Every time I fly, I am amazed at the cheerfulness of Southwest Airlines employees. They are always smiling and laughing with each other. When I stand in line to board, I look at them and realize: they like coming to work.
While this shouldn’t be a shocker, it really gets me. How many people do you know that love to go to work? I’m afraid I only know a few. That’s because we’ve all been in jobs where the corporate culture is anything but positive, where we call in sick just to stay away.
But on my frequent airport visits, I start to realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies can have a positive corporate culture, one that instills inspiration and happiness in the hearts of its team members.
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This is a goal for Ben Kirshner. After several years of working in less-than-positive offices, he launched Elite SEM, a search engine marketing firm, with one major goal: to employ happy employees.
“I really care about what my employees want and need and constantly welcome feedback,” he says. “I also take good care of them—with free food, unlimited time off, and competitive compensation.”
His strategy has worked out nicely. Today, Kirshner employees 25 people across three offices and has a very low turnover rate.
“When employees are happy, they do better and treat their clients better,” says Kirshner. “It is better for the organization.”
Ok, so lets say your company is suffering from less-than-stellar turnover rates and you’ve noticed your employees acting a little lackluster lately. You might consider giving your corporate culture a revamp.
1. Define your legacy
“Decide what kind of organization you want to have,” suggests Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resource Solutions, an HR consultancy in Northampton, Massachusetts and author of Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. “Many people leave the corporate environment and join a small business because they were treated poorly.
“Think about what you want people to say about your company when they leave and then work backwards.”
2. Hire Smartly
“Get the right people on the bus,” advises Kirshner. “You can lay out a vision, but you need good people to take it to the next level. Most great workers already have jobs. Make sure you offer a differentiator.”
Employee-to-employer feedback is hugely underrated in companies of all sizes.
“Ask your employees what they like about working at your company, what they hate about it, and what they would do differently if it was their company,” suggests Kirshner. “Focusing on their needs creates a positive corporate culture.”
Consider sharing company goals and financials—good and bad—with your employees. Open lines of communication will create a culture of openness in your organization, and employees may become more engaged in the success of the business.
“I try to be very transparent,” Krishner says. “Employees like knowing what is going on.”
A pat on the back is always appreciated, especially when it comes from your boss.
“Give recognition where it is due,” Chinsky Matuson says. “Acknowledging and rewarding can really energize your employees.”
6. Prepare to change
Changing a company’s culture takes time, patience, and serious dedication.
“It is sort of like a diet,” says Chinsky Matuson. “If you are 400 pounds, you can’t get rid of that weight by just eating one less bag of chips. You have to completely change your life.
“It’s the same with a company’s culture. If your culture isn’t where you want it to be, start looking at making big changes. Those changes can be tough ones because they might include terminating bad apples.”