When brothers Seth and Noah Goodman started Northstar Recycling five years ago as a spin-off from a family business that was started in 1896, they wanted to make an impact. Not only were they looking to help the environment with their solutions to help companies with large manufacturing and distribution centers recycle more and landfill less, but they wanted to make an impact on their employees’ lives.
With accolades ranging from one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women to Fortune’s list of 50 Best Workplaces for Camaraderie as well as achieving multi-millions of dollars in sales, these brothers know a thing or two about building a great business by investing in culture.
Below are five of Seth and Noah Goodman’s top suggestions for building an award-winning company culture.
1. Live core values.
The Goodman brothers believe that culture is more than just hiring people who get along or sponsoring weekly free lunches -- which they also do. They say that culture starts with establishing a shared belief system, including key values that you want your company and its employees to embody every day.
At Northstar Recycling, the Company has six core values that are the root of their company culture, ranging from “we do our personal best today” to “we count on each other for help." They suggest that you create your own set of values that are more than just words -- values that inspire actions.
2. Encourage open dialogue.
Whether things are good, bad or in-between, establishing outlets for open communication and dialogue between all employees can do wonders for improving operations and morale. At Northstar Recycling, the management encourages an open-door policy, where employees at all levels have access to discuss issues both with peers and management.
The Goodman brothers also advocate having daily all-company meetings were everyone has the opportunity to state their focus area for the day and announce any problem areas where they might need help. Having this type of open dialogue not only makes action items tangible but fosters a culture of collaboration.
3. Practice impartiality.
From offering matching health benefits such as equal paternity and maternity leave to ensuring equal opportunities for remote access and flexible scheduling, Seth and Noah Goodman say that setting up an environment of impartiality works wonders for culture.
They further say that, based on their experience, when employees are treated like equal members of a team, they support each other in producing their best work. These kinds of practices also make for a more enjoyable work atmosphere.
4. Be honest.
The Goodman brothers say that there is a reason that honesty is one of Northstar’s six core values. They state it as being “impeccable with our word” because they believe that building an identity as a reliable, trustworthy company for your clients starts by practicing honest communications internally.
Even when negative feedback is necessary, it is important to offer and accept honest, constructive criticism in order to improve as a company. The brothers advocate creating a mechanism for soliciting helpful and authentic feedback on an internal basis at all levels.
5. Have fun!
The Northstar team attributes part of their receiving of so many workplace culture accolades to “not being boring”. As Seth and Noah Goodman, explain, great culture requires happy employees who enjoy coming to work every day. That’s why Northstar Recycling makes it a priority to have a little fun with everything they do.
From a “casual and comfortable” dress policy to a pet-friendly work environment, Northstar tries to make their workplace one that employees look forward to coming to. They also provide cool amenities like an in-house barbershop, a continuous supply of complimentary snacks and beverages, a patio area with a grill and satellite radio for each employee.
They also have quarterly meetings and an annual company party, where everyone participates in teambuilding activities such as scavenger hunts, square dancing lessons and painting classes. Plus, employee are also treated to monthly massages and an annual retreat in a fun, active destination to promote a fun and healthy work-life balance for their employees.
The Goodman brothers advocate that other entrepreneurs look past the word “work” and make their environments and experiences with employees enjoyable to get the best work from them and to reduce turnover.
Related: What Company Culture Is Really About