Creating a Great Company Culture
Culture is what we share; it’s the values, goals, attitudes, and practices that make us who we are as an organization. A strong culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture?
Each company has its own unique culture and way of crafting it. The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight.
This article shares our approach and recommendations to create an intentional company culture, offering insights and strategies that any company can apply to nurture a positive environment that leads to success.
What is intentional company culture?
Every company has a culture. While culture may form organically, consistent and intentional cultivation will result in greater success.
Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main styles:
No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture (flexible work or other perks) over performance-based culture (raises and promotions for a job well done), the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference.
In InspiringApps’ infancy, the personalities of the relatively few people involved drove our culture. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to what we’ve come to value—empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees.
Why do your employees need an intentional company culture?
A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture!
In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work.
Creating an intentional company culture requires consistency and time. There is no shortcut.
Intentional company culture benefits from open minds. Influential leaders seek to:
- Understand what employees appreciate and what causes them pain.
- Hear employees’ suggestions for improvement.
- Follow through with promised changes.
- Repeat the above frequently.
Intentional company culture requires commitment from everyone—especially the leadership team. InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth. An InspiringApps employee explains it best:
How To Develop & Maintain a Great Company Culture
Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team. We built our culture slowly and methodically, and we’re proud to celebrate strong retention, with over 40% of our staff staying with us for more than five years.
Among all the lessons we’ve learned, the following best practices stand apart from the rest:
- Promote from within.
- Offer excellent benefits.
- Be inclusive.
- Communicate consistently.
In the following sections, we discuss each best practice in detail and share our experiences to help every company develop and maintain a great culture.
Promote From Within
Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards.
Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team members stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities, and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees can have long tenures at InspiringApps, while remaining competitive. At the same time, we can hire the best candidates for our growing positions right from our own team.
As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team through their tenure.
Offer Excellent Benefits
Many startups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect.
As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401(k) plan with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP).
Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that better reflects the communities we serve.
Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees, which is 20% more than the US average.
Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients.
Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago, that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital—and the efforts to be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection are ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives, and more.
Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the answer. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why.
Open and frequent communication, including standups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. When you share company goals regularly, your employees will feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision-making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling positive communication behaviors in everything they do.
Technology is your ally when it comes to employee engagement. Offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture.
The Value of Culture
InspiringApps nurtures a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity. Our commitment to culture is exemplified by an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years.
Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another. Beyond making InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, our culture is evident in our client relationships and in the apps we create.
Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 15 years, our app development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications serving over 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.
Let’s build something together
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Business & Strategy
Austin has been ranked #1 in “America’s Best Places To Start A Business,” according to CNBC. This is largely due to the significant amount of resources available state-wide. Resources for Austin entrepreneurs abound, with phenomenal resources such as Austin Startup Week, BIGAustin, and Austin Women in Technology. Austin-based nonprofit, PeopleFund, posits that more than 99% of companies in Travis County are considered small businesses—so entrepreneurs in Austin are in good company and at a great vantage point to find phenomenal support systems. We posted a list of resources for entrepreneurs in Boulder and Denver, and since we also have team members in Austin, we felt a similar list could be useful for our friends in Texas. This post will touch on the same four areas of assistance for entrepreneurs in Austin: Legal Resources: As an Austin entrepreneur starting out on your business journey, you can benefit greatly from hiring an attorney as well as learning fundamental laws that impact entrepreneurs, such as intellectual property. Financial Resources: There are many active organizations that dedicate themselves to providing you with helpful resources to assist you in building the startup of your dreams. Networking Resources: Networking opportunities prove to be invaluable to getting acquainted with fellow entrepreneurs and immersing yourself in the tech world. Educational Resources: Austin entrepreneurs can utilize these resources to empower themselves and innovate for the future. Whether you are just starting out or are in the midst of your business journey, these resources will provide excellent value for every stage of entrepreneurship. Legal Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs RWR Legal: Entrepreneurial Law With offices in both Austin and San Antonio, RWR Legal focuses on entrepreneurial and investment areas of the law. The firm specializes in intellectual property, real estate law, and corporate services, among other legal needs of startups. As they put it: “We are