Creating a Great Company Culture
Culture is what we share; it’s the values, goals, attitudes, and practices that make us who we are as an organization. A strong culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture?
Each company has its own unique culture and way of crafting it. The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight.
This article shares our approach and recommendations to create an intentional company culture, offering insights and strategies that any company can apply to nurture a positive environment that leads to success.
What is intentional company culture?
Every company has a culture. While culture may form organically, consistent and intentional cultivation will result in greater success.
Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main styles:
No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture (flexible work or other perks) over performance-based culture (raises and promotions for a job well done), the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference.
In InspiringApps’ infancy, the personalities of the relatively few people involved drove our culture. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to what we’ve come to value—empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees.
Why do your employees need an intentional company culture?
A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture!
In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work.
Creating an intentional company culture requires consistency and time. There is no shortcut.
Intentional company culture benefits from open minds. Influential leaders seek to:
- Understand what employees appreciate and what causes them pain.
- Hear employees’ suggestions for improvement.
- Follow through with promised changes.
- Repeat the above frequently.
Intentional company culture requires commitment from everyone—especially the leadership team. InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth. An InspiringApps employee explains it best:
How To Develop & Maintain a Great Company Culture
Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team. We built our culture slowly and methodically, and we’re proud to celebrate strong retention, with over 40% of our staff staying with us for more than five years.
Among all the lessons we’ve learned, the following best practices stand apart from the rest:
- Promote from within.
- Offer excellent benefits.
- Be inclusive.
- Communicate consistently.
In the following sections, we discuss each best practice in detail and share our experiences to help every company develop and maintain a great culture.
Promote From Within
Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards.
Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team members stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities, and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees can have long tenures at InspiringApps, while remaining competitive. At the same time, we can hire the best candidates for our growing positions right from our own team.
As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team through their tenure.
Offer Excellent Benefits
Many startups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect.
As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401(k) plan with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP).
Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that better reflects the communities we serve.
Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees, which is 20% more than the US average.
Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients.
Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago, that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital—and the efforts to be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection are ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives, and more.
Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the answer. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why.
Open and frequent communication, including standups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. When you share company goals regularly, your employees will feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision-making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling positive communication behaviors in everything they do.
Technology is your ally when it comes to employee engagement. Offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture.
The Value of Culture
InspiringApps nurtures a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity. Our commitment to culture is exemplified by an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years.
Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another. Beyond making InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, our culture is evident in our client relationships and in the apps we create.
Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 15 years, our app development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications serving over 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.
Let’s build something together
Generation Z is a brilliant and forward-thinking generation making a progressive transformation in the world as we know it. Following behind Millennials, they are heavily immersed in the technical landscape and are highly app savvy. They were born into a world of expansion and innovation with creations like the Apple iPhone and Facebook. Having grown up with the ability to access knowledge at the tap of their fingertips, they’re educated individuals with great entrepreneurial goals. They expect companies to anticipate their needs and will move on when they don’t deliver. They’re looking for flawless app design, fast iterations, responsible data collection, creative outlets, and more. Some Facts About Generation Z Born between 1997 and 2012, they’re in the era of self-discovery. Since their youth, Gen Z parents have been navigating the rise of technology and the online privacy issues that come with it; for Gen Z, finding their true selves is no easy task. Due to their immense media consumption, they expect instant gratification and high-speed delivery. As the “mobile generation,” 96% of Gen Zers are reported to own a cellphone—many spend 10 hours plus connected online. They frequent social platforms like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, and other platforms. Gen Zers gravitate to mobile banking apps to serve their financial needs and streamline their tasks. Consequently, email is slowly dying out among this community of users. Generation Z interacts with apps in their lives as a means of communication, to fill a need in their life, and for play and creative expression. They are true digital natives and are hyper-connected to the world around them—making them increasingly self-aware and emotionally reflective. Generation Z also reports high rates of anxiety, depression, and mental challenges—more so than in past generations. Experiencing a global pandemic has only exasperated their mental health struggles. Consequently, prioritizing and addressing mental health is of great importance. Take Oye—a creative wellness app created by singer J Balvin “to make the world feel better.” It’s an app to transform your emotions into creative actions with mind-body practices, daily emotional check-in tools, personalized goal setting, and mindful notifications. Gen Z has proven to be catalyzed citizens who want to make a difference through social responsibility. Their innate understanding of the power of social networks and their regular consumption of news and information has allowed