Company culture, more than a pool table in the breakroom

Company culture is at the forefront of almost every CEO’s, Recruiter’s and Manager’s mind. Gone are the days where the prospect of an annual pay review will retain top talent, or a beer fridge and pool table in the breakroom constitute a great company culture.

How many companies have you worked at where employees didn’t stick around long? In many cases, departures are not a result of a lack of skills but a lack of cultural fit. When the personality and approach to work of an employee differ significantly to that of their employers the relationship is unlikely to last long. And whilst it may endure, it is unlikely to be productive.

Sculpted by an organisation’s hiring, working and performance management methodologies, company culture refers to the atmosphere inside an organisation. Planning and defining company culture is now a vital part of leading organisations growth, recruitment and employee retention strategies. Healthy company culture is integral in order for companies to survive.

Attracting applicants to your jobs with the right cultural fit in addition to the right skills can have a huge impact on a company’s performance. Creating a much more efficient recruitment process, minimising the risk of bad hiring decisions, which ultimately cost businesses much more than a percentage of the annual hiring budget.

The key to implementing a successful company culture, like any strategic business decision – planning. Start with a mission statement, define values and create a plan with clear steps on how to build and develop your company culture.

Ready to get started? The information below is designed to help get the ball rolling.


Appoint an owner/ owner(s)

Buy-in is critical to successfully defining and implementing company culture. Many employees will see company values and culture as a list of hollow statements, created by Marketing to communicate with prospects and customers.

Explain what you are doing and why. Make it clear that this is something that will have a positive and ongoing impact.

Culture is heavily influenced top down, particularly in younger SaaS companies. It is important staff know you are taking it seriously, bring in key employees to stimulate collaboration. Assign a team to take ownership, without leaders the task can quickly be overlooked and dropped.


Ask your team

Your staff will have different backgrounds, many ending up in SaaS from very different starting points. Invite your team to outline what is important to them and why.

Keep questions open and expect responses to be varied. The idea is to gather a broad range of ideas that will then be sorted and grouped.

There is no right or wrong way to do this, you could use a real time survey application, hold an off-site or simply encourage participation via chat or email. Once collected, score and group suggestions, then begin to build out an initial draft.


Align with company goals

Chances are you set out to solve a problem or to address an area that remained overlooked. Does the information provided by employees align with current company goals and the principles your SaaS solution is built on?

Company culture should align both internally and externally, each category should in some way relate to each department’s work.


Ask your team… again, and again

Share your working versions with employees, ask for their honest feedback and critique. Do they relate to the points, do they consider them important? Reinforce why you are going through the process and how this will impact everyone for the better. Revise and tailor the values based on feedback.


Apply, systemise and incentivise

Defining your company values is only the first step. Many companies get to this stage and consider the job done. The values are printed on posters, emailed to new starters and then forgotten. Remember the goal of company culture is to create a better internal atmosphere. One which positively impacts morale, employee retention and overall business performance.

Once refined into a working version begin to build values into key processes and documentation (job descriptions, onboarding guides, performance reviews etc.).

Communicate and reinforce the importance of the culture regularly. Incentivise and engage employees that embrace and understand your values. From a Graduate hire to the CEO, the culture should be owned and lived by everyone regardless of position.


Do you think company culture is an over-hyped buzzword or something integral to success within SaaS? Get involved in the conversation using the social links or leaving a comment below.