A company culture is the DNA of the company and has long been seen as the building block for performance, retention and business success. This article will outline how to build and sustain the magic as work patterns flex and remote working environments increase.
'A company culture doesn’t happen naturally, it is built.'
Ise Palmstierna, Head of People and Operations, Altruistiq
Your company culture needs to be distinguished from the organisational climate. This distinction happens through defined values and beliefs. Defining your values is unique to your organisation and is driven by your company’s purpose, mission and vision. At Altruistiq, defining our values was pushed to the forefront of the business agenda from the get-go. We have grown with five core values in mind:
Building your culture into the fabric of your organisational structure is a critical step to creating an environment for sustained cultural engagement and distributed ownership.
At Altruistiq, we operate through a horizontal organisational structure which tends to remove traditional definitions of roles and their associated status to offer employees more freedom, flexibility, agency and autonomy. In turn, this positively impacts employee motivation satisfaction and happiness metrics. A way that we have actioned this is by creating a safe space for teams to innovate by giving everyone the opportunity to propose actions for the company (that they will lead) at our weekly governance meeting.
A snapshot of our company building proposal board:
We have also embedded this into our organisational framework, recently adding new policies around menopause, breastfeeding, period and transition at work to ensure we create an inclusive and empowering space for employees.
Company values need to be the ‘north star’ and the anchor behind every employee’s decision-making process. Constant engagement with the values requires them to be embedded throughout every echelon of the company.
One of the most effective ways that we have found to do this is to direct employee recognition through our values in the weekly all-hands meeting. Regular and positive reinforcement encourages value engagement and effectively ingrains the values into every business decision.
Examples from our weekly kudos:
Clear communication and working practices are integral to building a cohesive team with a shared sense of purpose. This should be built into the structure of the company and reinforced by tech tools (not the other way around).
One of our core values, to be ruthlessly transparent, keeps us honest to this. We ensure that good news and bad news travel fast (e.g., open slack channels and notion pages, and direct communication across the team in a non-hierarchical way). An example of this in action:
Make employee wellbeing and psychological safety a core building block of your culture. By supporting and encouraging wellness programmes, employees are sent a message that commercial success and wellbeing are synonymous.
We believe a happy work-life balance drives high performance (e.g., as part of a flexible working lifestyle, we encourage employees to structure their calendars around their personal life with calendar blocks for anything from mid-day pilates to children’s bath-time, recognising that one size does not fit all).
'Altruistiq’s culture is based on a moral position: that all members of our company community should have equal opportunities for fulfilment (to master their craft), involvement (to shape their environment), and balance (to live their lives).'
Saif Hameed, CEO Altruistiq
Building a company culture is redundant unless it is proactively sustained. This is done by holding yourself accountable and critically reflecting, on a regular basis, to assess the state of your culture.
As a remote-first, growing company we have encountered many challenges in maintaining and developing our culture. For example, due to reduced capacity, our casual Friday social fell by the wayside with limited attendance and organisational structure. Two employees highlighted this in our weekly governance meeting and initiated a proposal to renew these socials. Although the collapse of ‘Casual Friday’ can be seen as a cultural loss, it was made clear how important the Altruistiq culture is to every employee to uphold and champion - an unexpected success.
Altruistiq’s company culture is a constantly working progress which every employee is encouraged to engage with, critique and champion to make sure it grows with us.
Thasneem: “Altruistiq are probably the most caring company I have ever had the pleasure of working for, from caring for the planet to caring for our individual needs and wellbeing. I've benefitted hugely from all the perks Altruistiq has to offer, and I am eternally grateful for being part of such a wonderful and fulfilling company.”
Emily: “Everyone at Altruistiq is united by a shared purpose, and the underlying values of the company shine through in every decision made. At Altruistiq, everyone is given the chance to shape the company and be at the forefront of the future of climate tech. Working here is an exciting mix of innovation, purpose & collaboration - & the free massages at the office are the cherry on top!”
George: “I’ve been impressed by the openness and the willingness of all the people to make me feel comfortable throughout the onboarding process. Also the extensive lengths that AQ go to help you achieve your personal goals and to maintain a work-life balance has been remarkable.”
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