Zendesk: how to preserve company culture during rapid growth

Daniel Bailey, Zendesk
- Leadership - Nov 16, 2016

The culture of your business is its foundation. It gives it a greater purpose and affects the way you lead, the way your employees work and the way others perceive your company.

As a business develops and the headcount grows, its culture becomes vulnerable to dilution, and can be overlooked or even forgotten. These changes include a shift in focus, strategic expansion and agility in adapting to rising competition. They are fundamental in remaining competitive but can quickly make you lose sight of the very visions you first had when starting out. It is important to prioritise company culture whilst progressing, as it is a vital element in the foundation of your business.

Research has shown that 64 percent of employees do not feel that they are working at an organisation which has a strong work culture. This is important to address, but first the meaning of ‘a strong work culture’ should be defined. Company culture is an unspoken social contract that everyone within your business signs up to. It’s about how you treat employees and general consumers as well as how you treat the community. Be different, make it count and stand for something that you can be known for as a business. Take Google for example, its strong company culture is famous worldwide. It is viewed as being fun, innovative, and collaborative with employees, as well as forward thinking. This has made it a popular business that many strive to work with.

Ensuring your company’s core values are kept intact at the top should trickle down to every level of employee within the business. It will shape the way in which they work, giving them that extra something that brings a fresh impact to clients. This will maintain the distinctive place your organisation holds within its market and gives employees a greater sense of purpose whilst at work. There are various ways to maintain this culture as a business develops.

Sow the seed: giving your employees something to work for

Firstly, it is important to embed a rewarding and thriving culture at the initial stage of an employee’s journey with your business.  Employees are the face of your company and the carriers of your vision. Let’s be honest, your business wouldn’t run if it wasn’t for them.

Ensuring that your employees are on board with your company’s culture begins at the hiring process. It’s here that you can find out what they are capable of and how they can add value to your business. Use this opportunity to imprint the principles of your company and find out how they can contribute to keeping it alive and thriving.

Have you ever heard of the saying, if you look after your employees, your employees will look after you? Well it’s more than just a statement. Initially engage your employees with their role and give them something meaningful to work for in addition to their pay cheque. This will increase staff satisfaction, as well as inspire productivity and better customer service.

Water your crops: keeping culture alive

Your company’s culture shouldn’t stop at the interview stage; it should be a continuous priority and form the foundation of how your company is run.

Keep your employees inspired and find a way to incorporate your company principles into day-to-day activities. Whether it’s through a motto, training or themed days, keep the core values at the heart of your company to ensure it is continuously thriving.

Watch your business blossom: the difference

Business leaders often feed into the misconception that consumers are only concerned with price, or negative customer experiences; however consumers do care about the values that companies are founded on. According to research conducted by Sustainable Brands, 82 per cent of consumers say they would make personal sacrifices to address social and environmental issues, which shows how supportive customers are of brands with a good cause embedded within its culture.

Integrating company culture into the customer service experience you provide will also make your business more memorable. It will help to create a unique, emotive bond with your customer that keeps them coming back to you, even if your product could be found cheaper elsewhere or in a more convenient location.

Growth within any business is welcomed, and as it continues your work load will grow, time will become sparse and you may feel the need to prioritise tasks that will ensure the business ticks over smoothly. But don’t forget the reasons why you started your business in the first place and the things that make your business one of a kind. These factors are what keeps your company competitive and attracts customers, employees and partners.

By Daniel Bailey, Director of Northern Europe, Zendesk

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