Corporate culture on a budget

Although sparking a corporate culture movement is not easy, it most certainly is a worthwhile investment as it can change employee productivity, engagement and loyalty to a company.  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh considers company culture to be the #1 thing CEO’s should focus on for long-term success. At Zappos, 50% of what employees are evaluated on is their fit in the company culture. From Hsieh’s standpoint, if the culture is right everything else will fall into place.

I know what you’re thinking. In this tough economy, who has the budget to prioritize culture? But building a fantastic corporate culture doesn’t have to be costly! put together a list of fantastic ways to improve your culture without having to dig too far into corporate budgets. Check out what’s Queen of Fun and Laughter, Lara Morrow, (that is her real title) has put together!

1. Create a culture of the people, for the people, by the people

It’s very important that company leadership doesn’t just decide strategic plans and let them rain down from on high. It costs $0 to ask your employees what kind of programs and work environment are best for them. Survey, analyze, enact, and repeat.

2. Give employees space to care

Employees wanted to raise funds to help a coworker who was going through a difficult time. So they took up a collection and then used those funds to buy supplies to host a cookout to sell burgers and hot dogs to the whole company. This kind of initiative tripled the amount raised and went toward something that was important to our employees. Cost to the company? The space and support for employees to act.

3. Bridge the moat around the corner office with sandwiches

Our senior leadership team has a regular lunch called Chat n’ Chews. We sit down informally with a small group of employees from across the company and talk about what’s going on in the business. The casual setup makes employees feel comfortable to bring up concerns or new ideas. Price to the company? Lunch.

4. Buy really cheap stuff

We’ve sourced culture items like balloons, gold and silver cardboard stars, Hawaiian grass skirts, etc. We talked with employees and worked their contacts to get the best deal on things we wanted to bring into the office. Cost to the company for culture items? Much less than you’d expect.

5. Free to be me

We threw out our corporate guidelines for office and cubicle displays and let our people create spaces they enjoyed. I (Lara) have at least 20 posters of Jon Bon Jovi in my office. Cost to let your people build the atmosphere they work best in? Nothing.

6. Pour energy into the office

We take care to make sure that our whole building is upbeat. Sit down and critically evaluate what your space looks and feels like. The best decorations we have are pictures of our own employees simply having a good time being with each other. Price tag? Some frames and nails.

7. Take silliness seriously

Theme days, dress-up days, contests, and even coordinated teasing of executives keeps our culture loose, fast, and fun. Pay attention to popular shows and pop culture and coordinate an event that capitalizes on what’s hot out in the world. Cost to the company? Some boxes and poster paper.

What do you think makes a positive impact on culture, but doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet?


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