Everyone talks about company culture. Some of the biggest companies go to great lengths to advertise the culture they promote by highlighting perks, such as free lunches or an in-office gym. Sure, those options are great — no one says no to free lunch, after all — but the most important component of positive company culture is whether employees realize that they’re being taken care of. In other words, a great culture needs great benefits.
How can benefits play a role in culture building? It all comes down to giving people what they want: flexibility combined with great health care.
Your employees are going to get sick, have babies and need to leave work early when their 7-year-old gets hurt at school — this is a given. To truly promote a positive culture, your employees need the peace of mind that assures them they’ll have adequate health insurance to back them up when these things happen. It’s important to ask yourself: Does your insurance cover the bare minimum required by the law, or does it meet the actual needs of your employees?
Different workforces have different needs, and it’s essential that your health plan actually meets employees’ expectations. For instance, if you’re a small business where everyone lives within five miles of the office, it’s fine to have a health insurance plan that requires you to use the local hospital except for emergencies. But if you have a lot of staff members who work remotely or commute from an hour away, you may want to offer a plan with a more traditional, broader network of providers.
Employee Assistance Programs
Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are an often-overlooked benefit, but making them available lets your workforce know you support them in all aspects of their lives without being intrusive. A great EAP can help employees through many issues, including some that aren’t work-related such as mental health, marital strife, financial planning and finding a lawyer if they need one.
When your employees know there’s help available for them in virtually any circumstance, this will foster the positivity that helps create great company culture. Remember many health plans include an EAP.
The Finer Details
Company culture isn’t just about making major gestures to create a positive work environment: It’s also about the small, everyday details. These include everything from offering food during meetings and encouraging managers to say hello to new employees in the hallway to having the company president strive to learn everyone’s name. In short, benefits, perks and other offerings play a big part in showing off your positive culture, but these other types of actions have much more to do with day-in, day-out management style.
People who handle HR functions on your team can set the stage for both of these approaches to establishing culture. They can arrange for perks, and they can also encourage open communication by fostering an open-door policy. Ensuring that employees feel comfortable with management will have a tremendous impact on the overall atmosphere of your business.
When you’re trying to create a great company culture, focus on the everyday perks alongside the big-picture benefits. Both are hugely important for setting the right tone at your workplace and creating the best possible experience for your employees.
Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.