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Category: Brand · 5 min read

How to Create a Good Workplace Culture

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on May 30, 2019

author profile photo

on May 30, 2019

Co-workers talking in their office

Let’s talk about company culture. Have you thought about what kind of culture your office has?  

Your culture says a lot about what you value as a company. Take Amazon for instance. They’ve been in hot water multiple times for their harsh work culture, which includes a work-life balance that tips strongly in the favor of work and some strict labor conditions.1 Their culture seems to say that they don’t value their employees. At one point, the average employee only stayed for about a year.2 

Now let’s go to the other end of the culture spectrum. Zappos is a clear standout when it comes to how they treat their employees and put emphasis on their culture. In fact, they vet candidates by whether or not they would fit culturally.3 They have set values that they place major emphasis on, and also provide lunches, no-cost vending machines, a nap room, and they don’t charge for health care. This led to a turnover rate of only 39 percent in their call center, in a year where the call center turnover average was 150 percent.4  

Based on both of these companies, it’s clear that it’s important to put a strong emphasis on your workplace culture and what you want it to be like.  

Simply put, culture is how your values and attitudes come to life in your business. It’s even how you behave, what you say, and the actions you take, and it’s what makes your business different.  

Whether you’re a financial professional or an agency, the act of thinking about and establishing your company values can be vital to your success and can help you get clarity on your business operations.  

So, how do you make your workplace culture better? Try these tips.  

Culture is how your values and attitudes come to life in your business. It’s even how you behave, what you say, and the actions you take, and it’s what makes your business different.

1. Identify Your Values and How You Will Live Them Out 

Whether or not we realize it, we all operate under a set of values. They guide how we work and how we act. They define who we are and we stand for. They’re professional and moral principles.  

Zappos’ 10 values are a good example to follow:3  

  • Deliver WOW Through Service 
  • Embrace and Drive Change 
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness 
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded 
  • Pursue Growth and Learning 
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication 
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit 
  • Do More With Less 
  • Be Passionate and Determined 
  • Be Humble 

What are your values? What are the principles that you work by? Write them out and give them descriptions. Print them out and put them somewhere everyone can see them on a regular basis, and abide by them. Make a point to stick to your values, no matter the situation. And if you have employees, make it apparent that you expect them to adopt these values, as well. It can even be beneficial to explain to your clients your values, and let them know that that’s how you’ll treat them, too. 

 

2. Host Monthly or Weekly Events or Parties 

Creating a better culture doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, all it takes is an office party. This could be holiday celebrations (like cinco de mayo), national day events (like national cookie day), or even just a monthly party. It doesn’t have to be grand or fancy. Just doing something is better than nothing, and small, but regular events like this can boost your workplace culture over time. 

One thing that I’ve made sure to do is participate in these kinds of events. For example, recently, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone. Another time, our management team flipped pancakes and served them to all of our employees. It’s a simple way to show that you appreciate your employees, and want to give back a little bit to them. Plus, it’s an opportunity to practice humility and lead your employees by serving. I think that makes a big difference.  

This also goes for client appreciation events, too. Showing them that you care about them and are thankful for their business can help keep your client relationships strong. 

 

3. Recognize and Reward People on a Regular Basis 

Everyone likes to be recognized, and it’s one of the best ways to show your employees that you value them. Even a small shout-out or encouragement can make more of an impact than you may realize, like a handwritten note or a handshake. Or, if you want to tell a wider audience about how great your employees are, post about them on social media (with their permission, of course).  

At the same time, it’s important to reward your employees. This could be a gift, a raise, or a bonus. Free food or happy hour works, too! In fact, non-cash incentives and rewards may be even better for morale and workplace culture. One thing we do here at Brokers International is a “chip” program, called All-In, where employees are given chips as rewards or recognition of good work, and can put their chips into a prize drawing each month. It’s a fun way to reward hard work and keep employees engaged.  

Another way to show them appreciation is to provide training opportunities for them to improve themselves. This kind of professional development not only helps them grow, but can help them provide even more value to your business.  

Whatever you choose to do, the key point is to not forget about those who work hard for you.  

 

4. Send Out Weekly Emails 

People like to be kept in the loop. They like to be updated on what’s going on, and not left in the dark. One way to do this effectively is to send out weekly email updates on the latest happenings. You don’t have to reveal anything major or groundbreaking every time. Progress reports, achievements, and goals all are great things to include, too.  

The same goes for your clients. A weekly (or monthly) newsletter can be a good way to stay in touch with them and let them know what you have going on and how you could help them.  

 

5. Provide Productivity or Collaborative Tools or Apps 

If you have employees, have they asked for any specific apps or tools to help make their job easier or more efficient? Really consider getting it for them. Or, when it makes sense, purchase office productivity and collaboration tools anyway, and provide access to your employees. New technologies can help your employees accomplish their day-to-day tasks, and then have more time to work on your key business initiatives.  

 

6. Watch What You Say and Promote 

They’re listening, whether you realize it or not. Your clients, your employees, your social media followers, or your business partners. They hear you. So, be cognizant of what you say, do, and promote. It does matter.  

This is where operating by your values and principles becomes important. It shows that you mean what you say, and you are authentic. You’re the real deal, so prove it to them. A leader that is caring, encouraging, ethically sound, and motivating is respected and appreciated. Be that leader, and your culture will benefit from you. 

 

7. Re-Evaluate Your Practices, Policies, and Philosophies 

When was the last time you updated your business practices, policies, and philosophies? For many, they create them when they start their business, and then leave them be. But things change quickly. Employee preferences shift and best business practices evolve.

So, take another look at your current practices and policies. Is there anything that’s outdated and could be changed to better serve your employees, clients, or yourself? If so, don’t be afraid to change it. Areas like flexible schedules, remote work capabilities, and unlimited paid time off are a few examples of ways that companies are re-evaluating to adapt to evolving employee wants. 

A leader that is caring, encouraging, ethically sound, and motivating is respected and appreciated. Be that leader, and your culture will benefit from you.

The bottom line is that improving your workplace culture starts with you. It has to start at the top and has to be an intentional effort to change your office environment for the better. What do you need to change?  

 

Sources: 

1. Demers, Jayson. “Amazon’s Allegedly Harsh Work Culture Has Made Headlines: Here’s What You Can Learn.” Entrepreneur. May 7, 2018. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/312942 

2. Johnson, Tim. “The Real Problem With Tech Professionals: High Turnover.” Forbes. Jun. 29, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2018/06/29/the-real-problem-with-tech-professionals-high-turnover/#1e8123b84201 

3. Verasai, Anna. “What is the Internal Culture like at Zappos?” The HR Digest. Mar. 19, 2018. https://www.thehrdigest.com/what-is-the-internal-culture-like-at-zappos/ 

4. Inc. “Uncommon Service: The Zappos Case Study.” https://www.inc.com/inc-advisor/zappos-managing-people-uncommon-service.html

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Written By

Mark Williams

President and CEO

Mark Williams is the President/CEO of Brokers International. Over his more than 25 years of financial services experience, Mark has been both a producing independent agent in the field and a home office leader consulting to agencies and field marketing organizations. Currently, Mark is focused on the future of the insurance industry, from the disruptions of InsurTech and robo-advisors to the changing demographics and needs of customers. He also is an avid mentor, helping financial professionals navigate the industry.

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