How to Improve Company Culture in 984 Words

Abby Haralson

I’m not a big business and leadership book person but my husband is. We have a full floor-to-ceiling bookcase of strategies from Wiseman, Covey, Brown, Sinek—if they’ve talked business, it’s there. And I love hearing about the things my husband learns from them. Dale Carnegie—if you’re reading this from the afterlife, Brad Haralson is your biggest fan.

But I’ve learned a lot about business and culture a different way: by working at Lemonade Stand. I’ve learned from amazing things we’re doing and ways we could improve. If you’re trying to improve company culture, you’ll find answers in this blog (which I’m going to try to keep short and sweet considering we all have lots of business books to read).

The Company Culture Elevator Pitch

Company culture is the shared beliefs and behaviors that shape how employees interact and work together. It influences everything from employee satisfaction to client retention. 

The founder of Lemonade Stand, Greg Trimble, suggests that instead of asking, “How’s our company culture?” you ask, “How’s our client retention?” That question is a snapshot into how culture impacts revenue and why you might want to improve it. 

Why Worry About It?

If you’re not actively improving company culture, most people go to a default: clock in and clock out, do what’s expected of me and get home. I sometimes default to that even at a company that talks about culture all the time! 

On the other hand, a well-designed company culture drives engagement, innovation, and loyalty. Although execution is tough, the benefit behind company culture is simple: happy and engaged employees + satisfied customers = more revenue. And for the right executives, more revenue = better paid, happier employees, and a bigger impact on the community.

Five Ways to Improve Company Culture

Whether you’re trying to improve company culture or you’re starting from scratch, these five observations from my time at Lemonade Stand should help! They’re from the lens of an employee, rather than an executive, which might give you insight into how your employees feel too.

Just a quick note: If you need ideas on how to develop core values, our founder has a lot to say on the subject and shares resources regularly! Core values are the foundation for improving company culture so if you’re unsure about the strength of your values, this blog will help!

Take a Good Look at Bad Habits

The client retention question is a good place to start. Do your clients or customers like interacting with your company? Do they send you referrals? Identify customer touch points and analyze how effective they are. 

Look beyond “customer service.” Your employees can be kind but if they’re not delivering on time or collaborating well with clients, there’s a culture puzzle piece that’s missing.

Work backwards by thinking about what your team is currently doing that your clients or customers don’t want. You can then create culture initiatives around these problems and improve company culture.

Do What You Say, Say What You Mean

Everything works from the top down. Leaders should never ask employees to do things that leaders aren’t willing to do themselves. At Lemonade Stand, this looks like our exec team sharing how they serve people in the community. For me, it looks like not asking the content team I work with to improve their writing when I won’t work on my skills. 

Honor That Tricky Work-Life Balance

The majority of employees are working to support the other 8–12 waking hours of their life, not because accounting or digital marketing or tree trimming is their passion. Respect their time and priorities by only expecting employees to work between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time.

Encourage employees to take vacations throughout the year and make sure they know their work will be taken care of while they’re gone. If employees are working unreasonable hours, you either have processes that need work, you’re part of a startup, or you chose investment banking. Most of us fall into the first category.

Operationalize Your Core Values

This is my favorite way to improve company culture because it’s the most fun! Employees get more focused on fulfillment than words on a company “About Us” page. If you can find ways to operationalize your core values, your employees will have actionable ways to live them.

For Lemonade Stand, it’s Build Then Bless. That phrase is the Lemonade Stand mission but it’s also the $50 each employee gets every month to serve someone in their community and the 15 or so minutes we take each week to share our experiences. Our core values of listening, serving others, and paying attention to detail are “operationalized” in Build Then Bless.

Get with your team and brainstorm ways you can create systems and action around your core values. And if your company values kindness, service, and giving, steal Lemonade Stand’s idea! We’ve built Build Then Bless into a culture operating software that turns so many of the strategies talked about in business books into real-life application.

Accept Employee Feedback

Consistently ask for feedback and give opportunities for live and anonymous feedback. Then create trust and loyalty by transparently making changes. If the employee gives you the go ahead, share with the rest of the team what changes were made based on their feedback. This creates a culture of open communication and shows that the company values its employees’ opinions.

I’m getting close to 1,000 words here, so I should wrap it up. As an employee who’s been spoiled by the culture at my first corporate job, I’m basically trapped here forever! I’m not sure I want to take a chance on another company knowing how good I’ve got it here. If you’re an executive, Build Then Bless can help you create the same feeling in your employees.

Schedule a demo and find out how.

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