5 Tips for Livening Up Your Company Culture Jonathan Herrick With many businesses in expansion mode, it’s not easy for smaller companies to compete successfully for the best employees. They usually can’t match the salary and benefits budgets of their biggest rivals. Fortunately, monetary compensation, while important, isn’t the only thing that matters to job seekers. Many want to be part of a great culture where they can really make a difference, both within the company and outside of it. In a recent survey, Deloitte found that among millennials, for instance, 52% rated culture as very important in considering a potential employer, second only to pay, named by 63%. Fortunately, it’s not hard to liven up your company culture. Here are five ways to do that. Pay attention to what matters to employees. Great company cultures double down on what their teams already enjoy doing, rather than assuming they’ll enjoy stereotypical “fun” activities. Instead of assuming that adding a ping-pong table or video game terminals to the break room will enhance your culture, pay attention the activities team members naturally gravitate to outside of work. If, for instance, you notice that a lot of your employees like to go to CrossFit or yoga, what they might truly appreciate is having an hour and a half lunch break once or twice a week so they have time to get to the gym and shower. Look for small excuses to celebrate. Many of us spend more time at work than at home and view our colleagues almost as an extended family. Finding reasons to honor your team and their key milestones, such as birthdays, can help bring everyone together. This takes some organization, so, to make sure you don’t forget about anyone, give someone on your team a fun honorary title, such as the SVP of Celebrations, and put them in charge of coming up with a date to celebrate for each employee. Ask this individual to come with entertaining and inexpensive ways to celebrate and set aside a small budget for this. Gestures like bringing in funny gag gifts for team members’ birthdays or cupcakes decorated according to a theme like superheroes can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to get creative. If birthdays seem too routine, have your celebrations guru monitor office chit-chat carefully for news of things like a 5k race a team member is running or an employee’s art opening at a local gallery. Make it photo ready. Consider investing in a small red carpet that you can roll out for special occasions, helping employees great Instagram-ready photos As a nice side benefit, those photos will help raise awareness of the great culture you’re building among your employees’ social media contacts, making it that much easier to attract great hires the next time you need to recruit. Alleviate digital distraction. While sharing on social media can be fun, there’s no doubt that tech can be distracting, too, and keep us from interacting with the people around us. There’s nothing more boring or alienating than sitting in a room full of people whose eyes are glued to their phones. To inspire your team to actually have a conversation with their colleagues, try setting aside certain hours of the week when no one is expected to respond to emails or texts. Even a few hours of freedom a week will make a difference in everyone’s quality of life, enabling them to not only get serious work done but make an occasional trip to the water cooler for some chit-chat. Make room for employees’ families. For those trying to balance busy careers with raising children, even the most exciting culture-building activities can create a lot of stress by cutting into family time. If evenings or weekends are the only time you can fit in an extracurricular celebration, invite employees to bring their mates and children. It may cost you a bit more but it’ll underline that you truly have a family-friendly culture. And whatever you spend will likely be far less than what it costs to replace a great employee who feels they have to leave your company because, after having a child, they no longer fit into the culture. Besides that, it’s hard for anyone to be deadly serious or uptight when there are kids in the room. They could be just the people you need to bring everyone together.