passionate about building businesses—our own and our clients’—to help innovators achieve success.” Legal Garage: Business Law Legal Garage offers similar services to entrepreneurs. They cover areas of law, including filing confidentiality agreements, trademark licenses, and website terms and conditions. The company wants to ensure that entrepreneurs can find the legal services and resources they need at an affordable price point. Lawyer Referral Service: Lawyer & Community Resources Although not specific to entrepreneurs, the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas also offers a way to find the right lawyer for your business. They have an online form for an immediate referral, or you can contact them to ask questions if you need clarification on the type of legal help you need. CooleyGO: Legal Assistance Finally, as noted in our blog post about resources for entrepreneurs in Denver and Boulder, CooleyGO is a valuable online resource that can help you to identify and create all the key legal documents you need to get a business started. Whether you want to incorporate or want to protect IP with a non-disclosure agreement, you’ll find their free, easy-to-use document generator indispensable. They also create and curate outstanding content on everything from creating a board of directors to selling your company. Financial Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs CTAN Austin: Helping Startups Get on Their Feet Financial concerns weigh heavily on many startups. The most active angel organization in the US, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), helps young startups get on their financial feet. The group helps entrepreneurs secure early-stage investment. CTAN also offers mentorship opportunities and business resources. CTAN operates through a dedicated group of local business people who dedicate their time to helping entrepreneurs but also has a full-time executive director and an investment associate. BiGAUSTIN: Assisting Austin Entrepreneurs With Financial Options BiGAUSTIN is another excellent resource that has a quarter century of experience supporting local small businesses. A micro-lender, BiGAUSTIN helps entrepreneurs find the right loans and financing options for their startups. The nonprofit organization understands the unique financial needs of entrepreneurs during each step of building a company. Likewise, BiG houses Women’s BiZ Inc., a group specifically geared to support the female leaders of Central Texas. Accion: Providing Loan Advice & Assistance Similar to BiGAUSTIN, Accion assists entrepreneurs and small businesses with loans. Just fill out their hassle-free online application that outlines your business goals and the type and amount of financing your young company needs. Need help determining what kind of loan or the amount you need? Accion provides one-on-one advice and solutions. SCORE Austin: Answering All Your Business Questions SCORE Austin, an organization that offers free counsel in multiple cities, assists local entrepreneurs in confidently tackling financial questions. They do everything from pairing you with a mentor in the business world to helping you enroll in workshops on a variety of topics to providing free financial resources. SCORE relies on a dedicated group of local business people who volunteer their time and experience to help those just getting started. Mentoring is free and entirely confidential. USDA B&I Eligibility Map: Checking if You Qualify for USDA-Backed Funding Small business owners/entrepreneurs may want to know if they are eligible for a business loan or a specific loan in relation to what they do. To do this, they can check out a USDA B&I eligibility map to see if it is available in their area. The USDA B&I eligibility map finds out if you qualify for funding in a matter of seconds. Networking Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs Austin Chamber of Commerce: Nonprofit Member Organization It’s always so helpful to “find your people,” and that’s never more true than when faced with the challenges of startup life. Austin Chamber is a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs meet other startup leaders while focusing on developing businesses as a community. Part of the mission of the Austin Chamber is the growth of the local economy; they believe that when entrepreneurs thrive, so does Austin, and thus are eager to help create community. Capital Factory: Entrepreneurial Co-Working Space Capital Factory is a prime co-working office space home to many entrepreneurs and startups. Beyond offering desk space, they sponsor numerous community events, many free of charge. Whether you have just started down the entrepreneurial path or want to expand your startup, Capital Factory provides valuable workshops and networking opportunities to help your business excel. Expansive is another shared workspace and is a personal InspiringApps favorite. Expansive is just as it sounds—an expansive and thriving workspace. Networking Austin, BuiltIn: Local Professionals Club Networking Austin is a club of local professionals from various industries and companies worth checking out. Membership is broader than just entrepreneurs, but the events offered can still help you build your business and make quality connections. BuiltIn Austin is a tech-oriented meet-up to meet new people and build relationships LinkedIn Local Austin Networking has a strong membership and is a great way to expand your network. Austin Technology Council is a fantastic group with which to network, engage, and share ideas. Educational Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs Austin Technology Incubator (ATI): Bootcamps for Startups Austin Technology Incubator invests itself in the tech solutions of the future. Part of the University of Texas at Austin, the ATI enjoys access to university affiliations as well as corporate partners. You can attend a diverse set of boot camps and workshops with ATI, such as their “Health Care Startup Boot Camp” or “The Art of Combining Social Purpose with Profit.” The City of Austin also has a Small Business Program that offers “business training, educational events, and coaching to empower entrepreneurs.” Events cover topics from how to hire the right employees to understanding business loans. Their website also includes a comprehensive list of outside resources for entrepreneurs. Utilizing Your Resources as an Austin Entrepreneur As you continue to grow your business and face new challenges, we hope you keep some of these resources in mind for future use. No matter what stage you find yourself on the entrepreneurial path, these legal, financial, educational, and networking organizations are great places to turn to for guidance and assistance. We encourage you to utilize these resources as a starting point to connect with other techies, immerse yourself in knowledge, and attend leading events. At InspiringApps, we believe shared collaboration is the key to creating immersive and transformative solutions. Looking to dig deeper? We created this free eBook on app development from a business perspective geared to help innovative entrepreneurs like you succeed.
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