Are your corporate culture initiatives completely missing the mark?

I don’t know about you but I’ve seen my fair share of companies posting pictures of their ice cream socials or highlighting articles about free dry cleaning and casual wear Fridays.

What’s sad is how many influential “thought leaders” write articles about how to standardize, implement, and internally market a new corporate culture initiative. If the organization’s intent is to use culture as a tactic, then they’ve already failed.

Culture isn’t something that should be invested into to drive business growth.

Culture isn’t something that should have to be internally marketed.

Culture isn’t something that should be designed as one size fits all.

I’m all for free ice cream, massages, scavenger hunts, and casual wear Friday but companies that want to tout a great corporate culture by providing extrinsic rewards to people in a uniformed way are out of touch with what people truly desire from work. I fear that far too many senior leadership teams view employees like chickens. While some companies have graduated from the battery cage system to cage free, should there be some congratulations?

Is the aspirational goal from there to be viewed as a free range farmer?

Here’s the thing, people are not chickens and even in a free range environment each person has individual needs and drivers that need to be met to truly have a culture to be proud of.

People see right through corporation’s attempts to dupe them with superficial things. They know it’s being done for pictures on their social media or to be able to tell the board that they are doing x, y, and z to drive corporate culture. Ice cream socials do not meet the deep need for people to find meaning in their work.

Creating a meaningful culture begins with the intent of the organization. If the goal of improving culture is to drive the growth of the business they’ve already failed. Growth ends up being a byproduct of prioritizing people. If the intent is to create a work environment that allows people to build strong relationships, make a positive impact with their work, and have opportunities to grow and develop then they are on the right track.

I was fortunate to participate in a week long immersion training with Imperative ( They are the only company to measure and grow purpose in organizations. Imperative was founded as a Benefit Corporation to bring these purpose insights to the workforce and enable everyone to uncover and apply their purpose drivers to realize their potential as employees and members of society. We are proud to be working with Imperative and to call companies like LinkedIn, Kenneth Cole, West Elm, and Met Life fellow purpose-oriented organizations.

They have tools that will allow your organization to focus on what matters most, your people. As you prioritize the unique work that people need to do to find fulfillment in their work, your culture will take shape. Culture programs are just window dressing. If you really want to change the how people show up to work, start with purpose.

For more info on what Imperative is doing check out their website or reach out to me directly and I’ll get an introduction going.


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