Building a Company Culture from Scratch: Examples and Best Practices

Published on
Mar 22, 2024
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Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, behaviors, and customs that shape an organization. It is the personality of a company and can play a significant role in the success of a growing organization or startup. A strong company culture can attract and retain top talent, improve employee engagement, and drive innovation. Let's explore some examples of good company culture, review examples of effective cultural values, and discuss how to implement and grow a company culture from scratch.

Good Examples of Company Culture

Each of these companies is known for having a strong and unique culture that aligns with their mission and goals. They are examples of how a positive and well-defined culture can attract and retain top talent, improve employee engagement, and drive innovation. These companies have set themselves apart in their respective industries by creating a culture that is not only good for the employees but also for the customers and the community.

  • Google: Known for its innovative and inclusive culture, Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible. The company values its employees' well-being and encourages them to explore new ideas and take risks.
  • Zappos: The shoe retailer is known for its fun and quirky culture, which is centered around the company's core values of delivering wow through service, embracing and driving change, creating fun and a little weirdness, being adventurous, open and transparent, and pursuing growth and learning.
  • Patagonia: The outdoor clothing company is committed to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Patagonia's culture is built on the values of using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • The Container Store: Prioritizes the happiness and development of its employees, the company’s culture is centered around the core values of respect, integrity, communication, and excellence.
  • Starbucks: A culture centered on a mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time. Starbucks values include creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
  • Netflix: Known for its flat, no-rules culture that is all about freedom and responsibility. The company values judgment, communication, curiosity, innovation, inclusion, and impact.
  • Airbnb: The company culture is built around the values of being a host, being a guest, and belonging anywhere. Airbnb believes in creating a sense of belonging, both in terms of the guests who stay in their properties and the hosts who open their homes to them.
  • Salesforce: The company culture is built around the values of trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. Salesforce values its employees' opinions and encourages them to share their ideas and feedback.
  • HubSpot: Built on the culture code, which is a set of values and behaviors that the company believes are necessary to create a successful inbound culture. The company values include being authentic, daring, humble, and transparent.
  • Etsy: The company culture is built around the values of creativity, community, and craftsmanship. Etsy values its employees' individuality and encourages them to bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table.

Choosing Initial Cultural Values

When building a company culture from scratch, it's essential to choose a set of values that align with the company's mission and goals. Examples of effective cultural values include:

  • Transparency: Being open and honest with employees, customers, and stakeholders.
  • Accountability: Holding individuals and teams responsible for their actions and decisions.
  • Inclusivity: Creating a diverse and inclusive environment (perhaps including DEI initiatives) where everyone feels valued and respected.
  • Innovation: Encouraging creativity and experimentation to drive new ideas and solutions.
  • Empowerment: Giving employees the autonomy to make decisions and take ownership of their work.
  • Collaboration: Fostering a team-oriented environment where individuals work together to achieve common goals.
  • Customer-centric: Focusing on understanding and meeting the needs of customers.
  • Continuous improvement: Encouraging employees to continuously learn and grow.
  • Adaptability: Being open to change and able to pivot when needed.
  • Trust: Creating an environment where employees trust their colleagues and management.

Implementing and Growing the Company Culture

Once the initial cultural values have been established, it's essential to implement them throughout the organization.

Communicating Values

One of the first steps is to clearly communicate the cultural values to employees and ensure that they understand what is expected of them. This can be done through regular meetings, company-wide emails, or an employee handbook that outlines the culture and values.

Engage With Employees

Creating opportunities for employee engagement and feedback is also crucial in building and maintaining a positive company culture. This can be done through employee surveys, focus groups, or regular check-ins with employees. Giving employees a voice and allowing them to contribute to the culture can help them feel valued and invested in the company's success.

Culture Starts With Hiring

It's also important to incorporate the cultural values into the hiring and performance management process. This means using the cultural values as a guide for evaluating job candidates and employee performance. This ensures that new hires align with the company's culture and helps to maintain it over time.

Reinforce Values and Be Open to Change

Regularly reinforcing and evolving the culture is crucial in maintaining a positive company culture. This can be done through employee recognition, team-building activities, and ongoing communication. Regular check-ins and evaluations can also help to identify areas that need improvement and adjust the culture accordingly.

Build Your Own Company Culture

Building a company culture from scratch is essential for the success of a growing business. Culture not only plays into employee engagement and driving innovation but it can also set the company apart from others. The examples of successful companies discussed in this article, showcase the importance of having a well-defined culture that aligns with the company's mission and goals. Remember, a culture is a living and breathing thing and should be adapted and evolve as the company grows. It's important to be open to feedback and adjustments to ensure that the culture remains aligned with the company's direction as it changes and matures with its team.

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