Building Company Culture From Scratch: Everything You Need to Start

Most of us realize that company culture is important. It helps to shape the nature of the business, it helps retain employees, and it guides an organization to its future, for better or for worse. So how can you build a company culture entirely from scratch? And how can you make sure this culture is a good fit for your business and for your team?

What Is Company Culture?

Company culture is a set of standards, values, and aspects of identity tied to a specific company or brand. For example, your company culture may be laidback and focused on collaboration, encouraging employee autonomy and flexibility while simultaneously supporting an environment where people can work together efficiently.

There’s no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” company culture, though some aspects of some cultures may be considered toxic or counterproductive. Instead, company culture should be designed to encapsulate and support a company’s overall philosophy; because of this, what works for one company may not work for another, and merely copying someone else’s company culture is a bad idea.

Building and Maintaining Company Culture

What does it take to build and maintain company culture?

  •       Formal documentation. For starters, your company culture can’t exist ethereally in the atmosphere. If you want your employees to follow the pillars of your company culture, and you want people to respect your culture, you need to formally document it somehow. Writing it down helps to make it more real and more established, and it has the nice side effect of preventing company culture drift over time.
  •       Orientation and training. To maintain a company culture, it’s important to make smart hires. Only bring people onto the team if they’re a good culture fit, or could grow into becoming a culture fit. Additionally, it’s important to perfect the orientation and training process, so all your new employees get a chance to better understand your company values and how you expect them to be embodied. This is a critical opportunity to set expectations and give employees the resources they need to succeed.
  •       Environment and passive culture building. You can also shape your company culture passively, by shaping the environment. For example, through the use of digital signage software, You can display effective messaging about the brand, motivate your employees with specific slogans or catchphrases, and make the environment feel more cohesive and collaborative. You can also shape the culture by changing the layout, the décor, or the atmosphere of the office.
  •       Teambuilding and company events. You’ll also have a chance to build employee alignment with your company culture through teambuilding and company events. Any chance your employees have to interact with each other, especially if they’re not currently stressed with work responsibilities, is a chance for your team to grow closer.
  •       Leadership. The best way to align a team is to lead by example. In other words, you need to make sure the leadership within your organization is fully committed to embodying your core brand values. With solid leaders in place, employees will be much more likely to naturally follow.
  •       Guidance and discipline. If and when employees deviate from your company culture, take note. A simple private meeting or casual conversation could be all it takes to guide the employee back to a place of upholding and respecting company values.

Core Tenets of Your Company Culture

How do you determine the core tenets of your company culture?

  •       Mission and vision. Your company mission and vision statements are two related, yet distinct aspects of your company’s identity. They set the tone for your organization and explain its purpose.
  •       Core values. You’ll spend most of your time creating core values for your brand. What are the most important elements of work or team engagement that your employees need to follow? Look up the core values of brands you respect to get inspiration here.
  •       Formality, tone, and more. Company culture can also be described in terms of overall formality, tone, or atmosphere. For example, is this a polished and prestigious organization, or a laidback, informal one?

The Evolution Process

Finally, you should understand that your company culture is not meant to remain static and unchanging forever. Instead, it’s better to allow your company culture some degree of evolution. As you learn more about the company, get feedback from employees, and as your industry environment changes, it’s valuable to reassess the culture you created in the past and see if it requires any modification or improvement. Remaining adaptable is a prerequisite.

It’s not exactly easy to create a company culture from scratch, especially if you’ve never done this sort of thing before. But as long as you’re willing to put time and energy into the process proactively, you can end up with a company culture that brings you genuine pride.