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10 Tips to a Better Culture

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Company culture. It’s a topic Ratchet+Wrench discusses often, mainly about what other shops around the nation are doing that keeps employees happy and motivated and business at the top of its game. But what about other companies outside of the automotive industry? Take ForbesBest Companies for Corporate Culture in 2019. They picked out the top 100 best company cultures, featuring companies like Microsoft, Google and Southwest Airlines. Weave HQ, a communication software company; and Greenhouse, a hiring software company, were in the top five on the list for small- to mid-sized companies. 

“Having a good company culture promotes psychological safety in the workplace, and when you have that in place a whole host of benefits follow, like greater problem solving, listening, the ability to have influence across departments and really affect change,” Madi Bullock of Weave HQ’s public relations team, says. 

So, why did these companies make the top of the list, exactly? Ratchet+Wrench decided to sit down with Bullock and Kim Maynard, senior manager of media and analyst relations at Greenhouse Software, to ask just what makes their company cultures so great. Here are their top tips: 

Tip No. 1: Trust your people.

As a company, you need to think of people as your most valuable asset, not the profits you make. For Weave HQ, its motto is to put people first, then the product, then profits, in that order. And putting people first means putting your full trust in them. 

“You have to trust your employees,” Bullock says. “You hired them to do their specific job, now place that trust in them and watch them soar.” 

Tip No. 2: Focus on employee growth.

Growing your employees means you’re growing the company, too.                 

“We prioritize professional and personal growth, and are constantly thinking about how to keep our values at the forefront of our work,” Maynard says.

Greenhouse does this through quarterly goal-setting for employees. Maynard says through quarterly goal setting and weekly one-on-one chats, the goal setting empowers employees to do the best work of their careers, which includes trying out different job roles. 

“Interestingly, it’s not uncommon to see internal hires where Greenhouse employees change teams,” Maynard says. “For example, a sales development representative becoming a QA engineer. When everyone is passionate, good work gets done.”

Tip No. 3: Create an inclusive environment. 

Strive to provide all employees with an engaging, empowering, and inclusive place to work everyday. 

“Everyone is encouraged to be their true authentic selves, and to be effective and impactful with the work that they do,” Maynard says.

In fact, Greenhouse has a Culture Committee that is composed of a rotating group of employees who are nominated by their department leadership to make sure employees are all high performers in their day-to-day jobs and consistently make meaningful contributions to the company’s culture, Maynard says. The tech company also has an Inclusion Task Force, a self-formed group of both leadership and employees committed to discussing, highlighting, and working on issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Tip No. 4: Push for collaboration.

Cross-team collaboration is key when building a culture, according to Maynard. Finding ways to interact with people who aren’t on an employee’s direct team isn’t always easy, but it’s essential to the culture to make an effort. 

“Even as our company continues to grow and expand we work hard to remain connected,” Maynard says.

To help employees stay connected with one another, Greenhouse organizes monthly opt-in cross-team lunches and one-on-one chats to connect employees who don't necessarily work together in the same department or on the same floor.

Tip No. 5: Make them feel special.

“Be generous when you can, whether that be in word, physical gifts or perks or a deed,” Bullock says. “It means a lot when special attention is paid to the details of your experience and processes at work.”

Whether it’s an anniversary, birthday  or noteworthy accomplishment, Weave makes sure to make it known. For example, every new baby gets a feature in the company newsletter. 

“It’s these details, exciting benefits and perks aside, that help our people feel recognized and noticed,” Bullock says.

Tip No. 6: Communicate values.

As a company, having aspirations clearly documented makes it easier for the company to work toward them. 

“Our culture reflects who we are as a company, as well as who we want to be,” Maynard says. “Articulating and communicating company culture is one of the most important aspects of any business in any industry; it's an exceptionally productive exercise.”

In fact, Greenhouse recently did a full restructure of its values after the company’s executives conducted focus groups to get a pulse on what the elusive idea of “culture” really meant to them. Bullock says the company has narrowed down its values to three core pillars: 

  • Belonging: Creating inclusive spaces where people can bring their true selves to work 
  • Entrepreneurship: Encouraging positivity and collaboration with each other
  • Purpose: Engaging in a meaningful mission larger than ourselves

Now, with these values identified, the company is able to constantly work on providing it to its culture and team.

Tip No. 7: Provide constant feedback.

At Greenhouse, Maynard says they recognize the importance that as a company grows, the culture should, too. That is one of the main reasons why it promotes transparency that stems from its leadership team. The CEO and president hosts a monthly “Ask Me Anything” meeting, where he allows people to anonymously submit pressing questions and concerns.

“Whether you're an intern or a director, everyone is in the know,” Maynard says.

Tip No. 8: Be willing to grow. 

While it’s important to give constant feedback, it’s important to receive it, too. Receiving feedback—both positive and constructive—pushes organizations to think about how they can continuously shape and transform into a company that employees, customers and partners are proud to be a part of.

“A culture is never fully implemented or final, rather it changes over time and organically,” Maynard says. 

Tip No. 9: Respect employees as people.

At Weave, they have a phrase: “People, Not Employees.” Bullock says the company fundamentally believes that their employees’ personal lives and work lives are not as separate as most leaders would like to believe. Viewing and treating employees in a holistic sense, as people, will lead to happier, more productive employees, driving better results for your business, Bullock says.

Tip No. 10: Encourage a supportive environment.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses have gone through highs and lows, but the Weave HQ team has shown support throughout.

“We’ve seen team members banding together as support for one another during this isolating time,” Bullock says.

During the pandemic, the company started a new initiative called #WeaveConnected and Bullock says it has been amazing to see the participation from their team. 

“It started as something to connect us while we're all working remotely, but has since grown to be an externally facing push to support our small, local businesses and do good in our communities,” Bullock says.

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