41 Easy Company Culture Ideas From Real Companies
Company culture has become a hot topic within the recruitment world. Why? 56% of adults say that culture is more important to employee satisfaction than compensation. If you’ve noticed a dip in your employees’ engagement levels and are experiencing more turnover, your company culture probably isn’t as strong as it should be. If this is your company, don’t panic — we have the resources to get you back on track.
It’s no secret that a strong organizational culture leads to higher retention rates, improves employee engagement, increases profitability and makes it easier to attract top talent. Company culture is a living, breathing organism that evolves over time, but there are certain steps you can take now to make a positive impact on your existing culture. Read on for 41 easy ideas to improve company culture that you can implement today.
41 Company Culture Ideas With Real Examples
1. Establish a culture committee
One of the most effective ways to improve your workplace culture is to designate a team of employees to continuously evaluate and implement culture initiatives. 10th Magnitude, a Microsoft Azure solutions provider, leverages its employees — both in-office and remote — to oversee its company culture development.
The culture committee was “specifically built to address and promote cross-office collaboration and the continuation of our values,” says Mike Denton, Vice President of Talent at 10th Magnitude. “We talk about what is going on in our employees’ lives, the office vibe and life as a remote worker to try and stay in front of any potential issues and provide a great employment experience.”
2. Hold monthly townhall meetings
A monthly company-wide meeting is a great opportunity to recognize successes from the past month, answer employee questions, address concerns, give shoutouts to top-performers, welcome new hires and share company updates. This forum brings everyone into the fold and promotes a culture of transparency between leadership and staff. Not only that, but it’s a great opportunity to connect with remote employees and keep them engaged.
3. Hold C-Suite office hours
If your business is scaling rapidly and a standing company-wide meeting isn’t necessarily feasible, give employees the opportunity to speak with members of the C-Suite on a regular basis. For a company growing as quickly as Green Thumb Industries (GTI), finding a way to keep employees connected was a top priority. Apart from all-hands weekly meetings, Vice President of People Eunice Kim says the company implemented “an open-door policy with senior management, including [GTI] CEO Ben Kovler,” who “holds weekly office hours where employees are encouraged to ask questions or present ideas.”
4. Embrace failure
Obviously, you want your team to be successful, but often the path to success is paved with moments of trial and error. You won’t break into new markets or discover the next big thing if you aren’t taking risks and learning from mistakes. CEO and Founder of 20spokes, a design and development firm based in Chicago, appreciates his team’s perspective on failure. “We always celebrate successes, but over time have found our approach to failure has been key to our team,” says Fischer. “It has created a culture that can provide support when needed, and instead of stressful situations, we look at how to move forward.”
5. Foster passions
You’ve worked hard to build a team of curious and passionate employees. They give their all to their jobs, and knowing that leadership supports their personal pursuits will motivate them to continue to show up strong in the office. Square Root, a software company headquartered in Austin, TX, encourages employees to learn more about topics that interest them through its Learn Anything program.
The program provides employees $3,000 annually to use toward anything learning-related. “It’s been a great outlet for our team to explore passion projects they set aside years ago or hobbies they’ve just discovered,” says Square Root Operations Coordinator, Rachel Wright. The team believes that pursuing individual interests is good for business. “The more our team can grow individually, the more growth potential we have as a company,” Wright adds.
6. Make family life a priority
Work-life balance isn’t just about making it possible for employees to leave the office. For parents with full- or part-time jobs, juggling work with their children’s schedules is a serious obstacle to employment. Offering a family-specific benefits package creates a culture that’s welcoming and supportive of parental status. Plus, paid family leave has been shown to benefit employers by increasing productivity and labor force attachment upon an employee’s return to work.
Braintree, a Chicago-based fintech company that specializes in payment platforms, takes “parent-friendly” a step further, offering paid parental leave, flexible scheduling — including work-from-home opportunities — a dedicated mother’s room and subsidized child care.
7. Lean on your interns
Your summer interns can be much more valuable to your company than just the occasional coffee run. Their fresh perspective and willingness to learn can be a huge catalyst for your company culture. Plus, creating an exciting experience for interns can provide you with a pipeline of solid candidates that simplifies your recruitment efforts, so don’t dismiss your summer employees.
At Sprout Social, interns are immediately brought into the fold with current projects and are given the opportunity to actively learn. “The benefits go both ways,” says Infrastructure Manager, Blake Smith. “Having a vibrant internship program helps our senior engineers level up our work. When we explain a difficult engineering concept to a new intern, it forces us to step back and reexamine what our team is doing.”
8. Prioritize diversity and inclusivity
We’re fortunate to live in a richly diverse society, and your company should accurately reflect the world today. The mobile marketing company Vibes has built a strong culture of diversity and inclusivity. “By bringing new team members from differing backgrounds and experience levels onboard at the same time, we can help build camaraderie so that each person can bring their full selves to the team and help us all become better,” says Clarke Retzer, Vice President of Engineering at Vibes.
