5 Radical New Approaches to Corporate Culture
One of the best ways to keep your employees happy is to create and maintain the sort of cultural and social environment where they want to work. This is not as simple as putting a foosball table in the break room. Corporate culture, at its best, is integrated with all aspects of the business.
Here are five businesses that have unique attitudes toward company culture. Keep in mind that you don’t need to adopt any one of these approaches in order to succeed. Culture is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Use these examples for ideas and inspiration to develop a corporate culture that fits your organization.
1. Red Frog Events
Red Frog Events is responsible for organizing several races around Chicago and other cities, including the Warrior Dash, Beach Dash, and the Great Urban Race. As you might expect for a company billing itself as a “race management and event planning” specialist, the personality and energy of its employees are extremely important — and that value is exemplified in its culture.
In terms of policies, Red Frog only hires internally. Any interested job candidate must complete an internship of three to five months before being considered for a full-time position. But the most striking element of the company is its headquarters, known as Camp Red Frog. The office features a treehouse, a zipline, and a high-five wall, all designed to push the bounds of creativity and brainstorming.
The business has received extensive recognition for its efforts in creating a unique company culture. It received the Chicago Innovation Award and an American Business Award in 2011, and was named the 2011 Dream Big Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The movie and TV streaming service has a company culture that’s been intentionally designed around the most important behaviors and skills of its workers. Netflix is most frequently cited for its focus on “freedom and responsibility.” This approach posits that a genuinely responsible person who is self-motivated and self-disciplined will function best under a high degree of freedom. This is meant to keep individual workers satisfied while keeping the entire organization nimble.
Netflix CEO Reed Hasting’s published a white paper presentation on the freedom and responsibility model on the web for everyone to examine and emulate, embedded below.
Zappos has attracted loyal customers through its dedication to great service, and the company culture is designed to make that service important. In fact, the very first core value for the company is “Deliver WOW through service.”
The culture match is of primary importance for new hires. Zappos’ hiring process involves candidates meeting many existing employees, and attending at least one department or company event. There is also a cultural fit interview that carries 50 percent of the weight in a hiring decision.
Once candidates are hired, they will receive raises based only on skills tests and whether they meet uniform performance standards. Managers are trained to reinforce aspects of the company culture within their departments. The company’s workers write a culture book every year about how their develop and sustain that culture. Every element of Zappos employment is designed around corporate culture, and that is clear from the very vocal satisfaction of both workers and customers.
Zingerman’s began in 1982 as a single deli in Ann Arbor, MI. Since then, it has grown into a full business community that includes the original deli, a coffeehouse, a sit-down restaurant, and a mail-order company. Much like Zappos, Zingerman’s has a reputation among customers for outstanding service. It’s also known for its employees’ loyalty to the company.
The corporate culture is reinforced with ongoing employee training. High value is placed on individuals living core company values every day.
That training extends beyond just the internal Zingerman’s staff. A special program, known as ZingTrain, offers seminars and education to other companies so that they can adopt some of Zingerman’s best corporate culture practices. There are many articles available through ZingTrain about the importance of creating and maintaining a strong culture, including several pieces by the company’s co-founders.
5. Rackspace Hosting
This cloud computing company snagged the No. 74 spot on Fortune’s 2012 list of the best companies to work for. Rackspace Hosting is driven by an idea it has termed “Fanatical Support”, which includes responsiveness, ownership, resourcefulness, expertise, and transparency. Not only is this the mindset that drives customer interactions, but it is integrated into the entire company experience.
The highest level of recognition that a Racker can receive is the Fanatical Jacket. It is a straight jacket given to an employee who fully exemplifies that Fanatical Support. It’s a perfect example of how the company has mixed a little bit of goofiness into a traditional incentive.
That corporate culture is also made visible to any potential clients or hires. Rackspace has a blog written by Rackers who write about life at the company and how they have experienced the business’ values, events, and trainings. That level of transparency makes the company culture more than just a set of rules — it’s also part of a broader lifestyle and world view.
Do you know of a company with outstanding corporate culture? Let us know in the comments!