The key ingredient to growing a business isn’t solely a material resource like funding. Instead, it is the passionate believers who come on board to help you build the company of your dreams. An air of excitement, innovation and fun is essential to creating an environment where all employees will want to stay and thrive.
Working for a paycheck is good, but working with purpose and passion is even better. Below are three key lessons my cofounder Brittany and I have learned in building up our team from zero employees to 10 full-time team members.
1. Get everyone involved.
According to Gallup, last year only 31.5% of the American workforce would define themselves as engaged at work – “engaged” meaning enthusiastic and committed to their work and workplace.
To excite a sense of community and shared company culture at ZinePak, we created a monthly rotating position called the Culture Captain—a role that’s helped to get every employee actively involved. Each month, the Culture Captain is tasked with planning events for the company within a certain budget. Activities have included ice-skating, Friday Fun Facts and milestone celebrations like birthdays and work anniversaries. Each new Captain is responsible for outdoing the preceding one in terms of creative engagement.
At the end of the year, we vote on which month was the wackiest, most fun or creative. This allows employees to become actively engaged with the company and with one another, thus creating deeper, more meaningful bonds and memories between their work and “That really fun time when we did XYZ.”
2. Create a learning environment.
Fostering employees’ potential for growth is key to keeping great talent at your company. Whether sending them to trade shows to learn about new technologies or facilitating enrollment in a Lynda.com class that takes their understanding to a deeper level, keep in mind that an employee’s gains are your gains.
We’ve encouraged employees to experiment with new skill sets, suggest programs we could implement and to share books or articles they’ve found to be especially useful or insightful. In an environment where programs and protocols are constantly evolving, team members should feel empowered to improve the workplace.
3. Find out what matters.
The most important part of retaining talent is learning what matters most to individual team members. For some, an extra day of vacation to spend with family means more than extra pay. For others, a gift card to a favorite restaurant and a personal handwritten note is more appreciated than any amount of public praise. Understanding and learning these personality traits will help you form strong connections and foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
Employees want to be heard and appreciated for the work and excitement they bring to your company each day. Learn what makes them feel valued, take note of it and prepare to implement it! There is no bigger reward than coming in each morning to a staff that is enthusiastic, fulfilled and passionate about completing the work on their to-do lists.
Read more about ZinePak.