9. Establish a new hire ambassador program
Your new employees shouldn’t simply fit into a mold; they should add to and enhance your existing corporate culture. Fast-track this process by making new employees feel welcome from their first day.
“At an individual level, we are very focused on developing our new hires,” says Haytham Samad, Director of Software Engineering at PEAK6. “We assign each new hire a mentor that would guide them through various phases of their development starting with prescriptive and institutional learning and gradually release responsibility to them as they develop into more independent contributors that can lead projects.”
10. Promote your core values
Be thoughtful with the values and mission you outline for your company. By providing every employee with a code of ethics to adhere to and a set of core values to embody, you can create a cohesive team that’s motivated by the same goal. The team at Hireology, a Chicago-based hiring and talent management platform, infuses the company’s five core values into everything they do. “We have our core values, which really dictate our culture,” says Joanne Denenberg, Implementation Team Manager. “Our culture really is just abiding by our core values every single day. It’s ingrained in you.”
11. Turn departures into celebrations
Turnover is a part of every company in every industry. When all-star employees decide to move on, treat the situation as a positive experience and celebrate the great work they accomplished during their time on your team. This creates a positive culture and encourages ending employee relationships on a high note.
12. Build a culture-inspired perks bundle
Your benefits packages are a reflection of your company culture. If you value work-life balance, a flexible vacation policy would be an appropriate perk for your employees. This goes without saying, but if you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk — managers and leadership can’t project disappointment when a PTO request comes through.
13. Build your culture around your mission
For Blackbaud, a nonprofit cloud-based software provider based in Austin, TX, everything is centered on “helping good take over.” The team doesn’t just enhance NPO development efforts, they work to make a positive impact within their community. “We believe that an employee should be engaged in life, not just work,” says Justin Womack, Senior Technical Account Manager at Blackbaud. “Blackbaud supports us with community service days and awards us with more vacation time for volunteer hours spent outside of the office.”
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14. Host timely in-office events
As part of Social Solutions’ efforts to improve its company culture, the Austin-based software company formed the “Work Hard Play Hard Committee.” One of the group’s initiatives was to organize company-wide social events to engage employees in an informal setting. “To drive excitement for the Super Bowl,” says Frank Vanco, Recruiting Manager at Social Solutions, “we [held] a dip contest and also offered free entry into a Super Bowl squares contest, with prizes going to the winners.” Events like a dip-off or themed potluck can be low-cost ways to improve your company culture, and hosting them onsite during the lunch hour is an effective way to ensure employees participate.
15. Reward your team with lunch on the house
Depending on the size of your staff, providing lunch for your entire team can be a large expense. However, having a meal provided by the company makes a great impression on employees. Flowspace, an LA-based e-commerce and logistics solution company, provides catered lunches for its team members every Friday. Not only is this seen as an exciting perk, on-site lunches cut back on grocery expenses for employees. Plus, it gives your team the chance to socialize over a meal. Win-win-win.
16. Encourage your team to travel
An unlimited vacation policy has become increasingly more common within employee benefit packages, and to great success — 80% of employees are more interested in additional benefits than they are in pay bumps. Your team is staffed by qualified adult employees and a flexible vacation policy treats them as such. Advertise Purple, an affiliate management agency based in Los Angeles, CA, has determined that its unlimited PTO policy fosters a culture of accountability, creates a positive employee experience and increases productivity.
17. Operate with a startup mentality
Regardless of how long you’ve been in business for, every company can benefit from the flexibility and collaborative nature startups boast. Collaboration is the cornerstone of innovation and implementing a simple communication platform can increase your team’s productivity by 32%.
At the digital marketing agency NextGuest Digital in New York, startup mentality is still prevalent today. “People would be surprised to find out that we have a young startup culture even though we’re an established firm,” says Sasha Asina, Talent Acquisition Coordinator at NextGuest Digital. “Creativity and collaboration are always encouraged while everyone’s opinion is heard.”
18. Create interest groups
Encourage your employees to form personal relationships outside of work to increase their engagement and satisfaction in the office. NYC-based real estate services platform Spruce founded the Spruce Adventurers group to provide interested employees with the opportunity to hike, paddle board and be generally outdoorsy with coworkers.
19. Host company happy hours
For SmartSense by Digi in Boston, MA, Friday happy hours reward employees for a productive week with the chance to unwind and socialize with their peers. Dave Raymond, Vice President of Program Management at SmartSense, says the weekly social event “really helps to bring the team together.”
“We are sprawled across two floors of our building, so having the chance to mingle in the employee lounge with colleagues across job functions is critical to building relationships, sharing project knowledge and new ideas, and ensuring we are all driving toward common goals together,” says Raymond.
