The Importance of Corporate Culture Today

How important is culture? In 2014, “culture” was named word of the year. And because culture is so important, corporations like Zappos and Twitter are stepping up to the plate to find new ways to improve corporate culture and meet the needs of today’s professionals. Companies like LinkedIn and Glassdoor even feature employee reviews and awards focused on corporate culture. Until recently, feeling fulfilled at work was a foreign concept and an uncommon value in the workplace (previous generations often valued a steady income, stability, and good benefits more than work culture), but it’s a concept that has taken hold with millennials in the workforce.

Will Geoghegan, assistant professor of management at the Whitman School of Management, adds that, “Corporate culture is still largely a black box that has puzzled academics. It is a phenomenon that we struggle to explain or understand yet analogous to the U.S. Supreme Court obscenity test we all ‘know it when we see it.’ Increasingly, it seems to be a common thread that holds together some of the most successful companies. It has become key to innovation and creativity, the war for talent and the quest for competitive advantage in modern business.”

According to a recent OfficeTeam survey of more than 300 human resources managers, two out of three companies have lost employees who did not fit the corporate culture. To avoid this, companies are quickly learning that they need to take drastic measures and think outside of the box to create the type of culture that will attract the best talent.

So who are some of the leaders in creating the best corporate culture? According to recent articles in ForbesSproutSocial, and The Business Insider, these are some of the companies that excel in this area:

Zappos, aside from a complete organizational shift to holacracy (which removes traditional office hierarchy structures) in 2014, has a “cultural fit interview” that accounts for 50 percent of the company’s hiring decision when weighing candidates. Applicants meet with employees and even attend a departmental meeting or company event. Also, the workers create an annual culture book that explains how they sustain their unique culture. In addition, “Deliver WOW through service,” is the company’s first core value.

Rackspace Hosting has coined the phrase, “fanatical support” to describe its commitment to transparency, resourcefulness, expertise, ownership, and responsiveness. The company awards the “fanatical jacket,” a straightjacket that is symbolic of both the company’s sense of fun and dedication to service, to the employee who best exemplifies the company’s core values.

Twitter conducts team meetings on the building’s roof. It also embraces open communication without fear of retaliation. Employees are encouraged to express their point of view, regardless of how different that view may be. Interestingly, this is the hallmark of Twitter’s platform, and is also evident in the company’s internal culture.

Chevron may not be the first company that usually comes to mind when you think of an organization with a great corporate culture. However, employees at the company say they appreciate Chevron’s commitment to providing a safe working environment. In addition, workers say Chevron is unique in its industry because it is committed to living up to its stated principles and strives to provide a supportive environment for team members.

For today’s workforce, and millennials in particular, a desirable corporate culture includes an emphasis on work-life balance, with a relaxed work schedule and flexible hours. They’re also drawn to team collaboration, socializing after work, and on-site services. And while millennials recognize the importance of a paycheck, they don’t want to work for a company that is only interested in profits and revenue. They want to feel that their work is making a difference and their organization is contributing to making the world a better place. Companies understand this and many are addressing the changing needs of their employees.

Corey McKeon
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