Growing a company is a great adventure - it’s exhilarating, fun, and at times, pretty stressful. But, when all your plans come to fruition, it’s a great feeling to know that all the blood, sweat and tears were for a reason.
Regardless of your company’s growth success or plan, one thing can easily fall down the list of priorities - team culture. As a company grows, especially if it grows quickly, focus shifts to employing more staff, investing in tools and resources and keeping financials on track. Many leaders assume that team culture will just ‘happen’ or ‘remain’. But that’s not the case, it takes consistent effort and evolving strategies.
simPRO is a great example of a company that has undergone rapid growth. It has grown from a small office in Brisbane, Australia, to a global company with more than 400 staff. And although this growth has presented challenges at times, the company’s dedication to continuous improvement and its employee-led culture has enabled the team to thrive. It’s this dedication to employee culture based on an authentically-lived set of values that drew me to joining simPRO this year. I’m thrilled to be able to join the company and lead these cultural strategies as it continues to evolve.
Throughout my career I’ve seen how important it is to maintain company culture during growth phases. Here’s what I’ve learned.
What is Team Culture and Why Does it Matter?
First thing’s first - culture is not just ping pong tables and bean bags - although they are great to have and we love our ping pong tables here at simPRO! Culture is not the objects around the office, it’s created by the people in your company. Recognising what team culture is and why it matters is the first step in ensuring your company has a great culture.
A company with a good culture has an environment of transparency, collaboration, communication, efficiency, autonomy and trust. This environment and level of trust creates engaged staff, builds confidence within your team and instills them with the spirit to work efficiently and in ways which will benefit the company as a whole. Why is this important? Because it positively impacts your company. In fact, a Deloitte study found that 94% of executives believe a positive corporate culture is key to a company’s success.
Benefits of a Strong Team Culture
Strong workplace culture has a positive effect on the engagement of staff. For example, if your staff are working in a supportive environment, they are likely to be more engaged and loyal. This boosted engagement then supports productivity. But don’t just take my word for it, research by Oxford University's Saïd Business School has found that happy workers are 13% more productive. That can make a big difference in a business.
A recent survey from FlexJobs found that nearly one-third of employees are quitting their jobs due to toxic culture. This increased turnover not only impacts workplace culture and reduces motivation of current staff, it also increases the amount of money needed to support recruitment and training. A positive culture helps to prevent turnover and increases staff retention.
Enables employee development
With company growth comes opportunities for your staff to upskill and develop their experience without leaving your team. This not only helps you retain great staff but it also reinforces company culture. At simPRO, we’ve had the opportunity to employ incredible people. A large proportion of our staff have been employed with us for many years. They have also developed and excelled in their chosen field during this time which has provided more opportunities for growth into new roles within the company. This not only is great for their career, it also benefits us as a company in being able to retain great talent.
Improves hiring process
As an employer, especially during The Great Resignation, it’s important to retain staff and hire the right people for the job. Investing in your culture allows you to build an environment which attracts the talent so you can more easily bring new talent onto your team.
How Can You Develop a Great Team Culture?
Get clear on team values
At simPRO, we live and breathe our mission statement and values.At our regular Town Halls and Fireside Chats, which are led by our executive team, we shape our goals, learnings and success through our mission and values.
These values are:
- We are one team
- We own it
- We innovate
- We care
- We have fun
As a leadership team we also ensure we embody these values to show staff we hold ourselves to the same standard as everyone in the company. This reiteration of values and mission helps to focus everything we do as a company and supports the development of team culture throughout our growth.
Develop a good feedback system
Transparency is key here at simPRO. Myself and the entire leadership team knows that to create great culture, we need to be honest and open. This allows our staff to feel comfortable approaching us, no matter the situation - whether that be if they need support or have a brilliant idea they want to pitch. It also opens the door for staff to provide feedback on our leadership and how we can continue developing the culture as simPRO grows.
Invest in team-building
How can you create a team culture without putting in the work? You can’t. Team-building can look different in each team and in each company. And, with the addition of remote working there are even more obstacles to overcome. However, putting in the time to invest in team-building activities is key to creating a good culture in your company.
At simPRO our team-building differs in different regions and at different times. Sometimes we get together after work for a team activity or a catered event. Other times we celebrate special occasions such as International Women's Day and Diwali. Team building is about spending time together, getting to know one another and working out how best we each work together. In the age of remote working, this could involve catching up IRL outings with your team, hosting virtual games or coffee catch ups. Once you start running team-building activities, you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t for your unique team.
Invest in your staff
It’s not always easy for your employees to stick by your company as it grows. It can be difficult-there’s a lot of change and a lot of new processes. But, their belief in the success of your business is often what can keep the business moving forward. So, it’s important to recognise all the hard work they’ve put in along the way as well. A lot of big companies forget the personal touch during and after growth. However, it’s important to recognise your staff, whether this be through celebrating anniversaries or even providing a range of benefits to allow your staff to have more work/life balance.
At simPRO, we not only celebrate the big things, we celebrate the small as well. Sharing positive outcomes and providing shoutouts company-wide through our global chat. We have also recently implemented a four-day work week trial called Flex4. This is a 32 hour workweek, with the same salary and the same annual leave as a five-day workweek. Why? Because we’re proud of our staff and how they’ve helped us build simPRO from the ground up. Providing them with more opportunity to spend time with their families or enjoy some downtime to recalibrate, creates a culture of mutual respect in our business. And when our staff are happy, we’re happy and so are our customers.
Creating culture in a rapidly growing company isn’t easy. Many companies get caught-up in the scurry of growth and easily forget the many important aspects of maintaining team culture. But, if you start small and stay consistent to the values of your company, with a focus on culture as you grow, you, your staff, your business and your customers will reap the rewards.