How to Maintain Workplace Culture During Expansion

Categories: Advice for Start-ups and Entrepreneurs, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning

Maintaining a unique company culture is a challenge that any business faces as they expand. For minority-owned businesses, this can be especially important, as they bring a unique cultural and social point of view to their work. But how do you maintain your employee and company culture when your business is expanding?

Define Your Culture

Before you begin your expansion, sit down and consider what values are at the core of your business and the culture you have built. This will influence how you grow, support your employees, and who you hire next. Company culture is more than happy hours and team-building exercises, though, and bears some serious consideration.

Take a holistic view of your company culture, including communication with management, how criticism is given, and what opportunities you offer employees for career development. Once you’ve identified what makes your organizational process unique, you can move on to less technical elements and focus on scaling them per your new growth.

Culture runs throughout the business, and for Filipino businesses, in particular, include cultural elements that have helped define the way your company functions. The friendliness and emphasis on building business connections through relationships that are common in Filipino businesses are excellent places to start. Consider the value placed on family and how you promote that for your employees, as well as the company values that were established when the company was first created.

Netflix is an excellent example of maintaining culture through expansion. Although it’s gone from a small company to a major media outlet, its values today are the same ones it started with. Freedom and responsibility, paying top market salaries, and internal promotions and rewards are key to the culture. Netflix emphasizes that a company’s values and culture are indicated by its actions rather than simple statements. When defining your culture, consider actionable statements that you want to focus on throughout your expansion and beyond.

Solicit Feedback

Once you have defined your company’s culture, you can request feedback from your current employees to see if you are currently meeting those goals. This will help you identify current and future pain points. It will also help you determine the most essential qualifications and traits of future hires. This is a particularly important time to be intentional about who you are hiring and making sure that they are not only a fit for the current culture of the business but that they will contribute to its ongoing development.

Soliciting feedback can be a tricky situation. You want to ensure that employees are free to discuss pain points, while respecting that many may feel uncomfortable with confrontation, especially with their superiors. Fortunately, there are many free tools available to solicit feedback from employees while allowing them to stay anonymous, including Strawpoll, Google Forms, and Survey Monkey. All of these give you the ability to quickly disperse anonymous surveys and helps you keep the answers organized.

Snapchat is an example of a company that has thrived on open communication throughout its growth. With over three thousand employees, team members credit the genuine openness of the company with their success. By staying open to communication, while respecting employee privacy, companies can make community feedback a mainstay of expansion.

Keep Communication Open

Feedback and communication are a big part of company culture. Making communication a core part of the transition process can help ensure the overall success of company expansion. Many small companies have a close-knit set of employees who have developed their own shorthand, respect, and hierarchy among themselves, and while this can improve functioning initially, make sure that new employees can be brought in to the fold.

This is another opportunity to further define your company culture. Keeping lines of communication open, especially when preparing for an influx of new hires, means making sure that you know the needs of your employees, and how they communicate best with each other. Some teams, for example, may need longer meetings with higher management present, while others prefer smaller, longer meetings where issues can be discussed more socially.

This is also a time to emphasize collaboration throughout the company. Not only will this help maintain the close-knit feeling that you get with a smaller company, but it will also help build relationships between your employees and give them a sense of ownership. As the business expands and new talent is brought in, reinforcing a culture of openness, friendliness, and collaboration can be instrumental to success.

Hire Carefully

The process of interviewing and hiring new employees is an inevitable part of the expansion process. This can, however, be the biggest challenge in maintaining your established company culture. By using structured interview tactics, temporary trial periods, and addressing concerns interviewees have from previous employment, you can make sure that new hires will both be the right fit for you and feel supported in their new role.

Everyone is looking for someone who will work hard, be loyal to their work, and stay engaged throughout their employment. Consider using positive psychology during the interview process to encourage the interviewee to reveal how their mind works. This will give the interviewee the chance to highlight their achievements and give you insight into their self-awareness.

Use test projects or work samples to evaluate both their skills and their general work process. This will also help you determine how well they follow instructions, communicate, and whether they seek out collaboration when presented with challenges. Having a trial period before making a job offer can give the potential employee the chance to see if the position is right for them. Simultaneously, it lets you see how they collaborate with coworkers, communicate with their superiors, and if their personal values align with those of the company.

Keep Family and Social Values In Mind

Prioritizing family is something that many companies claim to do. But in Filipino workplaces, it can be especially important to make this an active focal point that you reinforce. This will not only help your employees feel supported in their off-hours, as well as while they are clocked in.

This goes beyond time off and understanding management. Building a company that values family also means ensuring that employees can be themselves and that the environment feels welcoming to all. Maintaining the community aspect of your business throughout expansion is intensely important.

Make sure that social gatherings and traditions are still held, and that company traditions are maintained. This will not only give your employees a sense of normality during a time of great change, but it will also give them a chance to engage with their coworkers socially, reinforcing that your company is also a family. You may work hard, but you can also relax together.

Jori Hamilton