“Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.” – Frances Frei and Anne Morriss at Harvard Business Review
What is company culture, and why is it such a hot topic? Company culture is more than just ping pong tables in the break room and kombucha on tap, it is a sense of camaraderie. It’s a shared understanding of the company’s BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) paired with a team-player mentality and a healthy work-life balance. A great company culture can be used to encourage the formation of new teams, steer decision making, and assist with recruiting. If your opinion is that a focus on improving company culture is a waste of time and energy, think again! Great company culture is no longer just an option; when choosing an employer, millennial workers consider culture as much as they consider salary and benefits.
“Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.” – Howard Stevenson
Still wondering what great company culture actually means? The property management industry tends to be a bit behind the times, so here are a few high-level examples outside of our industry:
Did you know that Zappos offers new employees $2,000 to quit after their first week of training if they decide the job isn’t the right fit for them?
The newly popular eyeglass brand Warby Parker has a dedicated culture team that is responsible for ensuring that there is always an upcoming employee event. They believe the entire company should always have something to look forward to.
Southwest Airlines proves that older companies can revamp their culture too! They’ve been in operation for 43 years, if you can believe it. One of the reasons people love Southwest is because they encourage their employees to go that extra mile to make customers happy, empowering them to do whatever they need to do to meet that shared vision.
Twitter’s culture is pretty well known. Although most rave about the free meals, yoga classes and unlimited vacations for some, the most impressive aspect of their company culture is that employees feel that they are a part of a team that is making a difference in the world. There is a sense of urgency and follow through; even when designated with arduous projects, employees will stay in the office until the work gets done.
SquareSpace defines its culture as “flat, open and creative.” A flat organization is one where there are little to no levels of management, which allows all employees to feel their voices can be heard. They don’t have to “climb up the corporate ladder” just to get their innovative idea in front of an executive. This type of organizational structure instills confidence and improves workplace morale.
Last but not least, we can’t forget Google. With it’s free food, employee trips and parties, financial bonuses, open presentations by high-level executives, gyms, dog-friendly environment, etc, it’s no wonder their company culture is renowned. Look, you don’t have to go over the top to improve your company culture, but you can take a few tidbits of inspiration from these culture giants.
Now that you have a better understanding of what culture is and how it can be achieved in a number of unique ways, you may be wondering, why though? What is the point? Won’t my employees slack off if they are given this freedom? The answer is no. A successful company culture leads to a successful business, and we can prove it. Productivity increases by as much as 8.2% when employees are happy, and the economic benefit of this increased productivity can equal as much as $1,982 per employee per year (source). “Happier workers, our research found, were 12% more productive. Unhappier workers were 10% less productive” (source). Numbers aside, it seems blatantly obvious that most employers would prefer their employees to be not only satisfied, but happy with their job. Miserable employees lead to rapid turnover rates. “Companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20 percent, earn 1.2 to 1.7 percent more than their peer firms, and are 2.1 percent above industry benchmarks. Happy workers are also more likely to solve difficult problems faster.” (source)
At PayLease, we take pride in our amazing company culture! Just read a few of our Glassdoor reviews by current employees:
- “PayLease is the best company I have worked at and the main reason is the people and culture. It’s a relaxed environment with a work hard/play hard culture. It is a very casual environment and there is no dress code. Management all the way up to the top is very approachable and I feel like everyone is willing to help each other. I like the fact that the company invests in the company culture and we always have company events.”
- “The culture here is amazing. Everyone here has a great attitude, loves their job and works hard at it. The recognition this company gives for your achievements is better than I’ve ever seen. They work hard to keep their employees happy with a company event every month where everyone can cut loose and have a great time.”
- “This company has a great culture that permeates every aspect of the business. All of the employees are happy to work for this company and you can see it in how they treat each other and clients. Seasoned employees go above and beyond their job description and it encourages newer employees to do the same.”
So what can you as a property management professional do to enhance your company’s culture? Well first, you can conduct a culture audit. Ask yourself these questions: How defined is my company culture? Do my employees have reasonable knowledge of our brand values? How often do I notice my team failing to adhere to our ideal culture?
Next, create or solidify a strong and consistent set of values, then get your team excited about them and inspired to live by them. Consider switching employees to different teams. Constantly working with people you don’t normally work with will result in a sense of cohesion among everyone in the office. Review all of your current benefits that include but are not limited to: employee promotions, pay practices, performance management, and employee selection. Make sure everything your company offers is aligned with your desired culture.
Remind your workers that every employee is 100% responsible for supporting the organization’s culture. That way, when meeting potential candidates, whether or not they fit with your culture will help narrow down the options. It only takes one lazy pessimist to bring down an entire office morale.
We understand that in the property management space, there isn’t much wiggle room for extravagant events and modern office luxuries, but there are cost-efficient ways to improve culture one step at a time.
PayLeaser Trey Bartelson used to work in property management, and he has a few simple suggestions.
- Try taking a more lenient approach to dress code. Of course you want your team to look professional on the job, but try letting them wear their team’s jersey on game day. It might even help them connect with potential and current residents.
- Find unique ways to offset responsibilities. Make sure the workload is spread out evenly between employees.
- Establish a team vibe between assistants and managers. Everyone should be able to feel like they can ask for help without worrying about office hierarchy.
- Play games, plan a mandatory team building experience. Reconnecting with team members makes people realize they have resources in each other. Also, just knowing upper management encourages a fun environment will make workers happier to be there every day.