3 steps to grow company culture

Hannah Stampke
December 10, 2021

We hear about company culture on an almost daily basis: it’s in the news, it’s splattered all over LinkedIn, and it’s the focus for lots of big employee reports.

It’s all well and good to like a post here and read a report there, but actually growing company culture takes a little bit more. Don’t look at it as some disturbingly daunting task that looms above your head just out of reach. Scale back and start looking at things you can change.

Here are some important steps that will get company culture brewing.

Step 1: Being well and nurturing wellness

Speaking about feelings and mental health can be a little taboo for some people. They feel like they won’t be understood, or that they’ll be judged for their emotions.

What we need to understand is that having low mental health isn’t something that makes you different. It doesn’t alienate you and make you a lesser person! Humans have emotions so we can feel. We were given expressions so we can display these emotions. It’s in our nature, so let’s embrace it.

A lot of mental health can be treated, whether it is completely fixed or enough to the point that we can live with it. The main issue that gets in the way of beginning this process is stigma.

For many people in lockdown, the line between work and home life wasn’t just blurred, it completely disappeared. People were left feeling exhausted, physically and mentally.

If we’re going through this, then our co-workers could be too. But we can’t help them until we help ourselves.

An example of this is what the CEO of Stone & Chalk, Michael Bromley, went through during lockdown. In an interview with Teamgage, he said:

“When I was struggling and needed somewhere to go, I found a counsellor. I had somebody to talk to who wasn't, you know, judging or wasn't my family or friends or office or community, and they helped me a lot.”

The hardest part is reaching out for support. We need to normalise mental health and think of it as just another appointment. When we hurt our leg, we go to the doctor. When we have a tooth ache, we go to the dentist. For mental wellness, we should go to a counsellor or another professional service.

Another thing which helps is sustained, social communication with co-workers.

“We scheduled connections like everyone else, but sometimes we scheduled connections that were not were related to work at all. Just, you know, have a conversation, or have a glass of wine on a Friday and have a chat and talk about other stuff. So, the challenge was there but also the opportunity to connect deeper than you could have even just in passing in the hallways and an office was there.”, added Michael.

Step 2: Watch and listen

We can’t just do an annual survey, throw that feedback into a black hole, dust off our hands and then complain about low culture. Let’s take that feedback we receive and let it drive the workplace conversations!

According to Michael, leaders need to “talk to people, find out what they need, what they want, what they're doing, what works for them, what makes them productive and react. I mean, it's really the easiest thing on the planet to just listen to people, what they're saying. And listening to people by how they're doing things differently and what will make their job easier.”

The most important things a leader can do is listen, react, and respond. Figure out what is actually going on in the workspace and identify the pain-points. We need to work on smoothing the creases and show our co-workers that their opinions are valid and valued.

“People are saying, ‘I only want to come in two or three days a week’… Why? How could create something else in our office environment that emulated what was working for you elsewhere and give you that option?”, said Michael.

It all comes down to being open to growth and change, and not being afraid of it. Let’s empower our teams by listening. Really listening.

Step 3: Hire the whole human

It’s exactly like the saying snout to tail but instead of eating our co-workers, we use all the skills and abilities they have to offer.

Hiring someone just for a specific function is a waste of time and resources. People are so much more than their job title, so we need to start treating them like it! Encouraging this will make employees more productive, and they’ll often surprise us with the skills and abilities they subconsciously hide within themselves.

“What I tell my team all the time is I hire the whole human and what that means is if you're a programmer and I hire you to write software, that doesn't mean I'm going to only lock you into that skill set and you're not allowed to contribute in any other way.”, mentioned Michael.

Our overall advice is to listen, watch, hire the whole human, and let the whole human work. You will soon see everyone in a better position as a result.

Read Michael’s full interview.