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    3 Companies with Kick-Butt Company Culture

    A company’s culture commonly refers to employees’ shared beliefs and values and how they’re “brought to life” in the workplace, and it is a key component of employee retention. Company culture is defined and set from the top down, by the leaders of your organization. Leadership should take a proactive role and define the core company values, if not already established. Remember to be authentic because your company is unique, and the values and principles of the company should reflect this endeavor. This is valuable time spent because the company’s values should project the company’s brand message.

    Core values help employees learn what is important to your organization, what role they play in embodying those values, and how they can affect the company overall. Keep the values to a select few, as you want all employees to “live the culture.”

    Building a solid company culture is not easy and doesn't happen overnight (click here to learn how to establish company culture!). Here are three companies that have built a strong culture:


    Search engine juggernaut, Google, is well-known for its culture of great employee perks, stellar pay and advancement opportunities, and environment of talented and driven employees. Some of their most raved-about perks include:

    • Pet-friendly environment

    • Employee trips and parties

    • Free meals

    Key takeaway:

    While your business may never be able to rival Google’s resort-style campus, you can incorporate reasonable perks and employee benefits, such as holiday bonuses or casual Fridays, into your culture to attract and retain employees.

    Related reading: Three Ways to Find Out How Your Company Ranks

    2. Starbucks

    In 2007, Starbucks was on the brink of financial disaster—sales were dramatically plunging and stocks were sinking. In 2008, Howard Schultz became Starbucks' CEO and transformed the company by taking radical steps to change the way business was conducted. One example included closing 7,000 stores nationwide for “Expresso Excellence Training.” He sent a clear message to all employees about his “uncompromising commitment to core values.” Today, Starbucks is known for being the largest coffeemaker in the world, has a prominent brand identity, and has a thriving company culture.

    Key takeaway:

    Company culture evolves, and sometimes, it loses its luster, but it is critical that leadership make it a priority to keep it top of mind for all employees in the organization.

    3. Zappos

    Zappos begins their interview process with a “cultural fit” interview to determine if the candidate is a good match for their company culture—this interview carries half the weight in whether or not the candidate will even be invited to continue the interview process. Once an employee is hired, they spend the first three to four weeks in training, learning every aspect of Zappos’ core values. Notable company perks include:

    • Regular employee team-building events

    • Performance- and skills-only based pay raises

    • Fun, family like work environment

    Key takeaway:

    Zappos invests so much time, energy, and even money (they offer new hires $3,000 to quit after the first week if they don’t feel the job is a good fit for them) into finding culturally compatible employees because they believe cultural fit is the foundation for great customer service and a strong brand.

    Related reading: Why Your Company Culture Could Send Ideal Hires for the Hills

    As your company grows, and more employees are hired, the HR department should put a plan in place to ensure that your company's core values are shared with new hires. They can utilize various methods to see where potential employees stand and then determine if they are the right fit for your organization. Whatever stage your company is experiencing (no matter if it's growing, adding new products/services, or going through a "rebuilding" phase), it’s vital to stay engaged with your employees.

    Your business culture—whether conservative or more casual—is ultimately your decision, but the important thing to remember is consistency and transparency. Your employees should be completely aware of your expectations when it comes to code of conduct and corporate policies.

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    Related Categories

    Recruiting & Employee Retention

    Greg Hermanson

    Greg Hermanson is responsible for the recruiting and hiring of SWBC employees—a number which has grown from 400 to more than 3,500 since he joined the company in January 2005. In addition, as Vice President of Human Resources, he is responsible for employee relations and plays a key role in the performance management process. Greg and his Staffing and Employee Relations teams have helped SWBC to maintain the culture that facilitated our organization being named one of the “Best Companies to Work for in Texas” by Texas Monthly.

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