Corporate Culture: A Competitive Advantage
I hear a lot about corporate culture in my daily conversations with both employers and job seekers. Interestingly, when I hear each side talk about what corporate culture means to them – there’s often a disconnect. Digging further, if I ask employers and job seekers to describe what good culture looks like to them, the similarities and the differences can be pretty striking.
To help both sides get a grip on the issue, I’ll be sending out a series of articles this month on the advantages of having a solid corporate culture.
What Is Culture?
Before we can have an intelligent conversation on culture we have to understand what that word truly means. There are a few different definitions that hold water but let’s focus on 3 that I believe are the most applicable to business.
- The quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, science, scholarly pursuits etc.
- Development or improvement of the mind by education or training
- Anthropology: The sum total of ways built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another.
With these definitions in hand, does your company define its own culture along these lines? I have found that when people talk about their corporate culture, they’re referring to the benefits that they provide or receive. Here is our first opportunity to elevate the discussion!
I Want To Hear From You
For the employees and job seekers out there, what defines a good corporate culture to you? For employers, what have been your hits and misses?
As a part of this series, I’m putting together a list of unique benefits that people have introduced to me. If you have an interesting story to tell on this front, please share it with me in email or on Social Media and I’ll include it in a follow up post!
The Basic Benefits
Benefits alone can’t make up a company’s culture, but they certainly help. First and foremost, you need to pay each employee what their position is truly worth. Pay them enough to remove pay from being a point of concern for them on a daily basis.
Now you can focus on other benefits that have a direct effect on their day to day life. Health and life insurance, retirement contributions, performance bonuses – these are just a few examples of some must have benefits for most positions.
Here are some fringe benefits that count in your favor when you’re trying to build a good corporate culture:
- Valet Parking
- Vehicle Allowance
- Concierge Service
- Basic Games (Console Gaming, Ping Pong, Basketball, Corn Hole, Foozeball, Company Softball Leagues)
- Next Level Games (Life Sized Jenga, Quidditch, Obstacle Course Races, Zorb Soccer, Top Golf)
- Pet Friendly Offices
- Holiday Parties & Cookouts
- Catered Lunches
Once you’ve got benefits from the list above in place, you’re on your way to building a good culture but don’t miss the forest for the trees. These benefits, while fun and interesting, are still just a fancy way of spending money on your staff and that will only take your culture so far.
Looking Beyond The Fringe
You can’t build a great culture by simply writing checks. To get to the next level you have to do the little things that focus on the human element of your operation. Create an environment where your employees feel valued. Do what you can to make sure that your team can be creative and support their efforts to innovate.
Not sure where to start?
- Do something on a day to day basis to support a team member
- Check in often with every employee – if you play favorites, people may notice
- A quick pat on the back for a job well done can go a long way
- Send a company wide email that recognizes an employee who is going above and beyond the call of duty. Not only does this pay that person the respect they deserve, it sets a positive tone for the entire company
- Appreciate the need for work life balance with things like flexible scheduling and allowing employees to bring their family to your corporate events
- Acknowledge high quality production, not just the quantity of hours people put in
- Remember the Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated
Culture Comes From The Top
The most important thing to remember about culture is that it works best when it comes from the top so get your high level management on board. I recently came across a great article on how this manifested at FaceBook but let’s face it, whether you’re a tech startup or a family construction business that has been around for decades, your core leaders define the personality of your company.
Culture is going to be my focus all month long. In the coming weeks we’ll explore the war for talent that’s taking place in the Electrical Construction industry. I’ll also have a post dedicated just to understanding the modern employee.
As always, keep your feedback and ideas rolling!