Company Cultures To Inspire Your Own
Company culture. It’s a hot topic for companies around the world. You know it’s important, you know it’s going to help your employees be better and do better. But do you actually know what it is or how to create a good one? These global companies have all seen success by making their culture a priority and can help us understand how to build strong company cultures of our own.
But, before we start, what exactly are we talking about when we utter the words ‘company culture’?
“[Company] culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.” Frances Frei and Anne Morriss
Software company HubSpot can be found in the ‘best dressed’ lists of company culture year after year. With 97% of employees saying that HubSpot is a great place to work and a Culture Code that’s inspired countless other organisations, the question must be raised – what is it that makes this company so incredible?
The most obvious answer is transparency. HubSpot aren’t afraid to share their failures and acknowledge when they could have done better. In fact, their humility means that they constantly seek to learn and improve, as shown by their determination to educate every single employee on the importance of diversity and inclusion.
“Compromising cultural fit is mortgaging the future” HubSpot Culture Code
It’s this pursuit of learning that’s enabled HubSpot to keep up with changes in working practices and habits, meaning that their culture holds strong year after year. Acknowledging that remote working has become increasingly commonplace, whilst not ignoring the feelings of separation that can sometimes ensue, HubSpot introduced a series of new programmes to help build culture for their remote workers, including virtual water cooler chats and crochet clubs held on Zoom.
Google are famous for their slightly wacky culture. They’re known for funky office design, with their Silicon Valley HQ resembling a ‘kid’s themepark’. But is it all office slides, branded bikes and fun perks?
Yes, those fun perks are important – who wouldn’t get excited by free lunches and nap pods – but alone they don’t mean much. What’s more important is the intention behind these perks. They’re not just offered to be cool and different, rather there’s a motivation behind each one of them.
Free lunches encourage employees to connect and get to know colleagues from other teams. Games offer the chance for different departments to come together, converse and play. Regular company gatherings hold space for organisational updates. In short, it’s about making a global company personal again.
Whilst some of Google’s perks might seem a little over the top or frivolous, what they’re really about is forging connections and uniting their team. That’s something that’s always worth investing in.
Given that Starbucks is a global corporation employing a vast number of employees at relatively low pay grades, it’s an organisation that’s at risk of falling into the trap of a poor company culture. Yet, instead, Starbucks has grown as a direct result of its respect for its workers.
For Starbucks, their culture forms an integral part of their growth strategy, which means that it needs to be genuine. Let’s take a look at their company values:
- Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
- Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
- Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
These are all human-centric values, again coming from a global company making the effort to make their work personal.
“… at Starbucks, I’ve always said we’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee.” Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO 2008-2017
By showing the value of each employee at each stage of the journey, from the moment the coffee beans are harvested in the field to the moment that steaming hot latte is handed over to a happy customer, Starbucks are emphasising the purpose of every single member of their team.
This feeling of respect can be felt in any Starbucks store you enter, anywhere in the world. Each Starbucks store offers the same sense of ‘home’ and welcome, whilst still having its own nod to the country it’s in. They’ve managed to celebrate individuality whilst uniting a global team. No mean feat.
It should perhaps be a given that a communications company like Zoom should have, well, good communications. Whilst this is undoubtedly true, good communications aren’t the only thing that give Zoom a company culture to be proud of.
Zoom have appointed a Happiness Crew to be responsible for employee happiness through a series of events and celebrations, as well as by giving back to the local community. In the same way that Google provide free games as a catalyst for employee connection, community schemes give employees something to bond over and offer far more substance than your typical team bonding event.
What’s especially interesting to note here, is that employees take on the role of Happiness Crew member on top of their normal responsibilities, allowing company culture to become a group effort. Culture isn’t dictated by senior management. Instead, each team member is involved and invested in its success.
Each of these companies has built a culture that is totally unique to their organisation, yet there are a number of common strands that tie them together. Connection is paramount, human focus is key and there is a desire to constantly evolve and improve. That’s something we can all learn from.