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In the fast-forward world of a growth-oriented business, your whole team needs to focus like a laser on the prime objective – bringing in the dollars. This can be grueling, especially for startups that are racing against time to achieve liftoff. That’s why having a solid company culture and a shared mission is vital to keeping your team engaged and performing well.

Increasingly, business leaders are tuning in to the importance of culture. New job opportunities are everywhere, and your best talent won’t be as compelled to stick around as they might have been a decade ago. For many, it’s a strong corporate culture of engagement that attracts – and keeps – team members sticking around for long.

But culture is hard to pin down. It’s a mix of shared values, vision and mythology. You can’t mandate it; you have to live it. And many startup founders who think their culture is solid are just deceiving themselves.

The data shows that employee engagement remains a critical, elusive challenge for business. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report shows that in recent years, only one-third of the US’s full-time employees are engaged at work. In the rest of the world, the average is about half of that.

Image source: Gallup.com

 

Companies that succeed in hacking employee engagement are companies that succeed. Engaged employees are more productive, less likely to quit, more willing to contribute new ideas, and more creative. But it doesn’t take a top-to-bottom makeover of your org chart to improve employee engagement. In fact, you may already have some of the tools you need.

The app market has exploded for businesses, with some highly specific and wildly creative ways to improve workflow and meet goals. And many of them – like the nine gems below – have an added bonus. Using them consistently can help improve employee engagement and strengthen your corporate culture.

Start employing a few of these apps in strategic ways, and watch the culture change organically.

Get your team sharing and caring

According to Hinge Research’s 2016 report, 85% of employees in firms that have an employee advocacy program in place report that it’s helped their career. Smarp is a leading employee advocacy platform that makes it easy for employees to participate in your company’s social media marketing, and it does so by creating a kind of “social intranet.”

Users can browse posts according to topic-dedicated tabbed feeds, so it’s easy to discuss initiatives on the fly and gain a sense of what’s happening across departments. Posts can include content curated by leadership for sharing with the general public – or “for internal reading only” discussions, like the one below, to help people feel invested in their company’s culture and objectives. As recently pointed out on Smarp’s blog, the best cultures are those that are built collaboratively.

Smarp

Scrum-style performance reviews

Formalized annual performance reviews are, thankfully, falling out of vogue, while immediate and constant feedback is on the rise. A culture of continuous feedback, instead of a formal yearly review, can open the door to more productive and more engaged employees. And it’s lighter on management, too.

Impraise is an app that allows your team to drive continuous feedback and immediate reviews. Adopting this kind of feedback into your company culture will keep employees engaged year-round, instead of keeping the focus on those times of year when scrutiny is known to spike.

Get transparent with goals

Transparency can be a game changer for any team, which is why business dashboard app Cyfe offers a “TV mode” version, perfect for displaying KPIs in real time on office walls. This helps everyone on your team get the information they need to understand company goals and see how their own work is moving the needle. Even Pied Piper uses Cyfe.

Cyfe lets you use pre-fab widgets to easily display data from dozens of platforms, including leading apps for tracking your company’s finances, project deliverables, email and social media traction, sales pipeline and website engagement. You can also build your own custom widgets to help display whatever metrics are most important to the specifics of your startup’s culture.

Pied piper Cyfe

Play likes it’s your day job

According to the folks behind The Go Game, traditional team building is often forced and mind-rollingly boring. This app aims to change that, helping team members uncover new skills. This can help to reveal the true creative potential of your teams.

At its core, The Go Game is a new kind of team building exercise that combines tech, exploration, and creativity. When you know your team members better, collaboration is more fluid and relaxed. And a little friendly competition never hurts.

Build a safety net of success the office

Leaders at companies with strong corporate cultures understand the importance of making work feel “safe” for all team members. For example, Google’s Project Aristotle has spent years researching and defining the things that truly build a feeling of teamwork and the associated productivity and performance results that flow from it. They call it “psychological safety,” and they believe that teams with higher than average social sensitivity perform better.

Jobvibe offers an app that helps enforce this culture point via morale tracking, helping team members stay in touch, uncover issues, and work together to solve them. It’s all done via quick survey clicks, too, so no one will get bogged down with cumbersome data entry. Think of it as a “net promoter score” collector for team functioning.

Jobvibe

You’re in This Together

You don’t have to spend a ton of money or invest a lot of time to improve your startup’s culture and create a more engaged team. Some of the simplest approaches are also the most effective. Listen to your employees, take their concerns and issues seriously, and do what you can to improve the situation.

By using apps like these that improve communication, make goals more transparent, and foster personal engagement, your corporate culture can thrive – before you run out of runway.

Hira Saeed Hira Saeed
(@heerasaeed) Founder of Tech Geeks Pakistan and Digital Doers. Hira is also a public speaker and columnist who shares her views on Startups, AI, chatbots and Blockchain technology on VentureBeat, The Next Web and Tech In Asia.