I’ve been thinking a lot about company culture over the past few months and just how incredibly important it is. A company with a poisonous culture of distrust and disrespect results in high staff turnover and, in some cases, the very public outing of internal controversies, causing immeasurable damage to a company’s image.
Almost every day I receive a press release on a new survey or other that tells of how dire the tech talent pool is in the UK. So if you’re lucky to hire excellent members of staff, you really need to make employee retention one of your top priorities. However, that doesn’t mean hanging on to staff members, regardless of how good they are, if they’re behaving inappropriately. You may be loath to lose the talent, but keeping someone who makes the lives of your other employees a misery will create a toxic working environment and ultimately damage your firm’s progress and success.
Over the years there have been some absolute car crash cases of high-profile tech companies and their whopping HR failures, all played out in the media for one and all to see. Take Uber – this year the firm has at the centre of allegations of sexism and sexual harassment, which resulted in resignations, including that of president Jeff Jones who claimed his “beliefs and approach to leadership” were so opposed to those that prevailed at Uber he just couldn’t continue with his role at the company.
High-growth tech companies often struggle with HR and company culture – they begin life with few team members, quickly snowballing into a beast that’s completely unrecognisable from as little as six months previously. Managing this transition from fresh-faced, scrappy startup to established, high-headcount company can be difficult, but making your staff happy should sit high on your list of priorities during this time, and at all times.
Because that’s the key: happiness. Happy staff are productive staff and staff that will remain loyal.
Communication is the cornerstone of positive company culture. Communicate your company’s core purpose and values and make sure all staff members are in tune with this. Communicate your grievance procedures and encourage the reporting of inappropriate behaviour. Communicate your employees’ KPIs and targets and let them communicate to you whether or not they’re getting everything they hoped from their role. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
The ins and outs of creating a positive company culture extend way beyond the confines of this page’s word count, but just spend some time researching and thinking about it – are you happy? Are your employees happy? And if not, what can you do about it?
This article first appeared on edition 14 of Tech City News’ print magazine – The Virtual Reality Issue. Buy your copy here.