A successful company culture can make the difference between a workplace people dread and one they brag about. You don’t have to have a Google-sized budget to offer great culture. Many culture-changing initiatives have no direct costs to the company. In fact, when properly executed, culture-improving initiatives can lower company costs in both the short and long term.
Working for 15 years as a headhunter, I have touched hundreds of companies large and small and have seen many distinct cultures. Based on this experience I offer a few simple initiatives to encourage a productive workplace that people love.
Make Rules for the 95%, Not the 5%
Most of your employees are hard working, motivated, and professional. Workplace rules should be designed to give maximum autonomy to the vast majority of your workers. Don’t burden people with rules designed to control the 5% of employees who are constitutionally unmotivated or undisciplined. From dress code to work hours to meeting attendance, fewer rules in the workplace are better.
For one, fewer rules can start saving you money right away. Get rid of expensive firewalls blocking Facebook and YouTube. At the same time, access to these tools can help your employees research and network faster.
Celebrate Going Home Early
It’s not true that the longer you work, the more work you will get done. According to a 2012 study, flexible work hours can lead to increased retention and productivity. You can quickly improve culture by focusing on work output instead of hours of input. If you’re going to leave the office early, go ahead and announce to your co-workers that you just closed a mega account, sent out that report, and are now heading out for a manicure or to hit the golf course! There’s no shame in going home after hitting a home run.
Talk About the Future
Start taking people out for coffee, one at a time, to ask them where they want to be in five and 10 years. Armed with this information, help them achieve those goals, even if the goals aren’t related to your company. If an employee tells you he or she wants to be an actor, support them when they want to take acting classes. This way, in the time that they are with you, they’ll be loyal, committed, and thankful for the support.
Let Employees Manage Their Own Energy
Our metabolism is guided by our bodies’ circadian rhythms. We all experience peaks and troughs of energy throughout the day, and the highs and lows differ for each person. One-third of your employees experience a dip in energy so steep that between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day they need to nap. So let them nap, or encourage them to head out for some fresh air. According to a NASA study, a nap of just 26 minutes can boost productivity by 34%.
Recognize Your Team Every Day
People don’t work for just money. They work for recognition, too, so don’t deprive your employees of this vital form of compensation. They are working to build your company every day. As such, give them specific words of thank you the moment the occasion calls for it. You should be thanking each person you directly work with at least two times a week.