Designing Your Budget for Culture: Insider Tips

Aug 24

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There’s a lot of thinking and planning to be done when it comes to designing your budget for culture in your company. While culture and relationships among employees will tend to grow organically, there is still much you can do when it comes to budgeting to provide space for that culture to thrive. We asked Jonas (CFO at Thriver) and Adriana (HR Manager at Thriver) for their top tips to share with you.

We’ve learned from our foibles as kids that authentic relationships can’t be forced — you can’t make someone be your BFF. Though a long way from the playground to the office, relationships between employees can’t be forced either. You can’t throw everyone into the same room under the strict mandate that they be friends and expect your company’s culture to sprout thereby. Because at the end of the day, people are complex and no one likes being told what to enjoy, especially whom to forge friendships with. 

“You want people to be invested in what they’re doing,” 

Jonas, CFO at Thriver

Jonas defines culture as a two-way street, it flows from the executive level to the employee level, and vice versa. Culture facilitates this investment, and drives passion. Furthermore, when employees come together over a meal or a round of drinks,  opportunities for future collaboration and the incubation of brilliant ideas spark.

Because much in the way that people are complex and unique, each company’s culture is also idiosyncratic and vibrant as its employees. This unique culture, however, stems from the ideological and budgetary groundwork you lay, which ultimately will be informed by your company’s core identity.

What do your employees value?

This question sets you up for a great start when designing your budget for culture. Gathering feedback about the benefits and activities that your employees value will set you up for success. 

A young workforce may not be interested in having an amazing healthcare plan and value more social activities, or virtual experiences that involve fitness activities, like bootcamps or yoga classes. While the parents at your company might value having a benefit plan that includes healthcare and a culture that accommodates their needs for a flexible schedule.

Knowing what your team values, will have a greater impact on the team’s engagement with the company, affecting them from day to day.

Consider and formulate your company’s core values

A company’s core values initially stem from the executive level, from the leaders of the company. These values and goals pertain to what the leaders want to accomplish for their customers, their partners and for their employees

“What type of experience do you want employees to have while they’re working for you? Is it important for your philosophy as a company that people are happy while working with you, or that they have fun, or that their health and wellness are attended to?”  

Adriana, HR Manager at Thriver.

These foundational values will impact your business on the hiring level, and by extension will determine the kind of culture that eventually germinates among your employees. Once you have determined your north star, you will be in a better position to, later on in the life of your business,  work with your employees to establish goals and values collectively, all in a way that will be amenable to the uniqueness of your business as a whole. 

Invest beyond professional development

While developing employees’ skills on a professional is amazing, and fostering their growth is a win-win situation, it’s also important to invest in a team’s lifestyle. “I think that a key part of culture is creating a lifestyle for employees to be effective and to be productive,” Jonas says. He adds that when employers invest in their employees’ lifestyles, the organic growth of a company’s culture is furthered. 

Whether it be through support for employees through a Treat Card or opportunities for engaging in fun group activities virtually, investing in your employees’ lifestyles provides an abundance of opportunities for creativity, bonding, and cooperation. And these bonds can in turn feed into and improve the values and goals developed on the executive level. 

The role of internal committees in shaping culture 

While putting money aside to provide opportunities for employees to make meaningful bonds is certainly a great way to foster your company’s culture, keep in mind that there are other more budget-friendly means through which you can stimulate that je ne sais quoi that makes your team vibrant and passionate. 

“To have a successful, productive team and to have an effective culture that runs throughout the organization, it’s ultimately about people,” 

Jonas, CFO at Thriver

Employees on all levels of an organization need to feel that they are contributing to the working environment that they’re an important part of. 

“So it’s about having different types of committees,” Jonas adds. “There can be athletic group committees, there can be a meditation committee, there can be a committee devoted to workplace equality. There can be a bunch of different types of organizations or groups that facilitate and create culture.” When everyone was working from an office pre-pandemic, it was easier to take a break and invite a colleague to go for a walk around the block. In work-from-home situations, this same initiative can be taken in smaller groups. Teams on different levels or departments of the organization can have assigned coffee-dates, where members go out for coffee with someone they don’t usually hang out with — this can go a long way toward gelling your employees and fostering a feeling of solidarity. At Thriver, we have weekly donut dates either via Zoom or in person. Teams can also hold meetings in a park, change up the environment and get the creative juices flowing. 

Foster care through the small things

“It’s really the small things that can have an everlasting effect on the manner in which your company’s culture grows”, Jonas says. Something like sharing family pictures over a Zoom meeting, helping colleagues create work spaces in their homes, and even providing your employees with useful items with the company’s logo on it, can help employees and employers remember that we’re all going through this strange time together. 

Show your team that you care, and allow them the space to provide consideration and support for each other. Care, at the end of the day, is probably the most integral part of the culture that your employees craft and actively want to partake of. 

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