to work for. This is no surprise, considering that for many years Google has cultivated a workplace culture designed to inspire creativity, collaboration, and customer-oriented products. One of the major ways Google achieves this is by providing employees with amazing lifestyle perks that make every day a great day. From daily free food to workplace scooters to nap rooms to office slides, Google employees have it made. Having access to these perks helps the employees feel valued, and increases productivity.
“I don’t think it’s any of those individual things,” Larry Page said in an interview with Fortune magazine. “It’s important that the company be a family, that people feel that they’re part of the company, and that the company is like a family to them. When you treat people that way, you get better productivity. Rather than really caring what hours you worked, you care about output.”
Page goes on to say that healthcare is also an important part of the workplace culture at Google, where, in addition to competitive healthcare plans, there are other lifestyle programs that help employees quit smoking, learn to meditate, or participate in an exercising class.