Gen Z to move past the era of Millennial armchair activism. While navigating life in today’s world, Gen Z confidently prioritizes experiences over objects. Considerations in App Development for Generation Z The Generation Z cohort is a significant target for app developers. Being born and raised in the digital age, they are always looking for novel tech to explore. Generation Z represents much larger historical forces at play, driving progressive transformation in the workplace that will redefine the entire generational experience. As a result, this generation has experienced increased globalization, technological advancements, and a fast-paced influx of information. Generation Z is changing the way we build digital experiences. Generation Z is the first generation to merge the digital and physical worlds into one experience. They view the internet as more than just a transaction and instead see it as a human experience. What that means for development is creating intuitive experiences that Gen Zers will love—innovative, straightforward, and seamless. With this information in mind, we’ve identified vital considerations to keep in mind when developing digital products for Generation Z. What Gen Z Consumers Want in An App Obsessively Tested, Flawless Design Gen Zers value efficiency and flawless design. That is why thorough testing and gaining user feedback are paramount. Be sure to ask for feedback from this generation and integrate the user input throughout your app’s development process and in updates. “If the designer doesn’t remove themself and try to see the user’s perspective, they can overly complicate the journey.” AARON LEA, ART DIRECTOR AT INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO Glitchy user interface behaviors and poor design choices are instant turnoffs for Gen Zers. Make your app seamless and flawless from the start, or you may lose your customer. Build your app with swift and straightforward interactions, and don’t reinvent the wheel for every feature within your product—draw inspiration from apps that are already working. By sticking with best practices and standard features and anticipating your users’ desires, your users will navigate more intuitively and stick around for more. Fast Iterations Gen Z consumers have grown up in a fast-paced digital world and value convenience and efficiency. They prefer mobile apps that offer quick and uninterrupted experiences, such as fast loading times, easy checkout processes, and streamlined workflows. Keep your app low on data—fast to download and delete. Control Over Their Digital Footprint Gen Zers quickly went from a private world to everything constantly being shared online. In their formative years, they grew up with little technology at their disposal. They were thrust into a world of hyper-technology and interconnectedness as time progressed. With that in mind, here are essential factors to keep at the forefront of your app development: Privacy Settings Gen Z should be able to manage their privacy settings on apps. This type of functionality includes having the ability to choose whether their information is shared publicly or only with specific individuals and having the option to limit the usage of their personal data. Data Transparency Gen Z should have clear access and information about what data is collected, how it’s used, and to whom it gets shared. Responsible Data Collection It’s essential to ensure that Gen Zers’ personal data is protected from data breaches and cyber threats. Apps should implement robust security practices to keep user data safe. Value-Add Through Personalization You can add value with personalization by using various technologies, such as saving login information, geolocation, machine learning, and AI, to cater to the specific needs of Gen Z. It is crucial to find a proper balance in incorporating personalization that genuinely adds value, without overdoing it. Here are a few core components to adding value through personalization: Saving Login Information Gen Z is all about convenience, and one way to provide that is by saving their login information. By doing so, you not only save them time but also provide a straightforward user journey. Geolocation Gen Z consumers are constantly on the go and expect a personalized experience based on their location. Using geolocation technology, you can offer tailored recommendations, promotions, and content based on their location. Machine Learning & AI If you want to better understand your Gen Z customers, machine learning can be a potent tool. By analyzing their data, you can personalize their experience and provide the results they seek—before they even ask. AI and machine learning are great tools for automating manual tasks as well. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in many ways to develop apps for Gen Z. Here are some ways to incorporate ML and AI in your app to improve its performance: Personalized Recommendations: ML algorithms can provide customized recommendations to Gen Z users based on their interests, behaviors, and preferences. Chatbots & Virtual Assistants: With natural language processing (NLP) techniques, it’s now possible to create bots that can interact with Gen Z users in a way that feels just like talking to a real person. Bots can help users with tasks such as scheduling, finding information, or making purchases on their mobile devices. Image & Video Recognition: Computer vision techniques can be used to recognize images and videos, which can be helpful in apps such as social media platforms, gaming, or e-commerce. Predictive Modeling: Predictive modeling techniques can be used to forecast future behaviors and trends. For instance, a news app can predict which articles will be most popular among Gen Z users. Predictive modeling ensures your app stays ahead of the curve. Voice Recognition: Voice recognition techniques can be used to develop voice-enabled apps and devices that can be controlled with voice commands. This technology can be helpful in apps such as virtual assistants, smart home devices, or hands-free gaming. ML and AI can help app developers create more engaging, personalized, and interactive apps for Gen Z users. By leveraging these technologies, app developers can improve the user experience and stay ahead of the competition. Creative Tools More than half of Gen Zers believe they are more creative than previous generations. Most of them engage in creative activities in their free time. Gen Z is a highly creative generation that values individuality and self-expression. Therefore, niche tools enabling creativity are essential for creating apps that resonate with them. Concluding Thoughts on Developing Apps for Gen Z Gen Zers have a unique vantage point when it comes to app development. They’ve experienced the best of both worlds—an era of privacy merged with hyper-connectedness. They are vicarious app consumers, making them ideal customers for app developers. Brands that take the time to understand their Gen Z users’ behaviors, motivations, preferences, and expectations will experience significant growth. Considering the above considerations, one can ensure that their app hits the mark with this brilliant and forward-thinking generation. Gen Z wants more than just an app. They crave a unique experience that fulfills their daily needs and brings joy. The app should leave them feeling special and enhance their well-being. At InspiringApps, we stay on the pulse and ahead of the curve to bring you the most forward-thinking and trending app development insights. If you have any questions or thoughts on the above material—we’d be delighted to connect!
