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Company culture became a buzzword at the turn of the century as millennials shifted the corporate agenda as they entered the workforce. Whereas before work was work, now we see it as more of a transformative process, one that should help us engage, foster growth and expand on our passions. The new workforce wants to find a work-life balance. They value flexible schedules and working environments. These factors and many others have come to shape how we define our company culture. More than anything though, company culture has become a major factor for potential employees in their job search.

Start the Conversation

Start with how you picture your perfect office environment. As a business owner, it can be hard to acknowledge that things need to change. An infrastructure that worked when you were first starting out might not be the most suitable option now. Accept that there’s always room to grow and building a strong company culture is a great way to open the door for feedback. Survey clients, coworkers and potential new hires. Create an environment where feedback is encouraged and improvement is celebrated. Find out what is most important to people enjoying their work. Happy workers make a positive work environment. As Lara Morrow says, “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.

Culture isn’t the Equivalent of Cost

With pet friendly workplaces and Amazon headquarters that look and sound more like gated communities, people often assume that building a company culture is going to be expensive. In reality, creating a strong intentional culture is an investment, but the potential opportunity cost of a poorly structured, unintentional culture, rooting itself in your company is far greater. If you want to recruit and retain talent, don’t overlook this step because you fear it’s more of an investment than it’s actually worth. As highlight by Arshad Chowdhury, “Many culture-changing initiatives have no direct costs to the company. In fact, when properly executed, culture-improving initiatives can lower company costs in both the short and long term.

All Eyes on You

If your company is in the midst of a culture overhaul, odds are all eyes are on you even if you don’t realize it. Leading by example spills over into every aspect of business. As Jeffrey Hayzlett explains, “Every leader needs to internally and externally reflect the company’s values and be its strongest advocates. He or she shouldn’t recite the mission statement as a solution to everything, but should exemplify what the company stands for.” Make sure your managers and leaders believe in these values. It shouldn’t feel like a forced value system. You want a team that lives by these values to create a sincere brand.

Treat Others How They Want To Be Treated

A variation of the golden rule brings to light a common misstep. How you want to be treated is not necessarily how others want to be treated.  Start with what motivates them. In the end, if you want to build a positive environment, remember that positivity is infectious. If you expect your employees to fulfill the written mission and vision of the company, first ensure they feel valued and respected.