The importance of good workplace culture & building a positive work environment

Company News, Small Business Advice 20 December 2019

A few years ago, the right salary, brand reputation, and a convenient office location would have been enough to attract talent to your workforce. Not any more.

As technology has opened up, so have the opportunities for candidates to travel outside of their home-cities and work across the globe. To succeed and grow, not only do you need to attract talent, but you need to keep, and nurture it. 

You only need to look to the big tech players such as Netflix, Facebook and Google to see how they’re attracting the best brains in the industry. They’re not just offering competitive salaries, but eye-poppingly good offices, exciting work incentives, the latest technology, and, of course, flexible working.  

Yet it’s not all about a flashy office and craft-beers, new research in the US found that millennials would take a salary cut to work for an ethical and sustainable office. Giving back is important, whether that’s with time out of the office volunteering, or meaningful charitable donations.

World of Work

So how do you guarantee a good office organisational culture where teams thrive? 

Paymentsense prides itself on having succeeded in creating a culture of innovation, defiance, and most of all, passion. We love what we do, so it’s pretty nice to have received 3 out of 3 stars for outstanding levels of workplace engagement by Best Companies for 2020. 

To celebrate, we’re going to share some of our most coveted award-winning culture hacks:

Define your company’s long-term vision, with everyone

If you’re a smaller business you may assume you’re at odds with the giants. You don’t have the budget, resources or big names right now. But, as Travis Scott once said: ‘you can’t buy vision and you can’t buy aesthetic.’ 

He’s right. Authenticity is the most powerful tool in designing and communicating your goals, it’s the key to being revolutionary.

Whether you’re a group of five people in a home office, or you’re a 100-person strong workforce, you’re all working towards the same end goal but sometimes on a highly-stressful day, it can be difficult to remind yourself of this. That’s where the shared manifesto comes in.

Teams will align better and feel more positive when they’re in sync, when their values are shared, and their commitments are rewarded.

How can you define your vision:

  • Hold culture meetings and surveys to understand what values each team instills and what is important to achieve the end goal
  • Share examples of how your company’s vision differentiates from competitors and why this is so integral
  • Don’t be afraid of difference: make people’s uniqueness stand out and use it to your team’s advantage
  •  Ask employees to describe in one word how they want to be seen and how they want their work to be seen
  • Use a universal language to communicate your brand’s ethos, avoiding clichés or meaningless jargon

George & Yan, Paymentsense Christmas Conference 2020

How does Paymentsense achieve a shared vision?

  • Culture Hackers: a vision hidden is a vision lost. Paymentsense Culture Hackers live and breathe our core values and they make sure that everything we do is communicated, so we can celebrate our shared achievements in bravery, support, defiance and honesty
  • Fun company updates (with snacks): sometimes the vision changes, and that’s okay, as long as everyone is informed about the new innovations that are on the horizon
  • Team participation and feedback: the key to achieving end goals is good communication, allowing employees to give feedback on how this is going for them and how to improve
  • Personal growth and support: a team is only as good as its players. Becoming an expert in your field requires training from the pros, whether that’s internal knowledge sharing, or external courses, it’s important to invest in your people

Tear down barriers

A good example when looking at companies that foster a good organisational culture is knowing how they structure their teams and offices. 

While your dream office may not be achievable right this moment, there are some core elements you need to adopt to make sure communication is encouraged and there are no barriers between teams, causing inefficiencies or siloes. According to a study by Stanford:

  • 33% of millenials prefer collaborative workspaces 
  • 49% of millenials like to use social media tools to collaborate with colleagues
  • 37% of employees cite working closely in teams as a key reason for staying loyal to their business

So, how do you avoid your office feeling more like a library? How do you encourage enjoyable cross-team collaboration without utter chaos? Most of all, how do you ensure that when your team is growing, employees feel comfortable approaching one another? Here’s how we’re smashing it at Paymentsense:

  • Our offices are malleable: with interactive whiteboards, breakout spaces, private booths, cafés and outside spaces, you’re only alone if you need to be!
  • Everyone is approachable, no matter their job title— in fact, we encourage  staff to get to know the leaders with informal meet-and-greets
  • Remote working? Staff will never miss a beat (or the latest meme) with dedicated team Slack channels
  • Make meetings memorable, with pizza, snacks, a well-earnt beer on a friday  
  • Buddy up: get colleagues to go and meet someone on a completely different team to them. Match the marketing team with the HR team and share the vision
  • Weekly roundtables: to let your team know what goals you’ve been hitting and how you can support others

Understand and define real employee incentives

When it comes to incentives, where do you draw the line? What is authentic and personal, and what becomes merely a corporate ploy? It’s pretty standard now for offices to have free damn good coffee, fruit, beers on tap and a ping-pong table or roof-terrace. But what is all that if it doesn’t have a meaningful impact on your employees’ working life?

Before burning money on the latest fads, find out what your staff really value and what it is that would make their working days easier, more-relaxed and enjoyable.

Here are some practical ideas that we’ve adopted to make Paymentsense people-focussed, not incentive focussed:

  • Travel: we know London can be difficult to navigate, it can also be expensive. To help staff save money, we pay upfront for their yearly travel pass
  • Physical health: you want people feeling their best, that’s why Paymentsense offer subsidised leading healthcare insurance with Bupa and free weekly fitness classes including yoga, to help employees regain balance
  • Mental health: looking after your mind can often be an afterthought, we champion our mental health first aiders who always have time to talk and listen
  • Family: we offer subsidised childcare for growing families
  • Celebrations: hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. What better way to celebrate successes than to let off some steam by partying with colleagues on team socials

Turn colleagues into friends

With the right company culture, talented people can come together to make great things happen, and the results are pretty remarkable. The key to a positive morale is transforming colleagues into companions.

Making friends in a new workplace is pretty daunting, so having a relaxing and open environment can really make a difference. When a new colleague starts your team, what do you do to help them settle in?

At the very least, here’s what we like to do:

  • Introduce them to a buddy, who will take them on a full office tour, introduce them to their team, answer their questions and show them to their new desk
  • Take them out for a team or buddy lunch on their first day and show them the local area 
  • Make sure they have access to all the resources they need, including software
  • Introduce them to their line-manager and arrange an informal coffee 
  • Add them to their team social channels, so they can stay afloat 
  • Give them time to ask questions and absorb their new surroundings!

Once your staff are settled, don’t stop there. Why not encourage extra-curricular activities:

  • Lunch time book clubs: a welcome break from Instagram scrollin’
  • Coding club: free expert tech advice you can add to your list of skills
  • Mobfit: desk life is sedentary, why not try downward dog once in awhile?

 

We’re hiring!

If you’re looking to join a company with an award-winning workplace culture, you’re in luck– we’re opening our brand new Bristol office and we need you! If you’re not in the West Country, fear not, you can check out all of our other openings here.

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