“To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.” – Zappos

The culture of a company can affect employees’ happiness and productivity. When an employee is unhappy, not only are they suffering, but the employer is too. With both parties standing to lose, it’s no wonder culture is being discussed more than ever today. But why does company culture matter and how should you decide when yours needs to be revamped?

First, consider a few facts – unhappy employees (or “actively disengaged” ) cost American businesses between $450 and $500 billion each year! According to a Columbia University study, company culture is a whopping 48.4 percent of whether an employee leaves or stays at an organization. Even Ariana Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, stepped down to launch a company committed to “accelerating culture shifts that allow people (and companies) to reclaim their lives and move from merely surviving to thriving.”

Here at Van Eperen, our agency is about exceptional client service. We also recognize the importance of our employees' values and strive to make company culture a priority. Culture is more than free lunches and activities (although finding out I’m a professional bowler at our latest culture activity was pretty cool, or was that our managing director Jeff? Still TBD). It is about the mission, values, beliefs and environment that ultimately reflect the culture of a company.

We all can’t be Google, which has become a role model for many due to its perks and benefits that other startups are known for today. But we can be the best that WE can be!

If you don’t know where to start, begin by assessing the current state of your company culture by:

Listening. Foster a safe environment for employees to be open, voice their concerns and share solutions.

Planning outings. Promote comradeship outside of the workplace. We loVE happy hour!

Surveying the land. Have formal checkpoints. You can never fulfill your potential as an employer without feedback from the people who play a pivotal role in your organization. There are plenty of tools out there to help you accomplish this.

Finding the perfect fit. Don’t hire just to fill a position. Hire someone who is invested and committed to your mission.

My life mantra is stay ready so you do not have to get ready. If you are constantly measuring your employee engagement you will be able to better anticipate the needs of your company. After all, measurement is how we get shattering results for clients!