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Engineering leadership | Blog Post

How To Build An Inclusive Company Culture

Wes Mitchell-Lewis

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Is your company losing software developers to Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, Meta, and Disney? During this time of the “great resignation” employees are leaving their jobs at companies for a variety of reasons, but the number one opportunity may surprise you: having an inclusive company culture.

According to a 2022 survey from FlexJobs, the primary reason employees leave their jobs is due to what they deem “toxic company culture”.

With this in mind, you may consider it time to revamp your company culture. This can include reimagining what is most important for today’s workforce. Remote work, compensation, and great benefits all rank on the list of what is important, but have you thought about how inclusive your company culture is?

Beyond offering employees the opportunity to work remotely, paying them more than a fair wage, and providing them with great benefits; inclusivity and diversity are extremely important in today’s culture. They can have a much bigger impact on your company than you think. 

Companies that create a diverse workforce are likely to be more creative and profitable – especially when diversity extends into the upper levels of management. When companies put as much work into creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, they are also more likely to retain their employees for longer periods of time too.

“The average employee exit costs 33% of their annual salary.”

How do you begin rebuilding or creating an inclusive company that is welcoming to everyone?

It starts by soliciting feedback from all employees. Anonymous surveys may work best as employees are likely to feel more comfortable being open and honest with their true feelings. It’s crucial to communicate that feedback is appreciated and welcomed. 

Employees need to know that whatever they say will be used to help enhance the company culture and not have any negative impact on their career or performance reviews. Incentivization can sometimes help draw a larger number of responses, however, is not usually necessary as most will volunteer their thoughts if given the opportunity.

How do you utilize feedback on your company culture?

Once you’ve collected feedback, you can begin thinking about how to incorporate it into existing policies or create new ones. It will be important to establish a committee or panel to review feedback and disseminate the data into actionable steps. 

This panel should feature a broad range of diverse voices when creating new policies, procedures, or employee offerings. This can be extremely beneficial in ensuring that everyone feels equally and fairly represented.

You must be sure to communicate what is happening behind the scenes to all stakeholders, not just the leadership team. When everyone feels like they are a valued part of the process, they are more likely to feel better connected to the company, mission, and their job and feel the benefits of a more inclusive company culture.

What other steps should I take to build a successful company culture?

Company culture can be tied directly to employee morale, retention and productivity. It’s become abundantly clear that remote work has many significant benefits, including its affect on all three of those areas. However, we rarely see transparent and candid conversations around the drawbacks. Some fully remote workers may report feeling lonely due to a lack of connection with colleagues. In today’s world, colleagues can be working together remotely for some time without having had the opportunity to actually meet in person.

  • Create opportunities to build stronger bonds via team-building events. How about a virtual happy hour or coffee chat with small groups or pairs? Workers can have the opportunity to meet and chat with folks they may not usually interact with.
  • How about once-a-month brown bag virtual events which combine both educational and fun content programs? Encourage employees to help lead or contribute topic suggestions and presentations.
  • Consider scheduling regular, optional check-in meetings so that you can keep in closer contact with your team members. Regular contact in a friendly, positive, and upbeat setting will encourage more honest dialogue and also afford the opportunity to spot issues that can be resolved and help improve attrition rates. 

COO David Bischof at Premise has strongly embraced this and recently shared his thoughts on the value of a strong culture for startups.

“Culture is incredibly important to developing a startup and to growing internationally. I’ve spent a lot of time developing a culture at Premise that fosters what success means—not just from a bottom-line perspective, but also from a career perspective. 

That helps in a cross-border system of working relationships. If you don’t have a good culture in place, and you do not treat the people you hire internationally as part of your team, part of the culture, and part of the company, everything can fall apart quickly. 

Things will fall off the rails because people won’t feel like they’re part of the system, not part of what everyone is working on. The last thing you want is for people to feel like they’re on an island and not part of the company.”

COO David Bischof at Premise

David lays out a simple formula for success. Failure to heed his suggestions could contribute to more of the same: resignations, attrition, and loss of morale. Conversely, with a strong drive to promote connectedness in the company culture, the chances of success are greatly enhanced.

Your company culture should of course be unique to you and all of the core values that are most important to the organization. Regardless, be sure the inclusive company culture that you create and demonstrate allows everyone to feel included. Nobody should feel isolated; rather, they should feel like who they are matters, is welcomed, and is celebrated.

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