Company culture is one of the most powerful influences driving business today. Culture, defined by Merriam-Webster as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”, is the backbone of any company and can either propel it to greatness or lead it to its demise. Culture is a people thing, not a company thing, and it’s no wonder why we’re here to talk about the influence startups have on the matter.
Despite being a completely remote company, in 2017 Peerfit was nominated as a “Best Place to Work” in Tampa Bay. This isn’t achieved by a few close colleagues but, rather, by the collective efforts of every single person on the team. Each person that works at Peerfit brings their own magic, grit, and startup hustle to our culture. While working for startups versus long-standing corporations might require different skill-sets, the need to have the right people on the team remains the same for each.
Those people should fit the mold of and help protect the company’s culture - a concept that applies to everyone, from the longest tenured employee to the newest hire. With many startups quickly climbing the ladder of corporate greatness, large corporations should take note on what startups are doing to attract and keep top talent.
So, what culture tips can large corporations learn from startups?
Work hard... but play hard, too.
If you’re looking for an article about startups that doesn’t mention “fun”, you might as well stop searching. Perhaps it’s the nature of the business, or maybe it’s the people that they attract, but startup culture is almost synonymous with adding an element of fun to the mix. We’ve created this false stigma that work in corporate America should be boring, dull, monotonous, tedious… the list could go on. To many, professionalism means removing any flare and behaving within certain parameters around one’s peers. Startups shatter that misconception.
At Peerfit, we know that hard work is important (we wouldn’t be where we are today without the tireless hours put in by our team members) but we also know the importance of humor, laughter, and (professional) playfulness.
How have we achieved that? For starters, we aren’t afraid to have a little fun. During office hours we communicate vastly via giphy and funny memes to lighten the mood, laugh at blunders, and even welcome a new coworker to the team. We get together regularly outside of the office for some peer-to-peer facetime and team events, where employees (including senior leadership) are encouraged to build relationships beyond “just colleagues”. In strengthening those bonds outside of work, we become a stronger unit for the company, our clients, and our co-workers.
Offer workplace flexibility.
Working from home, extended lunch breaks, unlimited vacation days… these are only a few of the ways startups bring flexibility to work. Allowing room for workplace flexibility increases employee morale and enables them to find what works for them.
Telecommuters work from locations that are convenient and enjoyable, they stress less about their daily commute, and they experience a boost in productivity. Nowadays, most daily functions take place online or via email and many employees have around-the-clock access to their “office” with the click of a button. Incorporating this work perk, even if only once a week, helps companies foster a culture that fits the lives of their employees, not the other way around.
At Peerfit, we give our employees the gift of flexible fitness by taking advantage of our own product. Peerfit is a digital platform that enables employers to pay for their employees' fitness classes (like boot camp, yoga, and more) at studios they love. Employees can take classes wherever and whenever they choose. Combine this with our flexible office hours and you get employees that are healthier, happier, and more productive.
Trust yields autonomy yields respect.
Speaking of empowering employees to choose how they spend their hours on the clock, let’s talk about trust in the workplace. Creative thinking and personal ownership are at the forefront of startup cultures, giving startups an advantage over corporations with firm policies, guidelines, and requirements for daily work.
While it’s important to have structure, managers in large corporations should trust that they’ve equipped their employees with the tools, resources, and knowledge to do their job without being micromanaged or checked up on every hour. In return, employees demonstrate a greater sense of respect towards their employers and value the company’s time as their own. Not to mention, they experience another boost in employee morale.
Regardless of where a corporation’s culture stands today, it’s always the right time to transform into a culture that will help elevate the company to greatness. An article by Gallup states that “‘satisfied’ employees can be found in both lousy and good cultures [but] satisfied employees don't provide innovation or entrepreneurism”. Satisfied employees yield good work, but engaged employees yield great work. To create a culture of engaged employees, large corporations can and should look to the culture within startups as a true hub for innovation and entrepreneurism.