Remember the early 2000s, when companies across the country were trying to replicate Apple and Google? Install a ping pong table and designate a space for napping, offer catered lunches, and poof, you have a great workplace culture, right? Wrong. For a while, the sheer novelty of over-the-top worksites was a great way to attract workers. But when the world suddenly shut down and everyone moved to remote work, it became clear that workplace culture isn’t really defined by toys and food. In today’s tight labor market, it’s time to reassess what workplace culture really means.
Why Company Culture is More Than a Ping Pong Table
What Is Workplace Culture?
Let’s start with a basic definition. Workplace culture can be loosely defined as the set of attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors that create the day-to-day worker experience. Ping-pong tables could be part of it, if having fun is part of your workplace culture. But they aren’t enough on their own.
Arguably the most important aspect of workplace culture is a set of shared values. Honesty, openness, transparency, and a can-do attitude are just a few of the values that can create an excellent workplace. If you’re not sure where to start, try implementing these basic policies:
- Communication. This includes active listening, open feedback channels, and more.
- Caring. If you care about your employees, they’ll care about their customers. Get to know them as people and address their individual concerns.
- Responsiveness. When someone has a problem, figure out how to help. This is equally true when a customer complains about a broken item or an employee discloses a health issue.
- Adaptability. Get rid of the idea that things must be done as they always have been. Be willing to incorporate new ways of thinking, including suggestions from your employees.
Sense of Community
What the ping pong tables and all the rest really represented was a sense of community at work. The ability to work in teams, as well to collaborate across departments, is just as important as ever. But outside trappings don’t build real community. That only comes from communication, authenticity, and encourage your workers to be themselves. Taking your team out to lunch, celebrating birthdays, and sending genuine notes of thanks can all help build a genuine community within the workplace.