The workplace environment you create has a huge impact on culture. If people feel comfortable and in a positive place, then they are going to open up more, allowing you to take full advantage of their skills and talents. And they’re far more likely to work at preserving positive culture when they feel as though you, the employer, care about them.
There are a variety of different ways to demonstrate this to your employees. Your presence is a big one. By working to build a relationship with your employees, you can get a better handle on how culture is developing, making it easier for you to steer things in the right direction when they get off track.
Another simple way to keep up positivity in the workplace is to offer some office perks. Little things, such as free, healthy snacks, a premium coffee subscription, office fitness equipment, game rooms, etc. seem like tiny gestures, but these are the things people often grow to love about their workplace. An office is an office, so if you can make it feel special, then employees are going to reward you with hard work and a positive influence on overall culture.
An inevitable part of growth is the expansion of your team. If you have a hope of keeping people on as the workload expands, then you need to bring in some help. However, one folly many young companies make is hiring strictly on experience and qualifications. While these are certainly important, they’re not everything, especially if your worried about the way your company culture might change.
Instead, you need to consider how your new hires are going mesh with and influence your current culture. You want people to be a fit, but you also want them to be different enough so that they’ll push you forward.
One of the best things you can do for this is to broadcast your employer brand—the image and perception people have of you as an employer. You need to not only define this according to the culture you want to build, but then you need to make sure this image comes through on all communications you have with potential employees, from social media posts to job postings and your website.
By doing this, you’ll make it easier to attract people that will be a good fit, and you’ll also be able to repel those who will not. A great example of this is the Netflix Culture Deck, which was released shortly after the company launched to try and shape the way culture developed at the growing company.
Another thing is to restructure your interviews to try and learn more about cultural fit. While you can’t flat out ask someone what their beliefs and values are, you can certainly ask them questions that reveal these characteristics.
Asking them to describe their ideal company, or how they would run things if they were CEO, are great questions for this. You can also posit hypothetical situations and ask them how they would respond. Their response should give you some insight into how well that person would fit with your culture.
Just remember, it’s a lot harder to change culture once it’s already embedded. It’s tempting to bring in new people as fast as you can. But if these people bring your culture in an unwanted direction, then this move may hurt you more than it helps you in the end. It’s better to wait for the right fit than to rush things and have to correct them later. And if you do a good job at helping your current employees manage the increased workload and maintain a good work-life balance, then a positive company culture is within your reach no matter how much you grow.