Company Culture: Making It Better Makes You Better

A clipboard with the words company culture written on it.

As a former Head of Talent Acquisition for a major retail corporation, questions about culture, were the ones asked most. In fact, workers today consider company culture with as much weight as they give to salary and benefits. You may have heard about the amazing cultures at companies like Google, Zappos, and REI, and you may be thinking “Sure, great places to work BUT they are bigger, more profitable and more famous than us.” Well, a great company culture does not require size, money or fame. Even businesses with a handful of employees can be great places to work. Let’s see how you can be one too.


Great culture is no longer just a nice extra.

Workers today consider company culture with as much weight as they give to salary and benefits. They want to measure the company to see if it’s a good fit for them. And companies want to make sure that the employee is a good fit for them as well. As an example, Zappos bases fifty percent of their hiring decision on a cultural fit interview. Although culture is strongly influenced by the organization’s founder and executive team every employee plays a part in carrying it inside and outside the company.

Your company has a personality.

A company personality should be as easily recognized as an individual’s personality. Which way would you like to be perceived: eager, friendly, serious, humorous, caring, aloof? Whatever it is, your personality should appeal to your customers and your employees. It will self-select your success with both targets.

The traits that make up the personality of an individual–values, beliefs, interests, experiences, behaviors and habits–are present in companies as well. Oftentimes they are unspoken and unwritten rules for working together. When internalized, this collection of traits can make a company more efficient and help it present a consistent public image.

Make your culture deliberate.

Companies have a culture whether they set out to create one or not. Make sure that yours is working in your favor. One way to ensure this is to proclaim and promote your core values.

Google’s values include quickness and quirkiness. For example, potential team members are asked quirky interview questions such as “Why are manhole covers round?” or “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?”

Zappos has 10 core values which they promote as “a way of life”. Here are a few of them: service, growth, communication, passion and “a little weirdness”. They widely share these core values with customers and employees alike on their website and in their workspaces.

Outdoor gear provider REI has recognized that its customers and its employees don’t just love camping and hiking but they care for the environment as well. REI says its employees give “life to their purpose” of getting more people outside, operating more sustainably, and protecting and creating access to outdoor places.

Company culture is a living thing.

“Set it and forget it” are not words by which to create a company culture. To stay healthy and vibrant a culture needs periodic check-ups. These can take many forms including consistent hiring practices to ensure a good fit, openly sharing your culture and values, recognizing and celebrating achievements both large and small, and keeping communications channels open and frequent.

Although physically difficult for many of us to practice during the current pandemic conditions, the familiar technique of “management by walking around” is a good technique for encouraging two-way communication. A great way to simulate this if your current work environment is all (or mostly) work-from-home, could be with a regular Zoom meeting about cultural issues or perhaps a Slack Channel would better fit your workstyle.

Is bigger better?

We have mentioned a few companies with thousands of workers and millions of customers but what about smaller companies? How can they win the company culture competition?

Here are a few ways to see the big advantages of being small.

According to Glassdoor smaller companies offer employees a more hands-on work experience, more flexibility, better access to management and a more personalized career path.

Whatever size company you are or hope to be a part of, embrace its culture and keep it active through open and frequent two-way communication.

Would you like to talk about company culture? Contact Cisso Bean & Dutch for expert HR guidance today.

If you need advice on how this could benefit your company, we may be able to help. Contact Cisso Bean & Dutch today to partner with skilled HR experts that can help you benefit from a vibrant company culture.