I recently came across a great article on company culture entitled “Your Perks Aren’t Motivating Your Employees” via Inc. Magazine. Being a relatively young company, our culture is a constant discussion topic. Don’t get me wrong we have management meetings, marketing meetings, and product meetings just like any other rapidly growing company because those are necessary to achieve success. But culture, is one of those funny things that if you don’t address it, considerate it, or cultivated it, it might evolve into something that is less than ideal.
As we continue to grow both in revenue and in number of employees it’s extremely important that we take our culture into consideration. Understanding that culture cannot be created by Ping-Pong tables and free energy drinks, is a very important distinction for young companies to understand.
Space, as an office space, can be a huge factor in a company’s culture. We for instance have a great space but we have completely outgrown it and have been forced into some less than ideal office arrangements. It would be harmful to the culture if we just continued to cram desks into one another and not acknowledge the less than ideal situation. The flipside is the decision to be very open with the staff about these arrangements being temporary and the stressing the importance of finding the ideal office for our company. Our team leaders have been organizing more social events than normal to make sure our newest employees get the chance to meet everyone. Remember new employees do not have a frame of reference to how it “used to be.”
Our next space will be open air and allow our teams to work closely with one another. But until then it’s extremely important that we not let the physical constraints of our office keep us from building our ideal culture.
Another very important factor in creating culture is free stuff. I know that sounds like a radio station giveaway, but it’s true. The weight of the “free stuff” or office perks has to do with the value in which employees place on it. I know this sounds pretty basic, but you would be surprised how many companies say “I don’t get it, we provide free coffee, what else do they want?” The question is, do people in your office drink coffee? And if so what kind of coffee do they like? Does everyone drink the same kind of coffee? What about those of the offices that drink tea? What is the value of your “free coffee” to those employees? I am happy to say that the drink options at our office rival any 7-11 convenience store.
The true value factor of office perks cannot be forgotten. If it is the perks and even the incentives that are part of those perks will suffer. Think of it this way, if it’s not valued, it’s not a perk. Engaging with employees to find out what they like, want, or need is probably a surefire way to build the culture you want.