21 days ago
Boulder, CO—In the latest article from Built In Colorado, InspiringApps’ Creative Director, Aaron Lea, shares his advice on creating simplified user journeys within digital products. How To Simplify User Journeys When do you know it’s time to simplify your product’s user journey? When we design digital apps, we’re always looking for ways to simplify the user journey. Limiting the number of interactions users have to make is a best practice for most apps. The more users have to drill down into extra screens, the more likely they are to leave. I like to think of it this way: design the app like you’re in the Target parking lot and about to go inside the store to buy Tide Pods. As a user, I want to be in and out as quickly as possible. A quick exchange that’s easy for me to use means I’m more prone to open the app the next time I’m in that Target parking lot. It’s often the case that apps are downloaded, opened once, and then deleted. These apps are too cluttered, and people won’t reuse them. On the other hand, when users know it doesn’t take too long to accomplish a task—no guided tours they’re more likely to use the app. A simple experience is a successful experience. Unless we’re creating something like TikTok, we aren’t designing the app to keep users in it. We’re here to help users achieve something or access a specific feature. The fewer interactions it takes to accomplish that, the better the journey. What process do you use to identify opportunities for simplification? App design is an art that involves trusting your instincts. I like to think of this process as similar to editing a script. Editors are great at identifying what’s essential and getting rid of clutter. But their real goal is staying true to what makes the script great—and amplifying that by revealing only what needs to be there. For example, an app may have a component that mirrors the functionality of Slack or Youtube. These are established popular apps. And even the best digital products aren’t going to lure people away from them. Any project, whether it’s designing an app or a home improvement project, can be subject to scope creep. Is that feature really needed? Was it added at the last minute? We all get distracted in the creative journey, and the risk is that we keep getting further away from—or even lose sight of—the reason we started, the problem we wanted to solve. We need to stay true to what inspired us in the beginning to create the app. ART DIRECTOR, AARON LEA | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO What are some common traps designers can fall into that result in an overly complicated user journey? One trap is elevating ego over empathy. If the designer doesn’t remove themself and try to see the user’s perspective, they can overly complicate the journey. Designers must constantly evolve, challenge themselves, and put themselves in others’ shoes. ART DIRECTOR, AARON LEA | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO Another trap could be the designer finding a new design tool or method they want to use and deciding to use it in a particular product. Novelty is not a substitute for suitability. A good rule of thumb is, don’t force it if it doesn’t deserve to be there. Sometimes, designers get set in their ways. Just because it worked last time doesn’t mean it will work this time too. Or conversely, designers may reinvent the wheel. If the design worked the first time, there’s no need to rethink it. Time management is critical. With mobile apps, people remember the launch, the middle, and the endpoint. A trap could be spending too much time on incidental interstitial areas. Don’t focus all your time there. Take that time and instead pick the three most vital sections—the app’s beginning, the middle, and its exit—and make those experiences ones that keep users coming back. Meet InspiringApps’ Creative Director Aaron Lea We believe that Inspired Employees Make InspiringApps and that our diverse backgrounds, skills, hobbies, and perspectives are what make us a stronger team. Aaron Lea finds his inspiration steeped in pop culture, a tradition of art in his family, and a creative digital design process that enables him to put novel creations back into the world and inspire others as a result.
1 month ago