What do companies like SeatGeek, Metromile, and Entelo all have in common? Aside from being named to Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 2017, they all have that signature startup culture so many larger companies try to replicate. You know the one: trendy offices, catered lunches, and weekly happy hours.
But, as is the nature with most startups, growth is the ultimate goal—and it happens rapidly. As the business scales, it can be tricky to stay true to the fun-loving, collaborative culture startups and small businesses take so much pride in.
The Alternative Board’s 2016 Small Business Pulse Survey found that while 93% of the entrepreneurs surveyed agreed on the relationship between promoting company culture and boosting employee productivity and creativity, they weren’t all in agreement about how to create and maintain that company culture.
As your business grows, try these strategies to keep your company culture intact at every stage:
1. Build a Sturdy Foundation
While ping-pong tables, beer kegs, and free lunches are all great things to have, these perks alone can’t solidify your company culture. If that’s all you have, your cultural values will get lost as your business grows.
To maintain the tight-knit culture that you and your employees know and love, incorporate those cultural norms into your company’s core values. For example, weekly catered lunches may be a result of your employee wellness initiative. Or a team happy hour may reflect the company’s commitment to work-life balance. In both examples, while the actual perk may shift as you grow, the underlying values will stand the test of time.
Connect these elements of your company culture to deep-rooted organizational values in order to build a much stronger foundation for your growing company.
2. Hire for Culture Fit
Just because you’re looking to build out your team doesn’t mean you have to lose the culture established by its founding members. Instead, let that culture inspire your hiring process.
Take culture fit into consideration when interviewing candidates to ensure the person you bring on board will embrace and contribute to the existing company culture.
So how can you make sure you hire a good cultural fit, exactly? During the job interview, ask a few open-ended questions on what the candidate considers an ideal workplace. How do they work best? What did they like or dislike about their previous work environment? What do they plan to bring to your company culture?
In addition to the questions you ask, culture fit can also be easily determined by involving other team members in the interview process. This way, you’re able to see how the candidate interacts with current employees.
3. Keep Your Friends Close and Your Employees Closer
With more growth comes more responsibility for HR, so it can be easy to put company culture on the backburner. But in order to maintain that small company feel, you need to keep your friends close and your employees closer.
As you grow it can become harder to interact with everyone. If you find that you have grown to a point where voices are being lost, introduce initiatives that bring everyone together.
Try changing your office seating arrangement on a regular basis, scheduling monthly company meetings, and organizing regular social opportunities to help employees break away from their desk and form connections with peers.
4. Keep the Culture Alive Every Single Day
Last, but certainly not least, strive to do something each day to keep your company culture alive. It can be as simple as brainstorming with employees in the office break room, eating lunch outside of the office, or playing a quick game of ping-pong in between conference calls.
The key is to make time to be an active participant in the company culture you and your employees created. When employees see you take time out of your day to embrace and promote your company culture, they’ll do the same. Every little bit counts.