Having a solid company culture has many benefits. These range from helping you land more talented employees (and keep them) to improving productivity and even making your business more attractive to prospective clients.
Building an awesome company culture is an engaging and strategic process (and something we’re thoroughly invested in), so we thought we’d share a bit of inspiration.
Below are 5 companies who are doing company culture right, and how you can take their ideas and apply them to your own business.
What we mean by ‘Company Culture’:
A company culture is about defining an identity and set of ideals that inform the way the company operates.
It is NOT all about perks and benefits (these are simply manifestations of a company culture), it’s about the underlying philosophy that company and all its staff lives by.
Almost all companies have a company culture, albeit unintentionally. It’s usually developed as a result of the people you hire, the way you do business and the general attitude of staff and those in leadership roles.
A company culture is, naturally, a part of everything a company does – from writing emails to product development – so consciously forming a company culture that’s healthy, encourages creativity, productivity and thought leadership is well worth the effort.
Examples to learn from:
It’s not unusual to hear the name Zappos mentioned in a company culture context.
In fact, our director once toured their offices in Nevada and they became major inspiration for his decision to focus time and energy on an awesome company culture for CleverClicks.
Zappos is well-known for their unique approach to online shopping, but it’s what goes on inside their offices that makes this company especially cool. They have so many great examples it’d be a tough job just listing them, but here are a few interesting ideas to learn from.
- Skills-based raises & promotions:
Zappos offer raises and promotions based on passing test skills (i.e rewarding the employees who are upskilling themselves), instead of basing the decision on the usual criteria.
It’s smart because it ensures that people are really motivated to get better at what they do – and that no one is overlooked for a raise or promotion due to office politics, a soft-spoken demeanour or an unobservant supervisor.
- Incentive to quit your job:
Zappos offer new recruits a cash bonus for quitting their job within the first few weeks, and it’s ingenious.
They want the best fit for their business – and they’re willing to pay in order to find out sooner rather than later. This way they don’t waste any extra time on training, and they ensure that all the people who work at Zappos really, really want to be there.
- 50/50 cultural fit vs skills:
With all the emphasis on company culture, it’s hardly surprising that the cultural fit component of a Zappos job interview carries the same weight as the skills and experience component.
Think out the box when it comes to offering raises and promotions. Find a way to use them to your advantage (e.g motivating employees to upskill themselves) that employees will also enjoy.
Think about the biggest wastes of time/energy/resources and find a smart way to mitigate them. In this case, Zappos minimise some of the risk that comes with hiring and training new recruits who aren’t the best fit for the business.
Hire for culture, not just for skills. Studies have shown that as much as 89% of employees who quit or are fired within the first few months do so as a result of being a poor cultural fit for the company, not a lack of skills. In addition, hiring people who are likely to get along also improves the happiness level of all (old and new) employees.
Google are often credited with starting the corporate culture craze and they are always listed among the best companies to work for.
Their innovative and healthy culture has become a massive part of their brand’s identity and they have some of the best (and most talked about) culture-related perks in the business.
Like Zappos, they have so many examples, we’d have to dedicate an entire blog post just to fit them all in, but here are a few interesting ones.
- Free healthy food:
Google employees have healthy food and juice bars all over their ‘campuses’ where employees can eat for free.
Free healthy food is a perk that employees love, but it also serves Google well. Not only does it save employees money and time not having to make/pack/source their own food, but having them eat in the office also helps them build better relationships with other employees.
The ‘healthy’ component helps increase employee concentration, minimises sick days and adds to their overall feeling of wellbeing.
- Dog-friendly offices:
Google employees are also allowed to bring their dogs to work – a perk that adds a lot of joy for very little cost.
Google managers have been quoted saying that the dogs encourage employees to take more productive breaks (heading outside for a walk rather than, say, clicking through YouTube), increase the level of enjoyment employees get out of their days and – once again – encourage employees to interact with one another and meet new people (through conversations about their furry friends).
- The 80/20 rule:
Google have an 80/20 productivity rule: 80% of their time is spent on tasks that fit their job description, but 20% of their time is left free to pursue passion projects, creative ideas, brainstorming sessions and anything else that might result in a good idea.
This encourages creativity and – with so many great minds working at Google – often results in ideas that the company can actually use.
While not every company can afford to give their employees free food, the underlying motive is to find a way to help employees save time doing chores both in and out of the office.
This results in improved productivity, even if the employee doesn’t spend the extra time working, they’ll will be happier, healthier and more balanced.
What’s more, ‘extra time’ is a perk that appeals to even the highest paid employees.
In contrast, allowing dogs in the office costs Google virtually nothing, but adds a massive amount of joy and love to the working day. It goes to show that great benefits needn’t be expensive.
It’s also clever, because Google knows that there’s more to having a good day at the office than just the work side of things. The more employees enjoy their working days, the more they’ll enjoy their job overall.
Finally, the 80/20 rule is another great example of how companies and employees can both get massive value out of the same perk.
