You Might Be Small But Culture Wins Big

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Over the summer, we had the pleasure of welcoming Adam and Allen from Bourbon Fat to facilitate an employee experience workshop for our team, that they creatively retitled “Employee Experience FRAPPY Hour.” Because the majority of our team members are under 21, Frappuccinos seemed a little more fitting than cocktails. Bourbon Fat led us through several exercises including writing, drawing, prototyping, and acting, that allowed everyone on the team to openly share about their hopes, challenges, and preferences when it comes to work. Read our blog on their website here.

In today’s blog Allen and Adam share their wisdom on company culture.

Photo Credit: Eric Garvey

You Might be Small but Culture Wins Big

By Allen Weaver & Adam Allred, Co-Founders of Bourbon Fat

There’s a lot of stress in launching your own small business. From deciding whether you’re an LLC or an S-Corp to identifying your customer niche to marketing to hiring employees, it can be overwhelming. It’s also certainly easy enough to get lost in the land of administrative hell. As bills start coming in, and as clients start to grow (along with their level of expectations), it is easy to forget about why you’ve started a business to begin with, as well as forgetting about the well-being of those you’ve hired to help you.

The Culture Chasm

While your team of employees might initially be motivated and enthused for the adventure of starting a brand-new company from the ground up, they eventually fall into what’s referred to as the “cultural chasm.” David Niu, the CEO of TINYpulse, and Mark Roberge, the Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot, define the cultural chasm as, “the rough patch for about 70% of startups in years three to four regardless of how happy the team was before.” How do they explain this shift in startup culture? Well, as you can imagine, if you’re the founder of a new company focused on surviving and making a profit, you’re likely growing blind to the cultural well-being of the company at the expense of the Employee Experience and employee engagement.

Photo Credit: Eric Garvey

According to Niu and Roberge, not valuing the cultural stability of your company beyond the excitement of launch and when the coolness of fun office perks wears off, you’re looking at having a 70% chance of higher employee turnover than startups who remain focused on the importance of culture. Maybe you think turnover isn’t that big of a deal when you’re first starting out. Well, consider this. In 2016, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimated the average time to hire a new employee is 42 days at a cost of $4,192. Let’s say you have 10 employees. If 7 of them quit throughout the year due to burnout or not feeling heard, you’d be looking at 294 lost days of work impacting your efficiency, not to mention decreasing the remaining employees’ morale. In addition, you’d spend about $29,344 to replace those employees and that’s only accounting for the basics. This number is much larger depending on the scope and scale of the position you’re hiring for plus the hours lost for how many other people are involved in the search.

Bridging the Chasm

We advise you to take some of that money you’d potentially lose through turnover and invest it back into your employees through incentives, wellness and development opportunities, team building, and additional resources. Don’t forget to throw in some happy hours of course! Even after all of that, you’d likely spend far less money than the cost and time to replace employees. Plus, your team would remain highly engaged resulting in only good things for your business and customers.

How to Recognize if You’re Falling into the Chasm

At Bourbon Fat, we’re currently developing a fun diagnostic for leaders and HR teams to gauge how their employees are feeling about the company culture and their Employee Experience. We’ll give you sneak peek of that below, but there’s a DIY approach you can take for now.

Photo Credit: Eric Garvey

Good ole-fashioned listening and transparent communication is a great way to get started on your own. Take intentional pauses during your crazy startup journey to sit and chat with your employees about how they are feeling, where they see inefficiencies, and what ideas they have for their own growth and development. The more you can illustrate their career path options expanding as the company grows, the better! You can also share with employees the challenges you are personally facing along with the company’s long-term obstacles. Then, ask them for their input to solving those challenges! Framing work that still needs to be accomplished as challenges rather than dictating them as assignments, makes the team feel valued and empowered as problem solvers.

Having a sense of meaning in work, opportunities to create connections with coworkers, and access to leadership and resources makes for a top-shelf Employee Experience and overall company culture. All of these ingredients stirred together lead to more engaged employees.

A Sneak Peek at DIVE

We mentioned above that we’re working on a diagnostic as well as an accompanying toolkit to help leaders and HR teams assess and creatively improve their company culture and Employee Experience. Here’s a look at what you’ll find in our DIVE card sort diagnostic. Once we finish testing and refining, we’ll look to launch in 2018.

Bourbon Fat designs meaningful employee experiences.

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