Spotlight on Company Culture

Spotlight on Company Culture

Company Culture’s Big Moment

In the wake of recent events, many are wondering if Company Culture is having its big moment.  From our perspective at Great Place to Work®, we certainly think so.  Just ask the 850 professionals who will be attending our sold out Great Place to Work® Conference next week to hear from leaders at some of the country’s most lauded workplaces!

The problem with everyone talking about company culture is that the power of this very simple concept can so easily dilute as people rush to praise one culture and criticize another, or focus on just one component of a large system of values and behaviors and imply that if you could just do a, b, or c or be like x, y, or z, you’d experience all sorts of goodness from your totally rocking company culture. 

As you are reading about company culture, how can you discern what’s good, solid advice, and what’s just a whole lot of hype? Here are some tips to consider from our studies of workplaces that have been garnering accolades for their truly excellent company cultures, even before it was so hip to talk about culture.

  1. What does the culture value?  Doing good? Customer service? Innovation? Sustainability? Cultures are formed around what an organization values.  The companies we work with value things like “delivering extraordinary patient care,” “developing employees both as people and professionals,” “making a positive contribution to the community,” “delivering exceptional customer service,” and more. Discern what lay beneath the lip service to truly understand the company culture.
  2. The top matches the bottom.  It’s great to hear so many CEOs talking about the awesome culture at the companies they lead.  But are those sentiments echoed by their employees? One of the beautiful things about the 100 Best Companies to Work For list is that it is based on employee perceptions. At great workplaces, employees experience the same culture as senior executives. Many organizations may talk one way, but act another, and employees as a whole, will call their leaders out on this.
  3. It’s not culture for culture’s sake. Company culture is a part of and support for business strategy. A culture is only so powerful in what it enables a company to do: to execute on strategy in a cohesive way, that inspires excellences and invites participation from throughout the organization, and sets a standard for operations and behaviors that eliminates uncertainty, politicking, and all sorts of negativity that can stymie an organization. If there is too much focus on flashy perks, and outrageous parties, and not enough emphasis on what is being achieved and how a company is going about that, you can bet it’s the appearance of culture of the sake of culture, and not an integrated and authentic way of being that makes an organization great.