Office culture is often touted as the secret sauce for companies wanting to attract and retain top talent, boost their employees’ productivity and grow their brand into a more profitable enterprise. But until now, the notion that culture held this kind of power was little more than intuition.

This spring, turnstone set out to prove the connection by conducting an omnibus survey of more than 500 small businesses around the topic of culture in the workplace. The results were undisputable: culture matters more than ever.

The 2014 Turnstone Small Business Culture Report revealed that 9-in-10 managers surveyed feel culture plays an important or somewhat important role in the success of their company. They acknowledge that young professionals want—and expect—a vibrant work environment that allows them to be themselves, innovate and build relationships with their coworkers. Despite this felt need, 7-in-10 surveyed admit being unsatisfied with the culture in their workplaces.

If you find yourself in that group, making changes to improve your office culture doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Here are some steps you can take to rev up the fun factor and create the kind of environment that keeps people excited to come to work:

Create gathering spaces: Groove, a digital marketing firm in Baltimore, MD, recently moved into a new space with intentionally designed gathering spaces. Aside from turnstone Big Tables in their common areas, Groove installed an in-house bar featuring a stage and café area for multi-purpose use. Spaces like this send the message that teammates are more than work buddies. They’re family.

Celebrate together. Pausing during the day to celebrate company milestones, big client wins, employee birthdays and work anniversaries brings the team together and builds bonds that go deeper than a logo alone ever will. Just this fall, turnstone celebrated its 21st birthday with cake and singing in our group gathering space.  We also use our monthly business meetings to mark work anniversaries and birthdays within our team. Celebrations boost morale and remind your team that they’re working toward common goals and a shared vision.

Share a meal. Nothing brings people together like food! Sweet Roots NYC, Greatist and Well+Good keep healthy food at the center of their operations, and by doing so, underscore the importance of coming together around a shared passion. Food invites conversation, laughter and sets the table for great memories in the office.

Practice transparency. Red Door Interactive has built-in weekly gatherings to acknowledge team members who exemplify the company’s core values of inspiring others, exceeding expectations and embodying their “100% jerk free” motto. This kind of transparency demonstrates that leadership sees and acknowledges what’s happening at work, while underscoring a commitment to rewarding those who live a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of life.

Be authentic and allow others to do the same. Authenticity in the workplace is not only a hallmark of great office culture, but a staple of wellbeing. Steelcase research shows that the freedom to be “really yourself,” is paramount for leaders desiring to communicate employee worth and promote individuality. So allow workers to bring in photos, plants and items of personal value. When your people get the green light to put their passions on display, your office culture will shine.

Offer choice and control in the office. Giving your team flexibility is crucial to vibrant office culture. Designing an environment offering a palette of places and a palette of postures cannot be underestimated. Allowing workers to choose the location and style of their workspace sends the message that their comfort and productivity trump precedents of the past. Incorporating standing-height tables, walk stations, lounge furniture and group collaboration areas are just a few ways to accomplish this.

promote a palette of postures in your space with buoy

Don’t forget to have fun! Professionals want to enjoy meaningful fun that brings the team together at work. Group softball games, field days and pie eating contests are all part of coworking facility WeWork’s famous summer camp excursion, and are examples of fun activities you can implement, too. Here at turnstone, we come together for holiday potlucks, happy hours and ping pong games. Infusing your space with fun and youthfulness will help you snag the team members you want, and more importantly, keep them.


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