When I think of a company’s culture, I usually think one of two things, either the employees love working there, or they hate it! But culture affects everyone the business comes in contact with, not just the employees.
Clients and vendors are also touched by the business either in a positive or negative way and the feelings they are left with create their view of the business as a whole.
We hear it all the time, but does it matter to the success of the business? Since the employees are the ones that usually personify the culture, let’s look at how it affects them.
The proper environment makes all the difference.
I’m sure we have all seen both ends of the spectrum, people that look like they would rather be searching for ticks on a baboon’s butt and others that seem to have the most fulfilling job in the world! What is it that makes the difference? Are some people just naturally happy or miserable? Perhaps, but I believe that their environment has a lot to do with their attitude and overall demeanor.
“A good company culture keeps people interested in their work, it asks workers to communicate with each other about ideas and problems, and it greases the gears of the workplace and makes them run smoothly.”
–Susan Bratton, CEO of Savor Health.
Service above and beyond
Some people say sure they would be happy too if they had a high paying job with all the perks in the world but not in their measly job! Well what about a fast food restaurant? Certainly doesn’t sound like the most luxurious job, but one of my favorite company cultures to think about is Chick-fil-A. Stepping foot inside one of their establishments just brightens my mood immediately because everyone is so friendly and helpful. You see smiles and hear the words “my pleasure” flying out of their mouths all over the place. If you have a few kids with you or are having trouble getting around, they will gladly seat you at your table, take your order there and even bring your food to you. That’s service, above and beyond what is required, and it is because of the culture they have created.
If you’re wondering how that has worked out for Chick-fil-A financially, let me give you some numbers. According to a 2018 QSR Magazine report, Chick-fil-A ranked #8 in overall US sales of fast food franchises, the top three of which were McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway respectively. That doesn’t sound too positive for them if you look at it that way. However, if you look at individual restaurant sales for each of these same establishments, the average sales per unit of a Chick-fil-A sold nearly double that of a McDonalds! Actually, the average Chick-fil-A sold more than a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and a Subway all added together! And Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays when all the other competitors are open 7 days a week and some even 24 hours/day. One more way of solidifying their culture.
Treating people with the respect they deserve
If culture is so important, and lucrative, why isn’t every business run with the same passions and focus as Chick-fil-A? My short answer – it goes against the grain of business. Treating people (employees, clients and vendors) better than they expect costs time and money and there is no way to calculate the return on investment of this expense.
A few years ago, Top Coat Fabrication started taking 30-45 minutes every Monday to bring our full staff together for breakfast and a meeting to let them know we appreciate them and keep them up-to-date on things happening in the company. It costs a few hundred bucks a week for breakfast and production in the shop stands still during that time.
It’s not all work and no play
We also regularly like to give everyone hamburgers for lunch cooked by the management team, snow cones or ice cream on those hot summer afternoons, and even had a washer tournament recently that was one of the biggest hits with the team yet. Over the last few years we’ve also done events such as go-kart racing, Top Golf and a family day picnic. If someone was to ask me if these things are good for business, I would have to say they are priceless. Alone they are worth nothing but combined with the rest of our culture and values, they help solidify who we are!
Little things go a long way
It’s not big things like weight rooms or cruise gift certificates that make employees feel like they matter. It’s little things like shaking hands with them when you see them and getting to know who they are and the struggles they’re personally dealing with. A 3-minute, one-on-one, sincere conversation with someone does wonders for their sense of value.
Culture is proven by how people feel, not by words on building walls or tangible benefits given. Company values that are plastered on a website and throughout an office have no bearing on the actual company if they are not what really goes on. No matter what you say, it is how valued people feel (employees, vendors and clients alike) that defines the real culture. Ilene Marcus, Founder & CEO of Aligned Workplace says it well:
“It all comes down to what is truly valued and rewarded in your workplace… It does not matter if your culture is competitive, collaborative or entrepreneurial. If your policies and practices are not in sync with those values you will be plagued by high-turnover, customer retention issues and stagnant growth.”
Culture change doesn’t happen by
A company’s culture is not right or wrong. As a friend of mine says, “it just is what it is.” It has been naturally created over time by what is truly valued and pursued by the leaders; it is who the company really is. The cool thing is that it can always be changed. It doesn’t happen by accident and it is like a garden that must be nurtured in order to grow but it certainly can be done. It’s definitely easiest from the top-down but anyone in the company can start a revolution of culture change just by being genuine and caring enough to go against the grain.
What do you wish was different about the culture in your company? What can you do to help bring about that change?
Top Coat Fabrication