A few weeks back, I found myself on the receiving end of a pie in the face--at work. It happened about three seconds after I stepped into my office. For all of you 90s game show lovers out there, it was a whipped cream-filled pie of the Marc Summers' Double Dare fame. It tasted delicious and served as the perfect embodiment of our office culture: pies in the faces of management.
No, this is not a normal practice. It was an experiment: whoever beat our sales goal for the month would have the honors. Employees loved the concept and the competition was fierce, resulting in an almost immediate sales spike. My firm enjoys experimenting with culture-related activities and likes to keep it light and fun around the office. We hire for cultural fit and attitude and our dedication to keeping our employees happy has paid dividends in our bottom line success.
Need more proof that building a positive culture is integral to business's upward mobility? Last year, Deloitte released its "Culture in the Workplace" study, which found that 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is integral to business success. And while a pie in the face may not jive in your office, the following are a few tips to help you create a fun an engaging workplace culture.
Create an enjoyable atmosphere
Google is famous for this; employees can play a pick-up game of soccer, schedule a massage in the middle of the day, bike around campus and enjoy free food prepared by celebrity chefs. But this simply isn't an attainable goal for the other 99 percent of us who own small businesses with limited budgets.
Instead, think about what you can do to make the atmosphere in your office more enjoyable. Are the walls in your office barren and white? Spice things up with inspirational posters and colorful artwork. Invest in a few beanbag chairs for your lounge area, maybe a ping-pong table for your break room. These things don't cost a lot of money and employees will take note of your effort to make the office a fun place to be.
Keep your office clean. Sour smelling workspaces are no fun. Also, consider offering food for your employees. If your budget is tight, bring in healthy treats once per week or offer dried fruit in a dispenser in the kitchen.
Surprise your employees
About a month ago, we held a surprise party for our employees. Our management team decorated the office like it was someone's birthday and offered prizes, food and videos for a few hours. It was our employee appreciation day. Think about your mission and have a mission appreciation day. It doesn't have to take up the entire work day, but the extra effort you put in to make your employees feel appreciated will pay off in staff satisfaction and hard work.
Hire for attitude
Your employees are the gatekeepers to your company's culture. You can try to steer the ship, but they are the ones doing the rowing, so hire only the best. Pay attention to a candidate's attitude while in an interview. Explain a few details of your company's culture and ask for their feedback. Are they receptive? Critical? Regardless of their qualifications, hire for attitude and cultural fit at all costs.
Touch base weekly
Schedule a 10-minute internal huddle on Mondays, or, better yet, send out a video updating your staff on the happenings of the week. We do this every Friday by asking a few employees to sit in front of a camera (we started with an iPhone, you can do this with any device) and explain the week's successes and areas to improve. It takes under 10 minutes and our employees fight to be the next people on camera.
The feedback to these videos has been tremendous. Employees love hearing their name mentioned as part of a positive acknowledgement and appreciate feeling like they are in the loop on company matters. These videos establish transparency within our internal ranks, which builds long-term employee trust and loyalty--and solidifies an irresistible company culture.
What does your company culture look like and what tips can you offer to budding entrepreneurs?