Don’t Confuse Company Perks with Culture

Photo by Bao Truong on Unsplash

Ping pong and Foosball tables, free snacks, kegs of beer, work-from-home days — these are all perks of a job, not culture. Certainly, they can be byproducts of the culture that actually exists within a company. But, they should be seen for what they really are. Perks and benefits.

True company culture is rooted in what a company and its employees actually think, say, and do. If a company values truth and integrity, they will display it. If a company values the bottom line and a hierarchical structure, they will make it known.

During job interviews, what do you put more emphasis on? Perks or culture? Maybe, you discuss neither… If you fail to bring up culture, then you are doing your company and the candidate a disservice. I encourage you to focus on what culture actually is at your company and see if that is something attractive to the candidate and is an environment they will thrive in.

Likewise, when is the last time you audited your company’s culture to learn what it actually is versus what you think it is? If there is a gap that leans towards the negative, work on repairing the cultural gap.

Why does company culture matter so much? According to research conducted by Hays, “47 percent of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason.” Employees are more engaged, productive, and likely to stay when working in environments where the company’s cultural values match their own.

Ask yourself the following simple questions to assess your company’s culture -

  1. What is the top-down organizational structure? Hierarchical or is it more flat and agile?
  2. Is the organization so big that the company has a typical corporate feel and teams form their own unique cultural offsets? Or, is it big, but still feels small?
  3. Does leadership walk the talk? Or, do they say one thing and do the other?
  4. Are employees free to determine how they go about completing their own tasks? Or, are there restrictive procedures?
  5. Are employees free to skip levels and talk to upper management? Or, do they have to go through a chain of command?
  6. Does the company have a strong outlook for the future? Or, are they mainly in an operational steady-state?
  7. Are employees able to speak freely when they see issues or have ideas? Or, do they get discouraged after they provide feedback?
  8. Does the company encourage professional development opportunities? Or, do employees leave to seek development and advancement elsewhere?
  9. How do employees at your organization like to work? Have fun?
  10. How is employee performance tracked and measured?

Answering these questions will get you closer to understanding the true culture of your company — what it values, what it doesn’t value, and how employees reflect those values. This will, in turn, allow you to better communicate culture to new prospects and to measure alignment with those values. This assessment also can bring to light where the company’s “written” values fall short from reality.

Employees are more engaged, productive, and likely to stay when working in environments where the company’s cultural values match their own.

Whether your company is new or has been around for a while, to create and maintain the culture you want, focus on -

  1. Creating core values that are clear, concise, and give employees a sense of connection with the company
  2. Engaging employees to make values known, encouraging them to adopt them, and giving them a support system to carry them out
  3. Creating trust throughout the company so that the integrity of the values remain intact, employees feel safe to appropriately challenge them, and allow values to evolve over time

If this all leads to a few more perks, then awesome! Just remember, don’t confuse them with culture. 😀

Have some helpful tips for defining and broadcasting company culture? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss. Better yet, hang out with us on Slack! Looking for a tool to be a window into your company’s culture? Check out Dawfin.

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash