Growth is exciting. But times of growth also mean times of change, so how do you navigate potential feelings of uneasiness and uncertainty amongst your team and maintain a great office culture?
It is imperative to ensure that during the growth process, alongside recruiting new staff and the implementation of other business changes, your company culture remains steadfast, acting as a reassurance for both your team and clients that whilst a lot is changing, there are certain elements of your company which they can rely on remaining the same.
As well as reassuring your core team, it will also provide a framework for new staff who might be joining you from companies which hold very different values to your own – if your culture is resolute and obvious, they’ll know what to expect from the outset allowing a seamless transition for everyone.
But as culture is not a physical object, how do you go about protecting and maintaining it?
1. Define and understand your culture
You need to be really specific about this. Vague bullet point such as ‘synergy’ and ‘communication’ won’t help you at all. What are your company values? What do you do better than everyone else, setting you apart from the competition? How do you want your employees to behave? How do you behave with your employees?
You don’t need to sit and come up with the answers on your own. By interviewing as many members of staff as possible and discussing with your management team, you’ll be able to put this together. The benefit of talking to lots of different team members is that before you’ve even finished putting it into words, they’ve played a part in shaping your company and will appreciate that you recognise their opinion adds value.
2. Shout about it!
Once you’ve defined your culture, shout it out proudly! Create plaques or framed posters in your offices in places visible to both staff and customers, write a blog post about how you went about creating it, add it to your website so prospective staff will be able to see if they’re already aligned with what you’re about before applying for roles. If your pride in the culture is obvious, it will be infectious.
3. Recognise employee contributions
As your company grows, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with a growing number of people. However, if you set aside some set time to make sure you recognise the hard work of your employees old and new, they’ll see that you continue to appreciate them and continue to hold attitudes in line with the culture you’ve carefully defined.
4. Allow employees to integrate
As you add more premises to your network, it can be easy for teams in each location to double down and feel alienated from other offices, especially in the property industry you are starting to cover a wider area. Look for areas of scope for different offices to collaborate during the work day, as well as providing opportunities for your team to mix on a social basis, in order to avoid the development of an ‘us and them’ attitude.
5. Organise activities and put them in the diary!
Your mind might immediately jump to the kind of team building exercises that often fill employees and employers alike with dread. But we don’t mean that unless that’s your thing! This will vary from business to business, but as long as you’re consistent and show that it’s important to you – anything goes! They don’t have to be grand, expensive gestures either. Creating a breakfast club, introducing dress down Fridays, implementing a company-wide ‘stand up and do yoga at 3pm’, ending each meeting with a member of the team choosing a TED talk video they’d like to share about a subject of their choice – whatever suits you and your business. Here at Veco™, we spend the last hour of each Friday winding down together with drinks offered and occasionally a quiz the whole team takes part in. It allows groups of staff who are not necessarily in the same departments to engage with each other (although everyone wants Phil on their team as he is the undefeated quiz champ) and have some lighthearted fun before we all go off to enjoy our weekends.
Share photos and videos at team meetings, not just work related but outside of work activities and these small things will create space for your team to integrate and feel a part of something special, and will more readily accept other changes.
Other things we have found to help build morale and culture are signing up for charity events such as Agents Giving Love Mud, running internal competitions like our Valentines bake off, involving staff in social media campaigns and posts, employee of the year awards as voted by staff as well as our fortnightly Monday morning meetings that everyone attends or dials into where successes are acknowledged and celebrated as well as company news being shared.