Some companies don’t care much about their internal culture. Others do. If the structure of a business is its body, then its internal culture would be its soul. It’s what makes companies unique and what gives them character.
Developing a positive working culture can pay dividends by differentiating one company from another, even if they sell the same products and share other similarities.
When led by a strong set of values, an organisation is more likely to experience better results thanks to better employee performance. This increase in motivation comes from a sense of belonging and the united vision that a strong culture brings.
These switched-on companies will also become a magnet for talented individuals that seek roles in organisations that reward people on a deeper level. A better working environment, brought about as part of developing a good working culture, benefits existing employees too, resulting in reduced staff turnover, which can sometimes cost a company as much as 50% of each person’s annual salary.
But beyond the numbers, it’s good to do something that makes us all feel part of a collective working family.
To better communicate what is important to us as a company, at CRITICAL Software, we developed a unique set of values. Our values remind us that when we work as a team and support each other, we can achieve great things together.
We celebrated Red Nose Day in Portugal, raising funds for "Doutores Palhaços", a charity which supports the visits of clowns to children’s hospitals.
As part of our culture, we look to provide great employee benefits along with a great working environment. Whether it’s offering a flexible working day or supporting employee-led initiatives, we look after and invest in our people. To encourage a feeling of wellbeing and to increase happiness levels, we’ve organised simple things – like pizza-fuelled project innovation nights, team-building events, free snacks and monthly massages – plus, we also support bigger, company-wide initiatives. For example, our CRITICAL Fit initiative allows employees to ‘bank’ exercise hours which we then turn into donations to charities. We also have be.CRITICAL which is an internal network our people can use to share interests and form clubs. This offers the benefits of teambuilding and keeps morale high.
Our employees are happy to ‘live’ our values, taking part in fun runs, blood drives and food collections and they are doing some great things we support wherever we can.
For example, in the UK, we support a dedicated team who plan and run events targeted to maintaining our employee wellbeing. Our ‘Culture Club’ also coordinates fundraising activities and past results have seen them donate over £1200 to local charities through teambuilding initiatives.
Recently, our team in Coimbra organised a giant outdoor game of ‘Pong’ to remind everyone that relaxing and having fun is part of good mental health. If you’d like to see what this looked like from above, you can check it out here.
We also look to support the tech community by hosting events in our offices, promoting local businesses and getting behind educational campaigns. The most recent example of this was hosting the 50th Geek Girls Meet-Up at our Porto office. Last year, we also welcomed local school children from Coimbra to our headquarters to discover how we contributed to the ExoMars project and to watch the launch itself.
Proving they are stronger together, some of the UK team took on a tough obstacle course race to raise funds for local charities.
Gathering feedback and making sure people know this feedback goes somewhere that counts is a great way to foster a culture where everyone feels involved. This helps to ensure employees contribute actively to shaping the company’s future. We’ve found things like happiness surveys, company meetings and regular ‘check ins’ – where employees discuss how they are doing with a colleague of their choosing – are great for measuring how successfully our ‘culture’ is working and how strongly individuals feel a part of our company’s journey.The shared vision that a well-designed culture supports ultimately determines the road an organisation is on. It doesn’t take many changes to begin creating a positive company culture but even if it did, happier employees and a road map to success are well worth caring about.