Since our founding two years ago, our company’s been growing quickly, and we are approaching one hundred employees. At HealthJoy, we work hard to create an amazing employee environment. It’s not something that happens by accident—we actively make it a priority.
Every company has a culture, but many times it develops by accident. This can create an atmosphere where you’re constantly losing your best employees and not really understanding why. We have a company meeting at least once a month where we talk about our culture, and we use a few tools to track, monitor, and foster the culture we are looking to create.
Here are a few common pitfalls that creating a negative culture:
A Non-Supportive or Toxic Boss – People don’t leave companies; they leave managers. You can do your best to create an amazing culture, but if you hire the wrong managers, they’ll bring down your culture fast. A friend of mine had a business that had a terrible turnover problem. The business was thriving and sales were great, but people always left the company quickly. After talking to a few ex-employees, he identified the problem: His head of sales always hit his numbers but was creating a toxic environment. He was a little worried about getting rid of him but knew it was the right thing to do long-term. He told me it made a huge difference to his turnover numbers, and to his surprise, sales grew as his new team felt energized.
Lack of Recognition – Showing a little gratitude to someone for the work they are doing can have a huge effect on both their happiness and productivity. In a study by the University of Pennsylvania, the group that was shown a little gratitude was 50% more productive than those who were not thanked. Here at HealthJoy, we use a cool online tool call Motivosity.com that helps everyone give public praise to others. People can even earn virtual money to spend on company swag like one of our cute JOY plushies.
Overworking Your Employees – There is a big different between an office where people work hard and one that overworks people. Setting unrealistic deadlines and giving people a constant overflow of work leads to burnout and stress. We love working hard at HealthJoy, but instead of overworking people, we give our employees the opportunity to generate the best work they have ever produced. People feel motivated to do their best. We actually have an “unlimited vacation day” policy and encourage people to take time off when they need it. Everyone needs to have a work/life balance.
No Real Company Mission – If your company mission is only to make money, you might be losing your best employees to companies with larger missions. Your company doesn’t have to be the next TOMS Shoes with a One for One program, but it should have a mission that people can get excited about. At HealthJoy, our mission is simple: We want to help every person on the planet make smarter healthcare decisions. We talk about this mission all the time. It’s not just something that lives in a corporate document that new employees only see once. Every Friday, we have a company-wide meeting. The amazing things I love hearing about at the meeting are the ways in which we’ve changed people’s lives that week. It’s very inspiring. Even though I’m not working directly with customers like our concierge staff is, I can feel good about the effect the company is having on our members.
Not Honoring Your Commitments & Dishonesty – Your best employees are usually confident and independent, and they just won’t put up with nonsense. They value trust, honesty, and transparency and will eventually leave for another job that treats them right. One of our core values is “Absolute Compassion and Respect,” and we expect everyone in the team to extend that compassion and respect not only to other employees but to our members as well.
Hiring and Promoting the Wrong People – The best way to deliver your corporate values is to hire people who hold those values already. “Cultural fit” is a hard concept to define, but you’ll immediately know when it’s missing. In my career, I’ve experienced some companies that try to come up with a test or assessment to figure out cultural fit, but I’ve only seen it fail. Once you’ve assessed someone’s skills, you need to ask yourself, “Would I want to spend time with this person after work?” If your answer is “no,” maybe you should look for another candidate. We spend so much time at work—we really need to surround ourselves with other people that we enjoy. Our culture might be a little geeky, but we enjoy it.
Failing to Develop Professional Skills – If you expect people to have all the skills they need when they walk in the door, you’re mistaken. Honestly, these days things change so fast that you need to work with people continuously to develop their skills. Furthermore, one Deloitte study found that 75% of employees believe offering employee development programs helps a company achieve a sense of meaningful purpose.
No Thought About Wellness – People spend the majority of their lives at work, so employees’ health and wellness should actually be a business’s concern. I remember one company I worked at that always seemed to have cakes and cookies at the office. It was always well-intentioned, but people complained about it. Making good life choices is always a struggle, and giving people positive options should be a priority. It’s something we internally identified as something to work at here at HealthJoy. We actually discovered the issue by internal polling using Officevibe.com. We now have great fruit and veggies for snacks and provide different lunch options when we sponsor lunch. We even installed a few treadmill desks at the office. I’m also a big fan of walking meetings, it’s a great way to get in a walk and discuss important topics. We also, of course, provide all our employees with free healthjoy.com accounts so they can talk to an online doctor at any time, chat with a concierge, and more.
Having a great culture and office environment is critical for keeping your best employees. Replacing even a single employee can be costly. One CAP study estimated the loss at two times their annual salary, especially for senior executives. You should really consider whether your company’s culture is failing you and do everything you can to fix it. The first part of fixing a problem is identifying it.