Building an Awesome Culture Will Also Build Your Business

We’ve all heard workplace horror stories: The New York Times revealed that Amazon’s corporate culture is so competitive that people are regularly reduced to tears.

Workers at SEARS say there’s a disconnect between corporate leadership and stores, with a majority of frontline staff disapproving of their CEO. Even something as simple as uniforms can impact how employees feel about their workplace – DISH Network workers complain about being forced to wear black uniforms in the summer heat.

It’s an understatement to say that workplace culture is important. It impacts morale, hiring and retention, and productivity – all factors that directly affect the bottom line. As business owners, focusing on the people helping you grow is essential.

I realized the importance of culture after some hiring mistakes nearly bankrupted my first company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Since then, I’ve focused on putting people first and I believe it’s the reason behind our success. By modelling awesome culture at the corporate level, our franchise partners can see the benefits, implement similar practices, and attract and retain talent on the frontlines.

Here’s how you can build an awesome workplace culture that will help you grow your business.

Wide-open spaces …and fire poles?

The first thing to consider is what kind of office environment you’ve created. People spend more than half their lives at work, and care should be put into the space you’re inviting employees into every day. Open offices boost communication, interpersonal relations, and job satisfaction while reducing conflict.

At O2E Brands, we have an open-office concept that allows staff to collaborate and feed off of each other’s energy. No one has private offices, including the COO and me. Of course there are meeting rooms for private matters, but overall, it’s a wide-open space. To reinforce this sense of transparency, we have a daily, seven-minute “huddle”. The whole company attends to talk honestly about revenue and goals, hash out broken systems, and start the day with a high-energy cheer.

We also offer perks that encourage our people to get to know each other. One example is First Round Friday, a bi-weekly party where we stop the clock at four and buy our staff their first drink of the weekend. And we’re certainly not the only ones making work awesome. Various Silicon Valley companies are famous for offering everything from nap pods and fire poles to massages and Razor scooters.

The takeaway here is that if you create an open environment where people love to work, they’ll be passionate about helping you meet and exceed the goals set for them.

Make it rain – on everyone

Money is great at attracting and retaining talent but many employers don’t realize that alone, it’s not effective at influencing how people work in the long-term. Instead, employees who feel a genuine sense of ownership have an incentive to contribute to their company’s success. A profit-sharing program that provides both financial reward and a sense of ownership is the best combination.

Back in 2004, we committed to distributing 25 percent of our profits to our employees. Every week, we share revenue numbers so people understand their contribution to the bottom line – or what they need to do to help us get back on track. This practice has inspired enthusiasm and cooperation where staff work together to cut costs. For example, one staff member proposed replacing our bottled-water service with a filtered system and dramatically reduced our bills.

If you’re queasy about splitting the revenue, don’t be – our profit-sharing program has boosted profits, big time. The first year we rolled it out, our bottom line after payouts increased by almost 800 percent. Since then, it’s been ingrained in our culture and the rewards keep coming: last year, staff received eight percent of their salary after working to smash revenue records. Just bear in mind the importance of identifying your objectives for this kind of program. For it to work, employees must understand your company’s challenges and be able to contribute to solutions.

If you have a vision for your business, you need people who are ambitious and engaged to help you get there. Building the right office culture isn’t about being a popular boss or having wacky perks. It’s about attracting and retaining talent that will help you grow and laying a foundation for sustained success.

Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, which includes companies like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING,You Move Me and Shack Shine. Brian is passionate about helping others grow small to medium businesses and corporate culture.

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