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4 Core Pillars for Building a Thriving Company Culture

When your team comes together to complete a project or accomplish a company goal, it feels great! The synergy between leaders and employees makes a huge difference, especially when it's crunch time—so, how can you create and maintain a close-knit and productive company culture?

Office workers collaborating in a thriving company culture.

Your company culture is influenced by many facets; company principles and values, style of management, and employee personalities, to name a few. How positive and productive your company's culture is depends on how you nurture it.

  • There are high productivity company cultures where amazing feats seem to happen each week, but everyone is stressed and overworked.
  • There are laid back company cultures where no one cares, there is no growth, and nothing gets done.
  • Then there are places where people come together, grow professionally, and thrive as an organization.

If your workplace carries a stressful vibe, constantly misses deadlines, or fails to retain great talent, follow these four pillars as a foundation for how you can build a thriving company culture.

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Group of business executives reviewing their company's values and principles.

1. Know Who You Are as a Company

Do you have a clear grasp on who you are as a company? Or, what it means to represent your brand?

Company cultures can be strong and very defined or loosely written and inconsistent. The strength of yours depends on how much effort you put in to defining and nurturing it.

Have Clear-Cut Principles and Values

Some companies put little thought into their culture and allow it to simply form organically, however, this doesn't guarantee a positive culture or one that matches your vision. To help your company grow and keep everyone on the same page, you will want to define a specific list of your company's principles and values from the start.

When defining principles and values, every company will differ. Nowhere does it say you have to offer flexible hours, a casual dress environment, or career development incentives to be a great company. Each of those things contribute to a specific company culture, but it doesn't have to be your culture.

When shaping your company's core ideals and beliefs, consider some of the following questions:

  • What do you want to see and do when you go to work every day?
  • What commonalities do each of your current employees share?
  • What makes you and your employees proud to come to work?
  • What's something you would change about the company if possible?

Defining clear principals and values will guide your company culture closer to what you envision it to be.

Defining Company Principles

Principles are a framework for running your business and letting employees know how to operate within your system. A strong set of principles will drive how your employees act and work together. You will want to create principles that will drive productivity and that you can see yourself working in.

Consider these examples:

  • Teach, don't give
  • Don't try to please everyone
  • Communicate what is expected
  • Advocate for what's best
  • Lead by example

Defining Company Values

Values are a framework for what your company believes and have a big impact on your company's culture. These are the traits and qualities you consider worthwhile and can help define the type of people you prefer hire.

Consider these examples:

  • Family first
  • Self-improvement
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Career development
  • Personal accountability
  • Diversity

Group of successful business people in suits celebrating company culture.

2. Share Your Business Vision

When principles and values are clearly defined, it makes it easy to share your company's story—the ultimate vision of what the company is set out to achieve. Organizations start thriving when everyone on all levels is clear on the expectations of their role, how to facilitate work as a group, and what the end goal should look like. It's the role of your leaders and veteran employees to live the company's story and share it with their peers.

Have a Common Story

It's easier for people to get onboard if they can get behind the "why" of your story. Whether it's the story of your services, products, customers, or a charitable cause, company cultures thrive when everyone understands the "why" behind what they are doing; it gives employees a common goal and helps to create an attachment to the work at hand.

Think about what your company's services or solutions are helping people to achieve and the why behind it—that "why" is what drives teamwork and a sense of community.

Ingrain It In Your Training

You will want to demonstrate your company's story and goals early on, especially during the interview process, so that potential new hires can get a feel for what the workplace is like and truly understand if the organization is a fit for them or not. The stronger and more apparent your culture is, the faster new employees will catch on.

Look to find ways you can ingrain you story into your training, such as teaching about your company history and looking at future initiatives.

Live It Every Day!

Talking about what you'd like your company culture to be is easy. Living it daily takes practice. You should be setting an example and living your company's culture every day!

Thriving company cultures have leaders who believe in what is being accomplished and emanate the company's principles and values. For your culture to grow, you need leaders to demonstrate principles and values through their decision-making. By leading through example, your entire employee base will be more likely to positively embrace your company culture.

