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Why building a transparent company culture can drive staff engagement

Rant & Rave founder Nigel Shanahan explains why he places so much emphasis on transparency and staff engagement to build the right company culture.
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Fresh from our all-company reward trip to Bestival, we have just returned back to the office. The annual company away day has become a hotly anticipated staple in our team calendar, great for staff engagement – and this year was bigger and better than before.

Our employees work hard all year-round – so for those that meet and exceed their targets, I believe it’s important to reward them.

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As a founder of a company, I’ve always believed you should practice what you preach. Every day, we work with leading global brands to help improve their own customer engagement; importantly gathering feedback and acting on it. An important part of the senior management’s role is to turn the tables and find new ways in which we can regularly practice what we preach, whether it is improving internal employee engagement, productivity or satisfaction.

Transparency is key for staff engagement

Building a company from the bottom up is by no means an easy thing to do. Not only are you dependent on revenue and profit – but more importantly, you need to ensure that you are retaining a strong team around you.

I believe that success comes down to creating an open and honest company culture. After all, for many businesses, your people are your products and your brand.

Transparency in communications and accessibility across the board is vital when creating a company culture where employees can share concerns, constructive feedback or ways to improve daily practices. In my experience, an open forum to share these discussions is beneficial to driving staff engagement and productivity – everyone who works at Rant & Rave is valued, and their contributions are important to the growth of the business.

To help with this effort, we use weekly internal emails where questions from our employees can be emailed directly to the board – who will then feedback their response, typically within a week. We also use a text messaging system in a similar way. Questions and thoughts can be sent via text message whether it is an issue an employee may be concerned with, or if they have constructive feedback, either way a prompt response will be given. This not only ensures that colleagues know that they can receive a speedy response but it also ensures that the senior management team are aware of the day-to-day successes and concerns of employees at all levels.

I find that by creating an open and honest arena, to share what is on everybody’s minds, is a great way to build staff engagement and find quick resolutions for any issues.

Rewarding your team

If they’re working hard and living the brand, I love to reward staff. I feel they work as hard as they can routinely all year-round and produce fantastic, award-winning results for our clients. We believe that using incentives for hitting targets is a good way to boost employee productivity. An example being that if annual targets are met and exceeded, then everybody involved in achieving that result will be invited to come along on our company trip – which has included places like Miami and Lisbon in the past.

We win and lose together

I am a big fan of Richard Branson’s company culture philosophy that making employees the top priority can bring benefits for both customers and investors. He was able to build Virgin into the global powerhouse that it is today by focusing specifically on customer service. At the core of his organisation are his employees – and I want to model Rant & Rave on just that. Our employees will always be our top priority.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to,” Branson once said.

Ultimately, our employees are a team. Nobody works alone – a strong team will always produce better results than a lone individual. It is essential that for every win, we celebrate and for every loss, we don’t blame – but look at how we can work better as a team to produce better results for next time.

As no doubt many company founders will find, one of the most challenging aspects is growing the team whilst ensuring everyone is still living the brand. As such, earlier this month the team at Rant & Rave has pitched in together to create a set of core, collaborative company values. We have decided that customer success isn’t just our objective, but our obsession. We’re all proud and passionate about what we do and work together as one team, on one mission: to create ravers.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.

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About Author

Nigel Shanahan

Nigel Shanahan is founder and chairman of customer engagement company Rant & Rave. He started the company in 2000 after having a miserable experience at a motorway service station and wishing he could tell the company how he felt. The company now works with over half of the FTSE enabling brands to create more meaningful relationships with customers and act on feedback.

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