Top Three Key Learnings From Conducting 19 Company Culture Tours

Top Three Key Learnings From Conducting 19 Company Culture Tours

As 2016 is coming to an end, I’m looking back at all the changes we have seen in the people and culture space.  Over the course of the year, I visited 19 companies across the US and Europe conducting culture tours learning a lot through the process.

Here are my top three key learnings from conducting 19 company culture tours this year.

1. Invest in Growth More Than Perks

Over the last few years, we have seen the perks war.  Talent has started to see right through this, and the top rated companies to work for on Glassdoor know it too.  You cannot buy great company culture with ping pong and free beer.

While at Hubspot, Caroline Cotto from the Employee Experience team said:

“We think about – if we stripped away all the perks, would our culture stand on its own? Would people still be invested in working here?”  

I believe this change is in part, due to the millennial workforce arriving at their 30’s.  As millennials mature, free lunches and cool parties are less appealing. They are more interested in opportunities to develop professionally and contribute to meaningful work as they build their portfolio.

Learning Tip:
Ask yourself how might we invest in the professional development and growth of our people in big and small ways?

2. Think of Your Company as a Community

Hung and I had the opportunity to attend the CMX West conference for community managers.  We agree with their vision that the future of business is community.  Evidence can be found in the importance of community in several areas:

  • Recruiting programs are investing more in referral programs as a community-oriented way to attract and retain talent.

  • Former employees are now seen as alumni, who can be some of your best brand advocates and potential brand ambassadors.

  • They can also decide to come back and join you again.  This has been coined as a ‘boomerang employee’ (which can translate to faster and less costly hiring/onboarding).

  • Companies like Medium, Zappos, and Buffer have been recognized for flatter hierarchies with a community-based workplace models such holacracy and agile.

Forward-thinking companies see their talent as part of their wider community and this stretches beyond the walls of the workplace.

Learning Tip:
Ask yourself how might we create a community-oriented approach to our company?


3. If You Want to Change Your Culture, Start with Technology

During this year’s summit, we heard from Peter Scocimara at Google for Work where he said:

“If you want to change the culture, one of the first and fastest ways to do this is by changing the technology you are using.”  

I couldn’t agree more.

I believe the movement to flatter hierarchies has been propelled by more open and collaborative tools.  Working with colleagues in the cloud with a collaborative document like Google drive changes how people work together.

If you are feeling stuck with how to innovate your culture, try experimenting with new technology tools. Just remember, that anytime you propose something new. be sure to create a case for it by trying it with yourself first.

In my experience with helping teams adopt new software, the biggest error I see is rolling out a new tool before experimenting with it on a smaller scale first.

Learning Tip:
Ask yourself what technology are we currently using to collaborate?  How might we adopt different tools that support the culture I want to work in?

Thank you to all who welcomed me at Spotify, Skype, Airbnb, Digital Ocean, Next Jump, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Twitter, Yammer, Asana, Pandora, Hubspot, Typeform, New Relic, Wayfair, Redbooth, and Zinc.

Is there a company I haven’t visited yet that you think I should?  Let me know in the comments.

Vanessa Shaw is founder of Human Side of Tech, through which she advises forward thinking thinking executives and HR leaders to operate their companies with a culture-first approach, so that they can turn challenge into opportunity when facing rapid growth, digital disruption and culture change.