company culture
Three business executives discussing in an office

By Jim Burch

What does your company culture look like? Some offices have a casual dress code with open work stations, refrigerators stocked with energy drinks, and even nap rooms for employees, while others enforce business dress, work in cubicles, and value a high level of professionalism. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to develop a company culture, and it can change based on the industry.

Whether intentional, your business certainly has one, and it’s entirely dictated by the owners and managers at the very top. According to the National Business Research Institute, employee morale is one of the top five factors affecting productivity in the office. If you feel like your company culture is without direction, here are some ways to create the ideal culture around your office and give it the identity and environment it needs for employees to thrive.

Define It: Before you can create and enforce a great company culture, you need to tell people what it is, especially applicants and prospective employees. The mission statement behind your culture should be front and center.

Promote Accountability: Owners and managers should avoid micromanagement at all costs. Not only does it cause leader burnout, stunt company growth, and create high employee turnover but it’s also wearing on everyone. Instead of one person micromanaging many employees, your company should promote a culture of accountability between each other. Let them manage their own projects and oversee their own tasks. You’ll be amazed what can happen when you let go of that control.

Private Space vs. Open Office: The jury is still out on the open office — a common workspace with no walls or barriers. When it first caught on in the early 2000s, the open office was all the rage where it started in Silicon Valley, but the concept is now going through some serious reconsideration.

It all comes down to preference. Do your employees value privacy and separation, or do they value collaboration and social interaction? This again falls heavily on the industry. A tech startup is more likely to have an open office while an HR firm probably has the privacy of cubicle walls.

Casual vs. Business Dress: This part of your company culture will likely go hand-in-hand with your office layout. Open offices tend to have casual dress codes while private office spaces enforce business dress. Again, no right or wrong way to do things here and, despite strong assumptions, there are no real studies that show people who dress in business attire are more productive at work. Some industries, like sales and other client-facing businesses, require a more professional dress while others are more behind the scenes.

It Comes From You: Don’t be all talk. If the people at the top don’t eat, breathe and sleep the company culture, then there isn’t one at all. If the culture is an extension of who you are and what your company is all about, then your employees will embrace it completely. Need an example? Check out what Revant Optics is doing. In this weekend challenge, both the CEO and CFO competed in the games with their employees. Embody the culture well enough, for long enough, and your company culture will become a living entity that your employees will contribute to and help grow.

Jim Burch was born and raised near St. Louis and developed an obsession for baseball and the Cardinals. In college, Burch studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News.