20. Empower new Parents
Paid maternity leave is an important benefit to offer, but there’s more that can be done to create a culture welcoming toward working mothers. Danielle Farina, Head of Recruitment at Panorama Education, is proud of the company’s parental leave policy. “I was on maternity leave for a total of 16 weeks — 14 of which were paid,” Farina says. “When I came back to work, I had six weeks of a three-day work-from-home schedule, which was a tremendous help to ease back into work. As a new mom, I felt so fortunate to have four months to bond with my son, and my flexible work schedule has allowed me to strike a real work-life balance.”
21. Celebrate “work-aversaries”
Reward employees that have been with you from the very beginning to demonstrate your appreciation for their commitment to the team. Ombud, a content collaboration software company based in Denver, CO, commemorates its employees' five-year mark with a six-week sabbatical and $6,000. And if that doesn’t convince employees to take time off, Ombud takes away their work computers to encourage unplugged R&R.
22. Make work-life balance a reality
Creating a culture that encourages employees to enjoy time outside of the office can motivate individuals to engage more deeply with their work during business hours. In fact, employees who view their work-life balance positively work 21% harder than those who don’t. “Work-life balance is a value that AdAction holds high in regard,” says Miranda Moore, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at AdAction Interactive. “We offer our staff generous PTO and provide them with the necessary resources to work from home, as needed.”
23. Set up a cross-departmental buddy system
One of the best ways to encourage employee relationships is by building it into your team’s calendar. At FareHarbor, an activity booking software company, their team implemented an employee partner program that pairs team members up for coffee or lunch dates each week. Strong relationships between employees will lead to a strong company culture.
24. Offer internal professional development opportunities
Create a culture of learning that supports each individual in their professional pursuits. Vrbo, the leader in online vacation rentals, offers internal learning opportunities that allow employees to explore various departments and roles. Not only that, but Vrbo supports career transitions through its “bungee” program, in which employees are able to test-drive roles in other departments for six to nine months.
25. Offer external professional development opportunities
Providing employees with the resources to explore other academic or professional interests allows them to develop skills that might not be directly related to their field of work, but can still benefit them in their role. TrainingPeaks, an endurance training software company, makes professional development a priority within their corporate culture.
“Everyone receives a free subscription to Lynda.com,” says Bryan Alders, Digital Marketing Manager at TrainingPeaks, “which has great resources to learn just about any new skill you can dream of.”
26. Start a wellness initiative
No matter how satisfied and engaged your employees are in the office, work will always have its stressful moments. Invest in your employees and foster a positive culture that promotes full body, mind and spirit wellness.
At Backbone, team members are encouraged to prioritize their health. “Every employee has a monthly wellness allowance that they can invest in gym memberships, yoga classes, meditation — anything that is beneficial to your wellness,” says Jodie Rigali, Full Stack Engineer at Backbone.
27. Schedule regular lunch and learns
Lunch and learns are a great, efficient way to improve cross-departmental information sharing within your company, which contributes to a culture built on employee relationships and communication. The e-commerce giant, Etsy, implemented a lunch and learn program to encourage employees to share their knowledge on various topics with other teams.
28. Coordinate potlucks
A themed potluck is cost-effective and can help bring employees together in a casual setting. Plus, everyone can contribute a dish they enjoy or has personal significance to them. Christopher Brown, Engineering Manager at Trunk Club, keeps his team engaged with a recurring breakfast potluck, affectionately named “Goonies breakfast.” “People bring in their favorite dishes, homemade or premade,” says Brown. “It’s a great opportunity to take a break and chat with your teammates in tech over coffee and a skillet or doughnut.”
29. Get in the holiday spirit
Hosting holiday parties is a fun way to get employees involved in work outside of their defined roles. Encourage different departments to spearhead various party-planning tasks, or randomly group employees together to facilitate conversations between individuals who might not normally interact with each other.
30. Commemorate big wins
The way your team celebrates its success says a lot about your culture. The crew at Punchkick Interactive, a software development company, makes employee recognition a part of their daily operations. “It’s really important to us that everyone in the company gets to share in the excitement and know how much their contributions toward our common goals are appreciated by the whole team,” says Connor Mason, Account Principal at Punchkick. “We dedicate a company-wide huddle to celebrating every major success. This way, everyone who contributed in any way to a success can showcase their hard work, and others who might be seeing the work for the first time can be inspired and spark new conversations.”
31. Rethink your workspace
The physical office environment plays a large part in employee satisfaction and level of engagement with work. Increased exposure to daylight is enough to boost employee productivity by 2%.
The PitchBook office located in Seattle, WA, has a sprawling open floor plan which has “created a culture that values collaboration and communication,” says Sarah Rasmussen, Customer Success Manager at PitchBook. “There are no individual offices or cubes — instead, employees enjoy an open layout and several collaboration spaces and common areas to gather and share ideas.”
