Even the tightest budget allows for an investment in culture.
1. Create a culture of the people, for the people, by the people
It’s very important that company leadership doesn’t just decide strategic plans and let them rain down from on high. It costs $0 to ask your employees what kind of programs and work environment are best for them. Survey, analyze, enact, repeat. Let your employees build your culture and your employees will respond.
2. Give employees space to care
A family atmosphere is a big part of our culture at Beryl. Employees wanted to raise funds to help a coworker who was going through a difficult time. So they took up a collection and then used those funds to buy supplies to host a cookout to sell burgers and hot dogs to the whole company. This kind of initiative tripled the amount raised and went toward something that was important to our employees. Cost to the company? The space and support for employees to act.
3. Bridge the moat around the corner office with sandwiches
Senior leadership teams should have regular lunches with employees. Sit down informally with a small group of employees from across the company and talk about what’s going on in the business. The casual setup makes employees feel comfortable to bring up concerns or new ideas. Make sure to take notes and follow-up. Follow-up is key for employees to know they are being listened to. Price to the company? Lunch.
4. Buy really cheap stuff
Source culture items like balloons, gold and silver cardboard stars, Hawaiian grass skirts, and life size Angry Birds and Kung Fu pandas from various vendors and contacts. Talk with employees and work their contacts to get the best deal on things we wanted to bring into the office.
5. Free to be me
Throw out our corporate guidelines for office and cubicle displays and let your people create spaces they enjoyed. Cost to let your people build the atmosphere they work best in? Nothing.
6. Pour energy into the office
Take care to make sure that your whole building is upbeat. From the music in the bathrooms to your redesigned break room, it’s not hard or expensive to be surrounded by a good, positive environment. And happy employees return that energy by treating people who call in with care and compassion. Sit down and critically evaluate what your space looks and feels like. The best decorations we have are pictures of our own employees simply having a good time being with each other. Price tag? Some frames and nails.
7. Take silliness seriously
Theme days, dress-up days, contests, and even coordinated teasing of executives keeps the culture loose, fast, and fun. Pay attention to popular shows and pop culture and coordinate an event that capitalizes on what’s hot out in the world. Get media coverage from the employee-driven “pirates” vs. “ninjas” competition day in our offices. Its not a PR stunt. It is just something that made employees happy. Cost to the company? Some boxes and poster paper.
Choose any of the above, put it into action, and measure the results. You’ll soon realize that while creating the foundation of a great culture can be inexpensive, the smiles and effort you’ll get from your employees in return will most definitely be priceless.