In this case, employees have time to get creative and work on projects outside of their usual domain, while Google benefits from the ideas that come out of it.
Atlassain is a software development company with a really awesome take on company culture. They’re proof that you don’t need to offer insane perks to have a great company culture.
- In-office exercise.
Doing push-ups and planks are a standard part of any employees’ day at Atlassain.
Led by a team member, these ‘mini-workout breaks’ give employees short bursts of exercise in a fun and productive way. Not only are they good for employees’ health, but they also bolster a sense of community and camaraderie.
- Ship-In days:
This is a unique take on Google’s 80/20 rule.
Atlassain give employees 24 hours to work on creative projects, whether it’s reducing the office’s carbon footprint to creating a new software product. You can pitch your idea to the office and those interested in joining you on your quest can do so.
- Informal Team Building:
Atlassain employees are encouraged to get together at any available opportunity, whether it’s at staff parties, over lunch or working together on ship-in projects.
The company makes an effort to blur the invisible lines that separate departments and teams, ensuring that the entire company operating system is underpinned by a real sense of teamwork.
The in-office exercise is a great example of how a really simple idea can be used to build the team and also be productive and fun. It costs nothing and doesn’t require a lot of planning or effort to organise.
Ship-in days are a great way to encourage creativity and gives employees the freedom to come up (and then follow up) with great ideas – no matter what they might be.
Obviously, teamwork is a massive part of Atlassain’s company culture, and it’s evident in pretty much everything they do. It’s a good example of how a core culture trait can have many different expressions.
Squarespace is a very successful CMS company who have a really cool company culture designed to bring out the best in their employees.
- Guest Lectures:
Employees at Squarepace are treated to regular guest lectures by titans of industry and other interesting, exciting and inspiring people.
These sessions are a major perk that boosts employee morale and helps broaden employees’ minds and horizons. When innovation and inspiration are a major part of your company culture, better overall employee performance is a natural byproduct.
- Flat management:
Squarespace makes a major effort to maintain a ‘flat’ culture (very few levels between management and employees).
This can be difficult to do as the company grows, but Squarespace says they maintain it because it encourages creativity, helps open the flow of ideas and results in employees managing themselves better.
- Relaxation Areas:
The Squarespace offices have relaxation spaces where employees can go to meditate, relax and even nap.
This is another cost-effective perk that boosts employee wellness and shows employees that the company actually cares about the kind of day you’re having – not just your work.
The guest lecture idea is an expression of the company’s culture of constant improvement, creativity and personal development. It’s smart because any perk that inspires and upskills employees is going to benefit the company as much as it does the individual.
By maintaining their ‘flat’ structure, employees are encouraged to ‘step up’ and individuals in the company say they find it easier to share responsibilities and creative ideas.
Lastly, the relaxation space is another great way to improve employee health and productivity, increase the enjoyment they get out of the working day and make people happier at the office. It’s a small perk that’s easy to offer, but it says a lot about the company’s values.
This healthcare company has an impressively ‘untraditional’ corporate culture, proving it’s not only agile tech companies and small startups that can do it.
- Objective-based bonuses for everyone:
Bonuses at Scripps are awarded for meeting performance objectives, and are not just reserved for top management.
Each year they give out as much as $4 million in staff bonuses (to everyone from junior recruits to tech support staff), with the only stipulation being that you meet specific objectives that are agreed upon at the start of each year.
- Free food and in-office massages:
Like Google, employees at Scripps are provided with free food and on-site massages to help save time and boost enjoyment levels in the office.
A happy work environment leads to better work.
- Sponsored pet insurance:
Scripps helps to pay for employees’ pet insurance. It may sound like an odd perk, but they do it to minimise the stress and cost that comes with having a sick or injured furball at home – and to show employees just how much they care.
When it comes to perks, things like an office bar and foosball table often count for less than perks that show a deeper care and understanding. Employees are more likely to connect with a company that’s offering them the latter.
Basing bonuses on performance targets helps keep the staff motivated and goal-oriented. It also means that there is a direct reward for doing your job well, rather than just ‘showing up’ and counting down the hours in your working day.
Giving them out to everyone in the team ensures that the achievement-focused culture permeates every area of the business, and not just a few sectors.
Employees that enjoy individual days at the office are more likely to enjoy their job overall. In-office perks like food and massages allow employees to have a good day even if work isn’t going so well.
Helping employees with their pet insurance is a great way for a big company to show employees that they care about employee’s home lives as well as their work output.
There are a million small ways to boost your awesome company culture; all it requires is some out-the-box thinking. The key is to start by identifying the elements of your culture you’d like to promote within the company, and then brainstorm practical and interesting ways to express it.
As we’ve seen by the examples above, sometimes they needn’t be costly, time-consuming or even work-related. A solid company culture is something that affects the way your business operates, and the way that it grows. If you can successfully create a good one, you’re setting up for ‘big-picture’ success.
Tags: company culture, culture
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