How to Create a Good Company Culture: Jodie Fox’s Advice

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Reboot" by Jodie Fox. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

Want to know how to create a good company culture? Why is it important? How do business experts recommend strengthening company culture?

The book Reboot explores the rise and fall of Jodie Fox’s global business Shoes of Prey. In the book, Fox offers an honest look into her successes and failures as an entrepreneur, and she specifically offers advice on how to create a good company culture and why it’s so important.

Keep reading to learn how to create a good company culture, according to Fox’s advice.

Creating a Good Company Culture

In Reboot, Jodie Fox claims that there’s always value in the process of owning a business, even if your business doesn’t work out. She also provides advice on dealing with many of the situations you’ll encounter as a business owner, especially if you end up building a global business. In this article, we’ll discuss how to create a good company culture, based on Fox’s advice for using clear policies, expectations, and support for employees, especially during times of transition.

Set Up Structure and Expectations

To create a good company culture, Fox recommends establishing administrative policies and structures early on to create clear expectations for employees. She and her co-founders didn’t do this in the early years of Shoes of Prey, and it caused confusion as the company grew. 

(Shortform note: Experts agree with Fox’s assertion that companies should establish clear rules and policies even when the business is small. HR policies are like laws: They create a common set of expectations, understandings, and standards of acceptable behavior at a company. Additionally, they ensure that a company is legally compliant, protecting the company from litigation and promoting fair, consistent treatment of employees. Clear expectations (laid out in job descriptions, performance standards, objectives, and so on) give employees goals to work toward, helping the company to grow. Employees who know what’s expected of them are more engaged, productive, and satisfied at work.)

When the company moved from Australia to the United States in 2015, it hired a human resources manager who created the following policies to support the new volume of staff:

An annual employee survey that helped Fox and her management team identify themes of feedback they needed to address. Additionally, they implemented three smaller employee surveys throughout the year to track their progress on the feedback from the annual survey.

(Shortform note: Annual and quarterly surveys are a good way to show employees that you value their feedback and that they have input in the direction of the company. Experts argue that quarterly surveys requiring no more than 10 minutes to complete are optimal for ensuring participation, preventing survey fatigue, and providing management with relevant, actionable information. Every survey should have a clear focus and goal so employees aren’t confused about its purpose. Additionally, write survey questions that yield actionable results: Many companies use multiple choice questions for this purpose because the data from them is easy to compile and analyze.)

Lunchtime training sessions on professional development topics. (Shortform note: Regular training keeps employees aware of current expectations and increases productivity and performance.)

Frequent individual meetings between employees and the HR manager to discuss what’s helping and hindering the employees’ motivation. (Shortform note: Meeting one-on-one with HR instead of management enables employees to give honest feedback without feeling the pressure of criticizing their supervisors directly. If you’re the HR representative conducting these meetings, come prepared with a list of questions to guide the employee feedback. Ask questions that reflect the aspects of the employee experience your company wants to measure, like inclusivity or recognition for good work.)

Clear promotion tracks and employee hierarchies. (Shortform note: Having a clear promotion structure improves employee retention. Research shows that 35% of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so because there’s a lack of career development and promotion opportunities. Promotion policies should define how, when, and why an employee is eligible for a promotion, with specific and measurable goals.)

Provide Support During Difficult Times

Another important facet of creating Shoes of Prey’s company culture was the extensive support it gave its employees, especially in times of transition and struggle. In her explanation of creating a good company culture, Fox offers suggestions for the following situations:

Example #1: Moving to a New Country

When Fox and her co-founders decided to move the company to the United States, they offered all 24 of their Australian employees the chance to move with them, and 22 decided to do it. Fox found that the following support measures helped her employees make the transition:

Make a checklist with information about the administrative side of moving, like visa paperwork, taxes, and health care costs. Moving to a new country can be overwhelming, so you’ll significantly help your employees by doing this research for them.

Rent a house in the new country where your employees can stay before they find their own housing. This takes the immediate stress of finding a place to live off them, thus allowing people to move to the new country more quickly. 

More Ways to Support Employees During a Move

Fox provides useful tips for how to support employees during a company relocation, but her strategies may not be enough in every situation. An administrative checklist won’t always provide the full picture of what it’s like to live in the new location, and companies with a larger staff won’t necessarily be able to rent accommodation for all their employees. If your company’s circumstances don’t match Fox’s experience, here are some tips to supplement her advice on supporting your employees during a move:

– Tell the employees about the move as soon as possible, and keep them informed of any new developments. This will give them time to prepare and limit gossip that may spread false information.

– Ask employees for their input on the new location. They may not have a say in where the company moves, but they could have valuable ideas and suggestions about establishing the new space.

– Offer opportunities for employees to visit the new location prior to moving, if possible, and compile information about the area (transit options, day care services, restaurants, and so on). This will help them get used to the idea of living there.

– Offer assistance, like helping employees to find a new residence, granting time off or flexible hours while they’re moving, and giving relocation bonuses. 

Example #2: When the Company Is Struggling

Fox also provided extra support to her employees in the company’s final months—this is another important aspect of creating and maintaining a good company culture. By this time, she was the only co-founder still working at the company. After several failed attempts to scale the business, it was struggling financially, and eventually, Fox had to let some team members go. For those who remained, she offered the following support measures:

Holding regular meetings with her employees to discuss the company’s financial outlook and the steps she was taking to save the business. Transparency helped build trust in a precarious time. 

(Shortform note: If you have to communicate with employees when the future of your company is uncertain, as Fox did, there are a few things to include in your approach. First, consider your employees’ perspective—what would you want to hear in their position? Address as many of their fears as you can. Additionally, admit when you don’t know something (for example, whether or not there will be layoffs), and avoid glossing over unpleasant news. Downplaying hard truths won’t stop them from coming to light, and it will reflect poorly on you later on if your employees feel like you deceived them.)

Reducing employee hours instead of deferring their salaries. The company couldn’t afford to pay their employees for full-time work anymore, but Fox didn’t want to lay anyone else off or ask them to work without pay, so she reduced the number of hours they worked instead. To lead by example, she also reduced the number of paid hours she worked.

(Shortform note: As Fox demonstrated, reducing employee hours can be a better alternative to layoffs, furloughs, and salary deferment when you’re trying to cut costs as a business. However, pay attention to how reduced hours will affect your salaried (exempt) employees—in certain circumstances, reducing the hours of salaried employees can hurt your business. Since salaried employees receive the same pay no matter how many hours they work, they’ll be making the same amount of money while doing less work. If they agree to reduce their hours and their pay, they may lose their exempt status and become eligible for overtime pay, which could be another added cost.)

Offering employees the chance to look for other jobs on company time, as long as they did it discreetly. Fox also sent her employees’ names to other companies in the industry and offered them references.

(Shortform note: To further support your employees as they prepare to find another job, pay them severance or unused sick time and vacation time (if you can afford it). Additionally, if you’re based in the U.S., take advantage of your state workforce agency—many states have teams that help employees and employers manage company closures. They provide job counseling, job placement, interview training, and internet access for job searching. This may be particularly helpful if employees can’t search for jobs on company time, or if you don’t have contacts who are hiring right now.)

How to Create a Good Company Culture: Jodie Fox’s Advice

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jodie Fox's "Reboot" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Reboot summary:

  • A look at the rise and fall of Jodie Fox’s global business, Shoes of Prey
  • An honest look into the successes and failures entrepreneurs face
  • How to deal with mental health struggles as a business owner

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.