The little things make all of the difference
My second favorite touches on exactly what you said, that the the little things make the difference. I particularly love this because in our increasingly "Lean" culture in which entrepreneurs (or rather, investors and advisors), are embracing the idea of an MVP, an increasing amount of evidence suggests the MVP isn't working. From the Greylock article (I believe) a couple months ago suggesting that you must build the Maximum Viable Product to this, http://www.fastcompany.com/1798504/box-ceo-aaron-levie-create-something-exceptional-do-sweat-small-stuff
"If you don't seem paranoid about perfection, you're probably not aiming high enough. Sadly--for consumers--the vast majority of companies will never put this level of focus on their products, services, or interactions. But building it into your culture, and making sure it's a collective and distributed effort, is a winning way to ensure your products are superior."
I love two ideas:
Serendipitous Encounters. Create the opportunities for employees that work independently of one another to engage. Ensure execs aren't locked away in an office. Create many shared work environments that are more appealing than cubes or desks (rooms with a view, comfy but productive seating, shared desks, etc.). Once a week have a company lunch, paid for, in which EVERYONE participates from the interns and consults to the CEO. The execs on the team should never sit with the same people.
- Serendipitous Encounters
- Fun Fridays
Fun Fridays. A modest reflection of Google's informal policy that everyone should spend a certain amount of time working on whatever they want, dedicate a time to do that. Friday morning is flex time... as long as it's work related, do something you want to do, outside of your scope. You can't encourage it, you must require it, otherwise people will spend the time on their job (for fear of losing it for lack of time to deliver). Lunch is shared and fun. And you open the floor to discuss the morning. Who has some crazy thing cooking? Ideas, all of them are rewarded. Mistakes and lessons learned are rewarded even more. Afternoon is back to work but the week ends with happy hour, live music, at artist showing, a cool speaker, etc. SOMETHING to have fun.
Why are those my favorite? They cost nothing, practically speaking, out of pocket.
One more... pay people to leave. Seriously. Steadily increase the amount of money you will pay outright for people to leave. Start a $1,000. I assure you, the time and money you are spending in training and managing employees that aren't passionate about your venture is far greater than $1000. Then, if you're so bold, make it $5k. The person who takes $5k is the person who isn't on board. That's the kind of money people need - to buy a car, pay off a credit card, etc. It's enough that someone who simply has a job, and isn't part of your culture, will leave. More importantly, it's not the act of doing this, but the behavior and the tone it sets in the culture. It essentially says you are here because the opportunity and potential is tremendous; so much so, that if you can be bought to do something else because you don't believe it, I'll buy you - to do something else.