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From ping pong tables to vegetable patches: The importance of building a great office culture

Companies today are pulling out all the stops to attract and retain the most talented people. If you look at any Silicon Valley office building, or the booming tech startups, you’ll probably find ping pong tables, lounge rooms with comfortable sofas, free beer on Fridays, and maybe even outdoor gardens for employees to cultivate their own vegetables patches when they need a screen break. Office culture is increasingly important to employees and customers alike and it’s a vital foundation for building a successful business, but you don’t need to go this far. By simply assessing what matters most to your employees, providing a sense of well-being, and creating policies that promote positive interactions, you can effectively build a strong culture in your workplace. However, what works for one company, may not work for another, so it’s important to determine your core values at an early stage and ensure those values are always kept at heart of your business. I see a lot of companies who only have one purpose; maximise profit, invest and grow. Equally, a lot of people see their job as conveying the same purpose; earn money and get promoted. There is no passion at the heart of this and the integrity is lost. If your only purpose is to make money you forget about the bigger picture: how are you going to make a positive difference in people’s lives, build loyalty to your brand, trust from your employees or clients, and make your workplace somewhere people feel they can thrive? Of course it’s crucial to have your figures in order and to ensure that your business is moving in an upward trajectory, but if money is the only end goal, it’s going to be a long and hard road getting there. A lack of appropriate workplace culture creates a high staff turnover, challenges in recruiting or retaining the right people, and a poor industry reputation. I frequently meet candidates who claim that they feel like another “cog in the wheel,” over-worked, uninspired, spread too thinly across accounts, not challenged, not supported and, most commonly, lacking progression. People seek a working environment where they can have ownership of their role and feel that they are part of something that is bigger than themselves or the business. People want to feel valued, they want to feel that they are growing professionally, and they want to feel inspired. If your employees feel that they’re valued, progressing and inspired, this will filter down to clients and customers too. Building the right culture in your office should start at the top: what sort of business would you want to work in? How are you going to show your staff and customers that they are valued? What difference will you make in someone’s life? Culture isn’t not something that you can copy; it’s something that you have to build. Listen to your staff, identify what’s important to them, and recruit people who share the company values. If you get the culture right, everything else will come naturally. It should remain at the heart of your business. It should reflect who you are and why your clients choose you. In turn, it will lead you to being a more successful business without ever needing to install a single ping pong table. Need help? If you need help with your hiring and retention strategy, give us a call. Our consultants are specialist, industry- savvy professionals who know their fields inside-out. We can help you identify what and who you need, and we have the contacts to source the best-fitting candidates.

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