Warby Parker's winning company culture

The Company Culture Tips to Steal from Warby Parker

Ohana Editor Blog

So often, we hear stories about companies with giant budgets supplying employees with arcade games and unlimited gourmet snacks. But some perks are just not practical or they’re too extreme for most companies. Fortunately, by taking a few tips from the Warby Parker employee engagement process, a winning culture is easily attainable. These five tactics are perfect for companies looking to realistically build a culture that’s close-knit, happy, and actively engaged.

1. Make Onboarding Everyone’s Responsibility

No matter what type of industry you’re in, the first day on the job can feel really weird for new hires. Helping them get plugged in to your company culture shouldn’t be left to just one mentor or person in HR. Organizations with high levels of engagement know that onboarding requires “all hands on deck.”

A warm welcome on day one—and throughout those first couple weeks—is a surefire way to get new team members integrated. Yet all too often, new hires are left to introduce themselves around the office on their own. Companies like Warby Parker work to turn that practice inside out. Instead, they put the responsibility of introductions onto everyone else. Whenever someone new is brought on board, they’ll attach an eye-catching balloon to their desk. That way, other employees get the hint to say hello. It’s a smart solution because the new hires get to be the popular ones without having to break the ice themselves.

2. Celebrate the Good Times (and the Flops)

Building an engaged workforce also means you don’t skimp on any special occasions. It helps to look at employee relationships like other meaningful relationships in your life. After all, we don’t ignore birthdays with family members or anniversaries with our significant others. So, bring that same emotional connection to your work-life. Recognizing those dates and other milestones around the office helps reinforce team spirit year-round.

Warby Parker takes this a step further by encouraging employees to nominate co-workers who go above-and-beyond with their service. It’s especially useful if these celebrations directly relate back to the type of culture you’re looking to build. For example, if your organization values creativity and risk-taking, you might consider a separate award to recognize a team member’s efforts to think out-of-the-box—even if they fail! Designing special awards like a silly trophy or company mascot can be a great motivator to both surprise and delight your employees.

Purchasing gift-cards for outstanding work is nice, but whenever possible, try to come up with a truly personalized reward. Cake and cookies won’t always have the same emotional appeal as a new set of headphones for the office music buff, or a massage certificate for a someone who loves spa-days.

3. Encourage Curiosity for New Skill Sets

It’s great to get into a rhythm at work because that often means things are clicking along smoothly. But sometimes, it helps to shake things up. Being able to grow and improve your team (and your bottom-line) takes time and practice. And in order to do that, your organization needs to shine the spotlight on curiosity.

Allowing your employees to investigate new interests doesn’t just keep them fulfilled—it can help spark new ideas and inspire innovation. Continuing education doesn’t have to be limited to a team member’s specific department either. You can support learning in many different facets. Warby Parker employees appreciate the annual “WarbyCon” as a way to showcase their passions in a TED-style conference. Doing so can help spark deeper engagement for the company as a whole. (Plus, it’s great practice for public speaking.)

Your organization might also benefit from quarterly fieldtrips or other volunteer service activities that get people out of the office and working together in new ways. Mixing up the typical workday keeps things exciting, so don’t think team-building needs to stay in-house. Help employees get excited about coming in to work each day by putting a spin on the typical routine every now and then. Learning how to oil paint, going whitewater rafting, or shadowing in a different department can help ignite new conversations and friendships for a more vibrant and dynamic culture.

4. Rally Behind a Common Mission

Your company’s mission statement shouldn’t be a phrase that’s glossed over in your employee handbook. Put your “why” front and center in everything your team does so it ultimately becomes a rally cry for your culture. A carefully-crafted mission will be a beacon that draws top talent to your organization, too. Infuse it into your daily conversations and refer to it during goal-setting to help keep everyone unified and on-task.

If you haven’t reviewed your mission in a couple years (or ever), take some time to think it over. Odds are, that forgotten mission statement will feel stale and uninspired. If that’s the case, it’s okay to toss it and start over with something more modern. Warby Parker’s mission statement includes the words “rebellious” and “revolutionary.” They also admit to having a “lofty objective.” In a lot of ways, the bolder your phrase is, the better. As long as it rings true for the type of work and emotional vibe your team wants to embrace, it’s probably a winner.

5. Streamline Your Communication Process

Good communication is truly the driving factor behind strong organizations. Keeping everyone in the know is critical if you want to keep employees focused and engaged. That holds true for in-house team members as well as folks working remotely. A streamlined communication process works to get everyone get on the same page—no matter where they are.

Communication isn’t just about letting employees know when the next quarterly meeting will take place. Strong company cultures know how to communicate their mission effectively, and they’re having constructive conversations all the time. It means you’re utilizing different channels to encourage learning, announce new hires, and let people know about that upcoming celebration. Regular, consistent communication from leadership, and the opportunity to touch base with co-workers in casual settings goes far beyond project deadlines and other administrative duties. Open communication means you’re building a tight community and talking with each other (for work and fun) every day.

If you’re looking to give your employees a better way to connect and build a welcoming, supportive culture, a platform like Ohana can help. With regular workplace tips and fun ways to collaborate with team members, Ohana is leading the way for engaged workforces and happy cultures.Isn’t it time to kick your company culture into high gear? Request a free demo of Ohana today to learn more!