Published on October 23, 2013
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE How innovative companies are creating ways to build company culture while seeing tangible benefits.
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE INTRODUCTION Creating the right culture for your company could be the best investment you ever make – and often, it doesn’t cost a dime. The world’s most innovative companies find hidden value by operating outside of established business culture. Time and time again, competitors are left asking, “How did they do that?” The answer is simple: Culture. The right culture fosters innovation, finds talent in unexpected places, and empowers employees at all levels. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but the following examples from leaders of innovative company culture will help you adopt a mindset that inspires greatness. /02
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE FOSTERING INNOVATION WHILE DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES If you get the culture right, most of the other stuﬀ will just take care of itself. Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO, Zappos.com /03
FOSTERING INNOVATION WHILE DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE Ideas From Everywhere (IFE) is a program for CareerBuilder employees, launched nearly 8 years ago as part of a company decision to adopt a strategy centered on innovation. In essence, employees are encouraged to submit their ideas for new businesses within the company. Their fellow employees are then asked to vote for the best idea. The winner is awarded financing to then start the business. Employees are very active in the program, both in terms of the numbers of employees submitting ideas and the number of votes cast. Through the years we’ve learned as much from the runner ups as from the winning ideas, resulting in new products and reﬁnements to the way we work. Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources /04
FOSTERING INNOVATION WHILE DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE The perks of working at Google are well known, and almost legendary—free meals, on-site medical services, and even usage of electric cars. But one of the reasons Google will forever be linked with innovation is the value the company places on cross-discipline idea generation. Management takes professional development very seriously. We are given the ﬂexibility and time to work on any projects that interest us, even if it’s with another team and not in our job scope. This is a great way to expand skills, meet new teams and potentially pivot your career plan. Also, we have the opportunity to apply for a quarterly rotation outside of our oﬃce, including international oﬃces. I’ve seen many coworkers take a product idea, beta test it and, if successful, receive the company’s backing to develop it fully. Kevin Fields, business development manager /05
FOSTERING INNOVATION WHILE DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE F UN FACT: McDonalds’ most famous product wasn’t named by an advertising committee or some visionary copywriter. The Big Mac was named by a McDonald’s secretary, Esther Glickstein Rose, after she asked an executive what he was up to. A CTIO N ITE M: Work to develop a system internally where employees are exposed to other disciplines within the company on a regular basis, and asked to contribute their thoughts on a particular problem or challenge outside of their normal scope of work. /06
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE PLACING A PREMIUM ON EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Ken Blanchard, author and management expert, CareerBuilder /07
PLACING A PREMIUM ON EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE CareerBuilder surveyed 3,500 full-time workers nationwide and asked what companies can do better to boost employee retention. Besides benefits and salaries, flexible work schedule ranked number one, slightly ahead of increased employee recognition. This is often overlooked. When employees feel they have a real voice in the direction of their organization, they are much more likely to develop loyalties. Number of participants of a 2013 CareerBuilder survey who said that putting employee feedback into action was a reason they choose to stay with their companies. /08 Ryan Hunt, senior career advisor
PLACING A PREMIUM ON EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE As a company focused on using technology to bring people together, Eventbrite is a logical place to expect innovative culture. And it holds true, particularly when it comes to empowering employees to not just help shape company culture but to become emotionally invested in it. Catered meals and unlimited healthy snacks, bike parking, fun perks like being able to book a discounted massage, a game room… I could go on and on. The perks are, of course, wonderful but I think what makes Eventbrite such a great place to work is the complete transparency. Once a month Kevin and Julia [Eventbrite’s founders] sit down and answer employee questions in a session we call 'Hartz to Heart', where we can ask anything we want, and they answer honestly. Sara Altier, community manager /09
PLACING A PREMIUM ON EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE F UN FACT: In February 2000, Southwest Airline CEO Herb Kelleher sent a letter to the home of every employee. “Jet fuel costs three times what it did one year ago. Southwest uses 19 million gallons a week. Our profitability is in jeopardy,” he wrote. He asked each worker to help by identifying a way to save $5.00 a day. The response was immediate. Within six weeks of the letter being sent, employee feedback helped find ways to save the company more than $2,000,000. A CTIO N ITE M: Forget the suggestion box. Solicit feedback from your employees in a transparent way that holds management accountable for listening. Not every suggestion will be taken, of course. But all of it should be acknowledged and considered. /10
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEES TO ADOPT THE CORPORATE CULTURE (even outside the office) In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product and proﬁts. Unless you've got a good team, you can't do much with the other two. Lee Iacocca, businessman and author /1 1
ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEES TO ADOPT THE CORPORATE CULTURE (even outside the office) CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE Instead of taking a day to thank their employees, National Instruments (NI) implements an entire week—Employee Appreciation Week—framed around five pillars: community, career development, and physical, social, and financial well-being. The community aspect of NI’s culture, in particular, has taken hold with employees. To inspire and enable today’s students to become tomorrow’s innovators, NI heavily invests in improving science and engineering education, engaging students with technology, and equipping educators with IN 2012 resources to help them teach fundamental engineering NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS E M P L O Y E E S served as robotics mentors in the U.S. /12 concepts in a fun, hands-on way. Ray Almgren, vice president of marketing
ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEES TO ADOPT THE CORPORATE CULTURE (even outside the office) CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE SAS places a premium on creativity. And as a large company (more than 13,000 employees), they can offer great perks to keep employees de-stressed and the ideas flowing—including on-site massage therapy, a free health care center for employees, spouses, partners, and dependents, and even shoe repair. But every business, no matter how small, can emulate SAS on a philosophical level. SAS’s world-renowned culture is based on trust, ﬂexibility and values. We nurture creativity and innovation. We encourage employees to take risks and exceed expectations while helping them balance work and personal life. Employees know they are trusted to think for themSAS’s employee turnover rate compared to the industry average. selves, challenge themselves and take risks to see what innovation may be sparked. This trust empowers employees—in all levels and divisions—to feel worthy and exceed expectations. These relationships can be found throughout the company, from landscaping and food service to research and development. Shannon Heath, Sr. communications specialist /13
ENCOURAGING EMPLOYEES TO ADOPT THE CORPORATE CULTURE (even outside the office) CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE F UN FACT: Bill Gates famously left Microsoft in 2008 to focus on leading his philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leaving a lasting impact on Microsoft company culture. Today, Microsoft alumni have founded and supported more than 150 non-profit organizations and social ventures working around the world, according to its alumni foundation. A CTIO N ITE M: Set a course for your company culture. Think about what you want your company to represent and embody, both publicly and internally. How do you want your employees to feel every day they walk in the door? What are they working for besides a paycheck or vacation days? Come up with some core values that every output, and every internal initiative should measure up to. /14
CORPORATE CULTURE SECRETS OF FIVE COMPANIES EMPLOYEES LOVE CONCLUSION Employee retention, spending reduction, increased productivity, brilliant ideas – all companies spend untold amounts of time and effort to improve achieve these, yet so many fail to recognize how culture affects their success. In our 40 years of collaboration with meeting planners and professional development experts, we have helped hundreds of companies and thousands of employees learn how to build a culture that benefits everyone. Visit QCenter.com and read our blog to learn more about how we can help grow your company’s culture.
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