Business Viewpoint with Craig McElwain: Creating a cool workplace culture

Patrick Lencioni said, “Being smart is only half the equation in a successful organization. … The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.”

A unique culture that increases morale and minimizes turnover is part of being healthy. Every company has an internal culture that sets the tone of the company. This drives how co-workers interact, how the public views an organization as well as the final product or service of a company. Therefore, leadership initiative is key to defining what their company is all about.

Hiring is a two-way conversation: Culture starts with leadership, but hiring the right employees is key to sustaining that culture. Not only do you want to hire the most qualified person for the job, you also want to hire the right fit.

At Oklahoma Chiller, we take our time when bringing in someone new. We believe it’s hard to know someone in just one or two interview sessions. Therefore, we take extra steps to get to know the person behind the resume and allow them to get to know us.

Dave Ramsey says, “You have to be willing to wait for the perfect person — one who shares your values, work ethic, etc.” At his company, team members are interviewed an average of eight or nine times before getting the job, with the process usually taking three to four months.

Our process includes scheduling several interview sessions and structuring them as conversations versus the usual interview process and traditional questions. We also try to introduce candidates to several people during their interview sessions so that each candidate is given ample opportunity to get to know the company.

It is just as important that they determine if the environment is a good fit and a place they want to work, as it is for the company to evaluate them.

Employee development: Professional development and career growth are important to most employees. At Oklahoma Chiller, we want all of our employees to believe that they will always have an opportunity to grow, develop and advance with the company. In fact, our goal is to give them every reason to stay and eventually retire here.

The cost of replacing an employee is approximately 30 percent to 50 percent of that employee’s salary. Therefore, employee retention dramatically impacts the bottom line of any organization.

Continually creating avenues for development opportunities fosters employee satisfaction and increases retention. Employee development keeps your employees sharp and up to date on industry standards, trends and practices. It also improves the company’s final product and overall service to its customers. If employees are happy, that translates to happy customers.

Beyond the job: Another way to enhance company culture is to go the extra mile and care for employees and the community beyond the job. When a full-time employee spends 40-plus hours each week at work, their co-workers become a second family, and we believe they should be treated as such. The health and well-being of everyone at an organization depends on us understanding their personal and professional needs.

With that, it’s important that employees have community involvement opportunities. It can be hard to find time to give back while working a full-time job with a family. If employees have the opportunity to give back at work, they feel more connected to their hometown as well as the company. This flexibility is invaluable to any team. Serving and investing time into creating a better community helps employees feel more committed to a company.

The big picture: When creating a strong company culture, it boils down to communicating with employees and keeping them engaged. Share and demonstrate the vision of the company so that employees clearly understand their role and why they come to work each day.

But don’t solely focus on the work. Engaged and educated employees tend to be more devoted workers and will have loyalty with a company. A strong company culture provides the basis for why employees enjoy their job on a daily basis.

Craig McElwain is CEO of Oklahoma Chiller.

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