32. Create a culture handbook
Outlining your company culture goals and employee expectations signals to your team that the culture you’ve worked tirelessly to create is a top priority and needs to be taken seriously. Having a handbook also gives you the opportunity to go over your core values and mission, as well as address any questions or concerns your team may have. Review the handbook with your team and make it a formal part of your onboarding process to ensure new hires are aligned.
33. Design company swag
Camaraderie is a crucial component of a great company culture and giving your staff company-branded apparel unifies employees and helps new hires feel like part of the team. The team at Ayzenberg Group goes a step further to bring an element of individuality to their swag. “Ayzenberg’s myCOLOR platform is an assessment tool that analyzes the traits and preferences of team members then assigns a color that identifies their personality,” says Chris Younger, Principal Director of Strategy at Ayzenberg. “myCOLOR office decorations, jackets and company swag are then displayed so colleagues can recognize — and, therefore interact — more effectively; ultimately reducing stress, developing tighter relationships and improving overall performance.”
34. Hold your team accountable
You want to create a positive, engaging work experience for your team, but you’re also running a business. It’s important to remember that as often as you reward high achievers and positive behaviors, you have to hold your team members accountable for their roles within the company and the culture. A large part of a winning organizational culture is built on trust, and your employees need to know they can rely on their peers and managers to get the job done.
35. Offer performance incentives
A commission incentive is an obvious first choice to motivate your sales team. However, there are more personal ways to incentivize account executives. Boston-based 3D printing platform company Markforged offers more than just monetary rewards. “In general, Markforged has great sales incentives programs, but after recently closing the largest deal to date for the company, I won the quarterly contest and a long weekend trip in Napa Valley,” says Caleb Baird, Commercial Sales Representative at Markforged.
36. Acknowledge achievements
Recognizing top performers across the company is a great way to celebrate wins, foster a team mentality and increase employee engagement. While dollars and cents make it easier to determine what qualifies as a high performance, it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of all your employees. Create a shoutout board — on your company’s communication platform or go old-school with a publicly displayed bulletin board — where managers can recognize their direct reports’ work.
37. Be compassionate
Creating a culture of recognizing and rewarding your staff will encourage employees to do the same for each other. Modeling compassion is a surefire way to ensure that kind of positivity is infused into your own culture, much like it is at Kendra Scott.
“Sweet thank-you notes, balloons or flowers for a milestone or achievement, or the occasional box of cookies for simply helping a teammate get through a deadline — there are so many random and selfless acts of kindness sprinkled throughout the office,” says Millicent Hawkins, Vice President of Change Management at the Austin-based fashion-lifestyle brand. “It’s a sign that our culture of caring is always in place, and that’s what keeps me here.”
38. Poll your people
Any given organization will have a unique company culture, regardless of whether it was intentionally formed or not. An organizational culture is not defined by one individual and your culture should evolve as your business does. Getting into the habit of regularly surveying your team about their likes and dislikes within the office will help you to deliberately create a corporate culture that encompasses the full team’s input.
The staff at Name.com, a domain registrar located in Denver, CO, views their team as a family. “One of the best parts about Name.com’s culture is that everyone plays a part in defining it,” says Lead UI/UX Engineer Jon Liu. “Our culture is not set in stone or defined by a single person; it has evolved over time to accommodate and reflect the people on our team.” For Liu, Name.com’s culture is more than just it’s perks — “It’s about the genuine relationships we’ve formed over the years and the family we’ve grown into over time.”
39. Make it easy to get to work
For some employees, the daily commute to and from the office is a huge burden. Offering commuter benefits reinforces the individual’s value to the company — if you were looking for “just anyone” to fill the role, you could have saved money by hiring someone with a shorter commute.
40. Support your employees’ personal milestones
Investing in the whole individual — not just the employee — helps promote a positive company culture where employees feel valued. Spreetail, an e-commerce company based in Austin, TX, makes personal milestones a part of their employee recognition program. If an employee purchases a home after two years at the company, Spreetail awards them a $5,000 bonus. To encourage charitable giving outside of the organization, Spreetail matches donations dollar-for-dollar — up to $1,000 — after an employee’s five-year anniversary.
41. Cap off the year in style
The end of the year isn’t just about closing out Q4 strong — it’s the chance to commemorate all that your team has accomplished. Use the opportunity to recognize achievements and the key players involved, and lead the company into the new year on a high note. Encourage the C-Suite to individually write letters to the full staff so they can share their favorite memories from the past year and their goals for the year ahead.
Wherever you choose to start, make sure your company culture strategy is clearly mapped out with opportunities for employees to provide feedback on the changes you’ve implemented. Company culture is not something you can fake or phone in — if you’re serious about making a change, use these ideas to get the ball rolling and start building a great company culture the whole team will be proud of.