I’ve consulted at companies that have their own standards of a good company culture, but no one company had a strategic plan (or, really, a Google-sized budget) set up to focus on “organized behavior” as it aligns to the company’s mission.
One company held their morning editorial meetings on couches and ordered lunch for all of its employees every Friday. Another celebrated every momentous occasion — birthdays, finishing the yearly compensation analysis, someone retiring, summer interns leaving, pregnancies and births — with cake and cocktails. Another office chose to celebrate its employees achievements on their intranet (this company’s CEO also made it a point to write a monthly blog about anything on his mind, like how he felt about a new movie that came out, learning new skills or why employees should work from home on certain days).
Each organization is different, and takes time and money into consideration when deciding how fancy they want to get with their company’s culture.
Going back to Google…
While articles have already been written about how gloriously successful their office culture is, I imagine being a “Googler” is working in a flatly organized culture with tons of free food, massive office space, lots of windows and open workstations, bean bags and plenty of good conversation and brainstorming opportunities. At least, that’s my idea of a great company culture. In reality, Google boasts way more engaging employee benefits alongside a largess of seemingly inane gifts to their Googlers. Employees get 3 catered meals each day. On-site massages. Celebrity appearances. There are indoor and outdoor work and teamwork spaces with cozy couches and stations to plug in at. There are in-house physicians and health experts. Free legal aid. Of course, a casual dress code.
The bottom line is Google’s company culture is built on the very essence of what the company is trying to do: create, innovate and help people collaborate using technology. In a 2013 New York Times article, Harvard professor Teresa Amabile is quoted as saying “there’s some evidence that great physical space enhances creativity.”
I can’t write this blog article on the stance that I know exactly how to make every company’s culture better because I don’t. A company’s culture should be custom designed for what leaders want out of their employees (more sales, more great inventions, great ideas, heightened productivity). Also, employee behavior should be aligned to the company’s purpose. A recent Deloitte study said that 82% of executives and employees working for companies with a “strong sense of purpose” say they are confident about their organization’s future.
I will say that every employer should embrace ideas like employee development courses, leadership development courses and team development on top of fun benefits like “learn and learns,” the flat organizational structure, awards and recognition, and flexible hours. Each seems to have merit and prove successful in improving employee attitudes, behaviors, ownership and confidence.
Oh, and food. Food always helps, too.
Ping pong at Nike headquarters.
Southwest Airlines employees dress up to celebrate launches.
Zappos, one of the most highly-rated corporate cultures in the world.