Let’s take a walk back in time. Imagine that you’ve time-traveled back to 2015. You’ve landed an amazing role at one of your dream tech companies, and you can’t be any more excited because they’re considered one of the industry benchmarks for “great company culture”. One step inside headquarters and you are bombarded with a plethora of extracurricular activities and modern and extreme amenities galore—foosball, pancake breakfasts and all-day buffets, fully stocked bars and a collection of kegs, colorful parties, trike relays, rock wall, free kombucha and nitro cold brew, summer Fridays, and everything a 4-star hotel would offer.
It was all a dream
Just when your mind worked itself out of decision paralysis and reached for a gluten-free, dairy-free cinnamon roll, a time travel conductor snatches you back into 2022 where companies are navigating a pandemic era and have grown into hybrid workforces (craft beer on tap not included). What a ride, what a ride.
Was our previous definition of great company culture all a dream? Did we love having a never-ending snack drawer and seventy-two birthday parties per week? Of course, we did. But is real great company culture built on over-embellished fun and “perks and“stuff”? Is this really what people wanted and was it essential to creating high-performing teams, a strong, loyal workforce, and a revenue-generating company? It can’t possibly be that simple, and if it were, every company would be wildly successful with zero turnovers. Budgets built for new office scooters and beer bongs would bring in 1000% ROI. But that wasn’t everything, was it?
We are now in a completely different place. The office party zone is now empty, and the holiday parties and birthday celebrations are held virtually over Zoom. The pandemic created a worldwide crisis that left humans no other choice but to prioritize what meant the most to them, and soon, employers struggled to recruit and retain top talent. Without physical “perks and stuff,” what does actual great company culture look like now?
A renewed focus on workplace culture
“Perks and stuff” don’t feed the company and its teams the way it was once believed; rather, the outcomes of those “perks and stuff” are tied to what people actually want: community, teamwork, shared laughter, and life experiences. So, how can companies build upon past and existing “perks and stuff” to create a meaningful company culture? We focus on outcomes that matter. Successful businesses are built by real humans. People with real-life challenges and experiences. Safety and health measures matter. Mental health matters. Equity matters. Personal and professional growth matters. Family time matters. Competitive compensation matters. Paid maternity and paternity leave matters.
Building meaningful company culture means prioritizing defining issues that matter most to your team and job candidates:
- Address how to manage fairness and equity across varied employee experiences by driving and progressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
- Offer permanent flexible work such as hybrid or fully remote roles and invest in collaboration technology to improve productivity and efficiency
- Build employee trust and engagement through celebrating employee recognition
- Automate certain managerial tasks to create space for more relationship building
- Expand wellness support to include mental health benefits, physical well-being, and financial well-being
- Produce a safe work environment that combats internal and external challenges
- Adopt empathetic, people-centered leadership
- Provide structured educational and leadership opportunities
We want our teams to know that they can work together openly and honestly and that they are supported with resources if they want to step out of their comfort zones to take calculated risks or to take the day off to put their family first.
At UDG, we believe that we have embedded these pieces into our everyday lives. We truly care about each other as humans and are not afraid to put time towards feeding that need. We still have goofy office events such as happy hour and full-belly birthday and holiday laughs, albeit virtually through Zoom. We still love summer Fridays, in our company, it’s a surprise llama guest during an all-hands meeting, and we live for innovating human experiences. So, if “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” was famously said by Peter Drucker, then we say, “Great company culture eats foosball tournaments for lunch.”