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How to Build and Evolve Your Company Culture

Laura Quiambao

Laura Quiambao
Content Marketing, Clari

How to Build and Evolve Your Company Culture

Recently Clari was named one of Bay Area’s Top Workplaces for the sixth year in a row.

That’s not an easy task when growing a company from 30 to 300—or 3,000—employees. Culture evolves.

So the question isn’t, what did we do to land on a best of list. The question is: How do you build a company culture that evolves with your company as it scales?

The answers are key to a successful company.

According to Gallup, the best cultures attract the top 20% in a given talent pool. They also found that employees who strongly connect with their organization's culture consistently outperform benchmarks. By focusing on creating an engaged workforce, companies can enjoy distinct business outcomes, including:

  • 10% higher customer ratings
  • 17% higher productivity
  • 20% higher sales
  • 21% higher profitability

Returns like that are well worth the investment, whether you’re a high growth company or a global enterprise. However, fostering workplace culture has never been more complex. Today, employees are largely working outside the office and everyone is adjusting to massively disruptive macro economic and environmental changes.

Laura MacKinnon, Clari’s Chief People Officer, shares six key ways to build, retain, and evolve your company culture as your organization scales.

3 Ways to Build a Foundation For a Remarkable Culture

1. Set core company values and incorporate them into everyday work life

Too many companies choose values, paste them on the wall, then ignore them. Gallup research reveals that less than half of U.S. employees (41%) strongly agree that they know what their organization stands for and what makes it different from its competitors.

If employees don’t know your company's core vision, how can they truly align in the right direction for sustainable growth?

“Here at Clari, our core values provide a compass that keeps the entire organization aligned toward a singular goal as we grow—despite being in different departments or physically apart due to COVID-19,” MacKinnon says.

“Our core values are brought up in almost every company-wide meeting. They’re baked into a program where employees can publicly recognize their peers who demonstrate the behaviors associated with Clari’s values. Our values are incorporated into everyday meetings, conversations, and Zoom backgrounds.

“Bringing these values into our everyday work lives we are able to naturally align to our organization’s vision. We also build teams that strive to embody these core values which are the groundwork for fostering our culture.”

2. Lead with authenticity, integrity, and transparency

Both employers and employees know that the macro-economic environment is turbulent. Working from home in a pandemic can create high pressure and isolation. Now, more than ever, an authentic and transparent work environment is critical to helping team members remain focused on their work and productive.

As company scales, communication channels can become more complex and what used to be easily shared among a small team, can become a monumental task across growing departments.

“A lack of information leaves employees to fill in the gaps themselves which can cause confusion, anxiety, and decreased productivity,” MacKinnon says. “Today’s employees are looking to work in authentic cultures where leadership understands that team members are balancing multifaceted lives.”

Take COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matters movement,

“Clari’s leadership team held a number of meetings with an open door policy to ensure teams had a safe space to talk and ask questions. We continue to hold weekly all-employee meetings, as well as weekly ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions with our leadership.”

Here are a few ways to foster an authentic, transparent culture especially during these times:

  • Communicate a non-judgemental environment for kids or pets interrupting meetings and for employees wanting to leave their cameras off for personal reasons.
  • Provide fun, custom Zoom backgrounds for employees to use during meetings.
  • Provide virtual culture events around mindfulness, wellness, exercise, and fun—empowering team members to learn helpful habits to improve their personal life.
  • Many team members are reluctant to take time off since many vacation options are not possible right now. Ensure that managers are both encouraging and modeling work-life balance by taking time off themselves.
  • Create opportunities for water-cooler type gatherings. Our team uses an automated program to pair two employees for coffee every few weeks, and we host weekly cross-department virtual group lunches.
  • Provide support for parents, and determine where your company can offer more flexibility.

3. Recognize employee achievements and contributions

When a company is smaller and everyone knows one another, praise happens a lot more organically because we can see the hard work our peers are putting into their projects. In the office, there are more opportunities to learn about what other teams are working on. As companies scale and employ more remote workers, organizations need strategies to find ways to foster opportunities for recognition.

“Part of what makes our team so strong is how we recognize team members for their collaboration and hard work,” MacKinnon says, “It’s all about finding little ways to empower employees to give each other praise, and creating an environment where giving praise is encouraged.”

4. Build hiring and promotional practices with equality and inclusion

While a company is small, it’s fairly easy to maintain a tight-knit culture—especially if new employees are referrals. However, as the company scales and your culture evolves, thoughtful hiring practices can become the secret sauce to faster innovation and growth. The secret ingredient in that sauce? Diversity.

"We know that diversity isn't just about your recruiting pipeline,” MacKinnon says. “It's about all of your processes and programs. Hiring diverse talent and forgetting about inclusion is a losing formula. Your company culture, values, promotional paths, transfer opportunities, rewards, and recognition all have to be aligned with diversity in mind.”

5. Create opportunities for social networking and promote on social networks

Any employee who has been on a hyper growth team knows, it can feel like there are new people in the office—or on the Zoom call—every day. While the growth is thrilling, leaders need to facilitate foundations that help the culture evolve with the company by keeping employees connected.

In the past, happy hours and in-office events helped employees network organically. The move to remote work has made all that a little more challenging.

“This year, our social events look quite different,” MacKinnon says. “We have had to get very thoughtful about the events we facilitate and the ways we help employees stay connected.

“We’ve focused our events around physical and mental health, wellness, physical and financial fitness, and work effectiveness tips to help our employees and their families thrive. We’ve done yoga, fitness workouts, a steps competition, meditation, and so much more.

“We noticed Zoom happy hours needed a little more structure, so we did a beer, cheese, and chocolate tasting. It was a hit! Being able to send physical supplies for the event to everyone helped bridge that digital divide and connect our team for a fun event.

“Also, dedicated Slack channels for dog-owners and parents, or a book club discussing key social justice topics around the Black Lives Matter movement, offers more opportunities for connection and forsters our culture.”

6. Survey to continually elevate culture

Even with an open and authentic culture, there are still employees who would rather communicate their experiences and feedback anonymously. That’s where regular surveys can help human resources departments keep a pulse on their organization’s culture. According to Great Place to Work, 90% of companies survey their employees once a year.

While regular one-on-one meetings, department check-ins, and all hands meetings are great ways to keep everyone informed, surveys provide an opportunity for employees to bring feedback and ideas they might not feel comfortable doing so in person.

“Surveying employees is a critical part of helping us ensure that our efforts are reflective of what our employees want from our culture,” MacKinnon says. “It provides folks the opportunity to bring their great ideas to the table. We get valuable feedback and insights that help us better serve and support our Clari family.”

Want to be a part of Clari's remarkable culture?

A world-class workplace culture is the culmination of the everyday, little things. The community events, how we add the values into our conversation, how we hire, and how we support our team. As Clari grows, our commitment to building a remarkable culture evolves too. Looking to learn more about opportunities at Clari? We’re hiring! Check out our current openings here.

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