The secret sauce of strong companies: What’s the recipe?

The secret sauce of strong companies: What’s the recipe?

Corporate culture is a vital part of any organization, but it can be hard to define—and even harder to change. It’s the “secret sauce”—the shared values and norms that drive employee engagement and can make one organization merely effective, while another feels downright magical. Build comp culture LI

A team from Columbia Business School, Duke University, and the National Bureau of Economic Research surveyed CEOs and CFOs and found that more than half of respondents listed culture as one of the top three drivers of firm value, with a staggering 92 percent saying that improving their culture would increase their company’s value.[1] And yet while they clearly understood the importance of a strong culture, only 16 percent believed theirs was where it should be.

It may seem like a shocking figure, but maybe not when you consider that Gallup claims that, while employee engagement in the U.S. has been rising, nearly two-thirds of workers are still considered “not engaged.”[2] Then add in millennials who are flooding the labor force armed with their new expectations and different demands—Fortune reported that millennials would take an average pay cut of nearly $8,000 per year if it meant finding a more fulfilling job, better work-life balance, or a more desirable corporate culture[3]—and we simply can’t deny that understanding what goes into building a strong culture is more important than ever.

You might think it would be hard to compare the culture at a tech start-up, with its bean bag chairs, ping pong tables, and open-concept workspaces with that of a more traditional corporate environment, but we’ve found there are tried-and-true values and norms that can help to shape a strong culture and also transcend industries, cities, and even generations. Take wellness, for example. We know that nearly nine in 10 workers at companies that promote well-being initiatives would recommend their employer as a good place to work.[4] Empathy is another: 96% of employees rate showing empathy as critical to improving employee retention.[5]

Fortunately companies also have an invaluable tool at their disposal, if they choose to harness its power. Technology makes it possible for supervisors to deliver more real-time feedback to their employees, whom statistics show are craving it; it can foster better and faster communication and collaboration within teams; it enables flexibility in work location and hours, making that ever-elusive “work-life balance” more attainable; and it provides employees greater access to the training and development they’re seeking[6].

It’s safe to say that it’s a universally accepted notion that a strong culture helps to build strong companies that deliver strong performance. If you’re looking for ideas on how to get there, let’s talk.

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