By Alejandro Rioja
Building a great company culture is essential for your employees’ morale and productivity and the overall health of your company. When people feel included in the mission and vision of the company, extraordinary results can be achieved. A great company culture must be created deliberately and thoughtfully. Warby Parker, for example, has a dedicated team that plans “fun activities” for all the employees such that they feel a part of the company. Google’s company culture is so contagious that it even got them a movie (The Internship).
But how do you create such an explosive culture where everyone feels included and considers their colleagues not just colleagues but friends?
To see how companies might be able to create such culture, I spoke with Anna Nguyenova, a friend of mine and also the VP of Operations at TubeScience, the world’s largest social video advertiser. She has been in charge of growing the company since she joined as employee No. 7.
“No company can thrive without having a strong culture,” explains Anna. “It’s so important that people find the place they spend at least 8 hours a day at to be enjoyable. It boosts employee morale and ultimately improves productivity and the company’s bottom line.”
In the last 6 months, Anna watched TubeScience become one of the fastest growing companies in America, spending millions of dollars a week on advertisements, generating billions of views each month and experiencing phenomenal month-over-month revenue growth.
Here are three key takeaways I learned when I studied how many successful companies got their culture right.
1. Foster inclusion.
When I was leading Flux Ventures, I tried to include every employee in the discussion by listening to their input. It is important that people feel that they are an active part of the company if you want them to do their best work. Having transparent communication among your employees is essential so that they contribute their best ideas.
Anna shared a great tip with me and told me to “invite people you never invited before to the next creative brainstorming session.” I tried this recently and the results were nothing but amazing. Having a fresh set of eyes look at the problem gave us great insights into aspects that we had missed. I encourage you to bring people from different departments next time you are in search of innovative ideas.
2. Create great support networks.
“When you are a new hire, the best way to learn about the company is not to talk to the CEO but to talk to your peers.” Anna recommends encouraging employees to spend time with new hires, such as through the company’s sponsored lunch or after work activity. “It is at the company’s best interest for any new hire to integrate fast, and using your team’s help is one good way to do it.” It is important for employees to understand that they can learn from their peers, not just the head of the company. The free lunch technique is heavily used in the tech industry.
3. Set up the expectations right from the start.
Though some companies may find a printed employee handbook a thing of a past, Anna believes otherwise. She has found that having a clear handbook has been especially important when it comes to communicating the company’s standard policies and practices. “As a company continues to grow it becomes impossible for any one person to develop a deep relationship with every employee in the company. That’s when the handbook comes in. It should be comprehensive and should serve as the definitive resource for employee expectations and vice versa.”
At Flux, we created a Google Drive with all the information that a new hire should know before starting working. However, I prefer to discuss this information in person so that the new hire can voice their own opinions about what they think we are doing right and aren’t doing right. This helps shape the culture and make it even stronger.
Company culture evolves as the company size changes. It is important to start with a good base so that seasoned employees can teach the new hires what the company culture is all about and so continue to develop it. Simple things such as outdoor activities or lunches can help further the bonds of the people that work in your company and will make them more likely to stay in your organization. It is also critical that you constantly remind people of your culture, not simply through words, but also the actions that you take. If you define yourself as a fun company, what kind of activities are you organizing and what kind of people are you hiring? You need to keep this consistent if you want your culture to thrive.
How do you create your company culture? Let me know in the comments.
A version of this article originally appeared here.
Alejandro Rioja is Chairman of Flux Chargers.