5 Things to Consider When Building a Company Culture
What makes your business’ company culture stand out? Whether you actively foster it or not, your business has a culture — and how you shape that culture has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Factor in Culture from the Beginning
Culture really starts before a company even makes its first hire. As was the case for freight management company Vantage Point Logistics. The founders had a sense of the kind of culture they wanted to foster from the outset.
“They sat down and said, ‘Ok, how do we want to be as company culturally? How are we going to drive that down from us into future employees years down the road?’” says Don Carroll, vice president of business development at VPL.
It helped them develop their extensive list of guiding principles. Posted at every desk, workspace and throughout the office, the principles give all employees a compass by which to make decisions.
Having a concrete outline of your business’ culture makes it easier for current, and future, employees to understand and navigate. Leaving culture as a gray area can create a disjointed work environment and leave the door open to perpetuate negative aspects.
How does a Business Maintain its Culture as it Grows?
Many high-growth companies face the same problem: how do they maintain their culture while rapidly expanding the number of employees?
“As you grow it becomes more and more difficult to do that, obviously, unless you really make it a point to promote those ideals as you hire,” Carroll says.
He beleives that employers need to make sure that potential employees understand culturally how the company operates, and that new hires should get acclimated to that culture as quickly as possible.
Culture plays a big role in VPL’s onboarding process. One of a new hire’s first stops, often before they even see their desk, is to meet with one of VPL’s partners to talk about their culture and guiding principles.
VPL also focuses on instilling their culture in the leadership of every team within the business, continually reinforcing their ideals.
“If you don’t do that, the people that were with you initially, and this is true in a lot of high-growth companies, they tend to leave over time because the culture changes,” Carroll says. “What really made the company special in beginning tends to be less special, unless you really make it a point to maintain that from the top all the way down.”
What do Employees Want?
As Millennials become the driving force in workplace culture, what employees want is moving beyond good benefits and ample paid time off.
When the benefits and PTO look similar between high-growth companies, what stands out? Carroll says VPL sees some common characteristics in today’s workforce.
Particularly in the tech field, employees are interested in flexible work hours and opportunities to work remotely or from home. They also want low bureaucracy, a fast-paced environment, open door policies and collaboration between and within teams.
“A company where they feel like everyday that they’re contributing to the growth of the business and to the production of their team,” Carroll says.
For VPL’s high-growth environment, Carroll says they also specifically look for individuals with a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit. With one of their guiding principles being, “run it like you own it,” they want employees at every level of the organization constantly thinking about how they can make their role better.
“If they want to make changes, if they want to contribute, if they have ideas on how to make it better – that’s what fast growth is all about,” Carroll says. “That can’t be pushed from the top down, that almost has to be pushed from the bottom up.”
But beyond collaboration, flexible hours and job ownership, there’s one thing Carroll thinks is perhaps the most important – fun. Employees want to have a little bit of fun while they’re working.
Culture in Action
VPL has the fun angle covered with its very own Fun Team. The group of employees is charged with bringing fun into VPL’s culture and workplace, whether it’s margaritas for Cinco de Mayo or an Easter egg hunt.
VPL also has a Philanthropy Team that keeps the company involved in local philanthropic efforts, like the Walk for the Cure. Another team brings health and wellness to the workplace by stocking up on healthy snacks, or bringing in speakers to talk about stress or eating healthy. It’s also reflected in the company’s health and wellness allowance which employees can use for yoga, gym memberships and more.
As a part of VPL’s culture, the company takes time to celebrate its business milestones and high performing employees.
Employees nominate each other for the Guiding Principle Awards, honoring individuals who exemplify the principles on a regular basis. Hitting a major business milestone is cause to get the beer taps running, recognizing how everyone in the company has contributed to the business’ achievement. Carroll says they also plan plenty of team building and company events both on and offsite.
Culture’s Impact on the Bottom Line
Culture sounds great for employees, but why is it so important for a business’ bottom line?
“A good culture leads to happy customers,” Carroll says. “If you’re not happy, that definitely comes across to your customers”
Because employees are happy, friendly and satisfied, customers are satisfied.
Culture also impacts recruiting.
“Recruiting is incredibly time consuming and expensive…so you want to retain great people once you get them,” Carroll says.
Especially in the tight and competitive market for tech talent, having a culture that a company can describe and the potential employee can see throughout the interview process is a game changer.
“As you develop a bit of a reputation in the community for having a great culture, it makes it a lot easier to bring in great talent,” Carroll says.
This is part of a multi-part series presented with paid support by Vantage Point Logistics.
VPL is a leader in delivering supply chain technology and solutions to the healthcare market. With years of experience, the continuous development of leading-edge technology and proactive account management, we are transforming their supply chain making it smarter, easier and better. Recognized as one of America’s fastest growing companies, we are poised to develop even more innovative technology solutions providing transparency and savings across the ever-expanding continuum of patient care.
For more information on Vantage Point Logistics, visit vantagepointlogistics.com.