Peter Drucker (1909-2005), the late Austrian-born management consultant, once famously said that culture eats strategy for breakfast — i.e., while a sound business plan is excellent, nothing is more important than a company’s culture. That philosophy, later adopted by Ford Motor Company president Mark Fields, is still fully embraced by C-Suite denizens today.
A Modern and Successful Company Culture
According to Deloitte, 94 percent of executives and 88 percent of employees regard a unique company culture as being critical to the success of a business. Alan Kohll, founder and president of TotalWellness, writes that culture impacts everything from recruitment to retention, not to mention employee satisfaction and collaboration.
A substandard culture impacts employees’ health which in turn affects the bottom line.
The Harvard Business Review took note of a study concluding that healthcare costs are 50 percent greater at companies regarded as high-pressure than those featuring positive cultures. HBR also highlighted an American Psychological Association estimate that $500 billion pours into the U.S. economy each year because of work-related stress.
Against that backdrop, it is clear that salary is only one part of the equation in keeping employees happy and productive — that other things matter just as much, if not more. Engagement, defined as how employees regard their place of work and how that impacts their production, is viewed as particularly critical.
Companies with highly engaged employees are not only more profitable but have lower turnover, superior customer service and are viewed as being more attractive by candidates. Such giants as Google and Facebook have long been lauded for their ability to engage their employees, as mentioned in a piece in Entrepreneur.com.
Google courtesy of such things as its workout facilities, dog-friendly culture and employee trips and parties, Facebook through not only its perks but an open office that finds upper management (including Mark Zuckerberg) rubbing elbows with the entire staff. Both places like to keep their employees well-fed — Facebook even has an on-site laundry service.
Among the other companies the Entrepreneur.com mentioned for their positive culture are:
- Twitter: Free meals are available at the social media giant’s San Francisco headquarters, and unlimited vacation is possible for some employees.
- Zappos: The shoe manufacturer weeds out employees through an interview process that places an accent on cultural fit, and pays candidates $2,000 to quit if they decide during the first week of training that the job isn’t right for them.
- Warby Parker: The prescription eyeglass manufacturer features a team dedicated to scheduling lunches, outings and other events for all employees.
- SquareSpace: The website developer pays all health-insurance premiums, offers flexible vacations and relaxation spaces.
Veronique James, CEO of the James Agency, an advertising, public relations, and digital marketing firm based in Scottsdale, Ariz., writes that there are things every executive can do on a granular level to ensure an upbeat environment. For example, her agency begins each week with a 15-minute all-hands shoutout session and on other occasions outlines weekly, monthly and yearly intentions so that everyone is always heading in the same direction. She also emphasizes collaboration, and how it is particularly important for all team members to hold up their end while working on a group project.
“The best companies in the world draw the best from all their team members,” says Nazim Ahmed, CEO of CanvasPop,“so I really wanted to create that type of culture where ideas could come from anywhere in the company.” Nazim said his employees are an active part of the product’s creative process.
Sweetgreen, a fast-casual restaurant chain, ensures its culture is a strong one through such initiatives as its family fund, under which voluntary paycheck donations are used to help out employees in times of need. The fund came into play when someone needed temporary housing following a fire, and when another employee hoped to visit a loved one plagued by illness.
In summation, a strong culture can be built in any number of ways, but no matter the means, it is essential that a company endeavor to do so.