Having the right people as your culture champions is important, as you don't want leaders who are not embodying your principles and values to the fullest.


White collar workers meeting in small office

3. Balance Talent and Character

You have a vision for your company culture, you and your champions are living it every day, now you just have to hire the right people. Easy, right? Right…

Just as people loathe the job search process, businesses also rather not have to go through the hundreds or even thousands of candidates it can take to fill one position. To make your search easier, try not to expend all your time searching for the perfect resume (the "unicorn" employee). Often, and employee's character can play just as large of a role, if not larger, than talent. Shift your focus on searching for someone that might not have all the skills, but that fits your culture and who is willing to work on molding to the role you need.

Don't Chase the Unicorn

That perfect employee you are searching for may not be a unicorn after all! More often than not, the perfect talent match you are dreaming of is not the right fit culturally, and vise-versa. You may find out in the first interview that the person's character is way off or out-of-balance with the rest of your team.

The moral here is not to judge an interviewee on their resume alone. The best way to find out more about their character is by bringing them in for an interview.

You Can't Teach Character

You can teach a new employee how to use a technology, follow a process, or even a new skill, but you can't change who they are—you can't change their character. As you narrow down your list of potential candidates, character needs to play a large role in your selection, because it's something you can't change.

Character Creates Culture

Employee character and company culture are mutually supportive. When your organization is built of unique individuals with great character, you're going to have a better chance for a great company culture.

"I'm not looking for the best players, I'm looking for the right ones."
- Herb Brooks

If you put a team together base on talent alone, you may be left with a lack of communication, collaboration, and synergy.


Business team training meeting

4. Focus On Employee Retention

Long-term, experienced employees are the backbone of company culture. They are the champions of your vision, the people that others are sad to see go, and the ones that other companies are waiting for an opportunity to hire. You need these people to succeed!

Companies with great retention rates that hold on to these champions give the impression of stability, something most workers want. It also shows job candidates the potential for building their career and long-lasting work relationships.

To retain the top-performers at your organization, make sure you're listening to their needs and providing them with the tools they need to grow professionally.

Employee Benefits

Benefits add a lot of value to a company's culture and can help your company stand out from the rest. Why you may not be able to compete with the "Silicon Valley" style of offerings (fully stocked lunchroom, employee lounge and gameroom, flexible work hours), be realistic and consider things that can directly benefit the employee while benefiting your company in return.

Consider…

  • Paying for continued training (certifications, conferences, degree programs).
  • Transit benefits—great for city businesses and saves gas money.
  • A stocked coffee bar—save employees money while showing them you care!

Your provided benefits should reflect your company's values and the type of job-seeker you are trying to attract.

Dress Code and Technology Usage

A bearded millenial in jeans and a hoodie, walking around texting on his phone!? The office environment has drastically changed over the last decade, and it's important that your organization keeps up with the times.

Beards, jeans, hoodies, cell phones are all acceptable… In the right workplace—and that's the key! The rules around what's appropriate in your work environment will play a big impact on your culture, so create something that you can see yourself working in. Do what makes sense for your work environment.

Many job positions with no customer interactions are becoming more lenient towards attire and appearance, leaving judgment to an individual's talent, work ethic, and character.

Jobs with front-facing customer interaction should still dress to the level that meets customer expectations while giving off the impression your business is going for.

Promote From Within

Promoting employees to higher positions within your company can benefit both your bottom line and the company's culture. First, it helps with retention, as employees will feel assured they can continue their career paths with you. Second, you will benefit from the expertise of an employee you have nurtured through the ranks as someone who doesn't have to be brought up to speed on the company's values, goals, plans, or message.


The Right Company Culture Can Build the Best Team

Building and maintaining a company culture may be one of the most important things that you can do to grow your company. When your culture is strong and clearly defined, it becomes easier to see what new candidates will fit in your system and in the long-run, will make your business a great place to work. This, in turn, will lead to exceptional candidates applying for jobs with your organization, and eventually contributing even more excellence to the company and attracting even more candidates.

Looking to build a dream team in the Greater Philadelphia area? J&J Staffing Resources provides thorough screening and staffing solutions that can help your company culture thrive!