Positive Examples of Company Culture in Practise

Despite being on the top floors of our building, the stairs at Westfield Health are currently a very busy place.

“What’s your team name?”, “How many steps have you done today?” are suddenly hot topics of conversation thanks to our walking month competition.

Spurred on by £100 towards a team meal and Amazon vouchers for the best weekly walking selfie, teams of six are tracking their steps with progress marked on a map of the UK.

It’s little things like this that help employees not only get to know people across the business, but highlight a common sense of purpose. It’s a way to start building a positive culture.

Culture is about more than just creating a pleasant working environment. It can help reduce absenteeism, boost engagement and ultimately impact profitability.

But there’s not one size fits all when it comes to culture. As discussed in the Implementing a top-down strategy module, authenticity is key.

To truly engage employees and deliver business impact, a good culture needs to match a company’s purpose.

We’ve pulled together examples of companies who are bringing their values to life through their company culture, fostering product interest and empowering employees to deliver their best work.

Living their Values

Whole Foods

American giant Whole Foods are clear on their purpose — “to nourish people and the planet”. Describing themselves as a purpose-driven company, they actively encourage employees to focus on their health: by keeping key metrics like cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure in a healthy range, they unlock an extra 10% off Whole Foods products.

Benchmark recruit

This Sheffield-based recruitment firm realised the strength of its culture when a new apprentice joined the team and things didn’t go quite to plan. Within a few weeks, other team members raised concerns that the new employee wasn’t demonstrating Benchmark’s core values and behaviours.

Benchmark Director, Louisa Harrison-Walker commented: “When you get to the stage when people can come to you when they are uncomfortable about someone else’s behaviour, it’s shows the strength and understanding your employees have of a culture they were instrumental in building”.

Fostering product interest

REI

Outdoor clothing brand REI want a culture where their people love getting outside and seeking adventure. As well as paying employees to take off Thanksgiving and Black Friday to allow them to reconnect with family and friends, they run a challenge grant programme where employees get $300 in products for a personally challenging outdoor activity.

Does it work? In a traditionally transient sector like retail, their retention rate is double the industry standard, their employee engagement consistently exceeds 85% and they’ve been on the Fortune 100 best companies to work for each year for the past 19 years.

Airbnb

How do you retain top talent whilst actively hiring people that love to travel? The firm that reinvented travel accommodation offer all their employees a $2,000 yearly travel stipend to see the world and stay in any Airbnb listing, allowing them to attract and retain people who are a great cultural fit.

Empowering employees

Netflix

Sick days, holiday days, working hours — there’s a certain amount of bureaucracy you expect when it comes to work, but not if you’re a Netflix employee.

Its company values include creativity, honesty, communication and reliability, so Netflix decided to practise what it preaches by not tracking holiday, sick days or working hours. “Our culture of freedom and responsibility is centred on treating our employees as responsible adults”, says their spokesperson.

Zappos

Your manager directly impacts your engagement at work. It can even make the difference between employees staying in the business: staff who rate their manager’s performance poorly are four times more likely to be job hunting1.

Zappos have ditched the traditional manager-employee relationship, replacing it with a self-management system called ‘holacracy’. Developed by programmer Brian Robertson, it replaces upper management titles and does away with job descriptions.

Without a line manager, employees are solely responsible for delivering their work and people can hold multiple roles, enabling them to fully utilise their skillset.

1Tiny Pulse, 2018 Employee Retention Report, https://www.tinypulse.com/lt-2018-employee-retention-report