One evening, a neighbor heard laughter and music on the other side of his fence. He peeked over and saw his neighbors in a new hot tub. They were drinking wine, laughing, and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. That’s it he thought – we need to buy a hot tub. That will fix everything! So, he did. Unfortunately it didn’t work the same way for he and his wife. He missed the significant investment of time and energy his neighbors had put into building and maintaining their relationship. It’s the same way with an organization’s culture!
Glance through this year’s “100 Best Company” winners and “hot tub ideas” jump out. Yes, there are some unique perks offered like: onsite health center, Pilates classes, employee fitness incentives, child-care centers, and free income tax preparation. But dig a little deeper and you will find some compelling, consistent “cultural investments”. How does your organization stack up to the following four?
- Corporate values. At Roche Diagnostics, the first few days of new hire orientation focus on the company’s core values and its culture of transparency and accountability. TEKsystems asserts that its’ four values shape its hiring decisions and how they work with its customers. Scripps Health’s present workforce and alumni help feed their talent pipeline with “others with similar values.”
- Identity. At the biotech giant Genentech, staff is inspired by patient stories - constantly reminding them of why they do what they do. The Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter expects all 700+ lawyers to devote 15% of their time to pro bono work. At Denver based PCL Construction Enterprise, employees who volunteer in the community can win $200 “pay it forward checks” for the charity of their choice.
- On-going Development. Wegmans Food Markets offers an employee scholarship program and stretch assignments to help young employees grow within the company. 66% of their jobs are filled internally. Southern Ohio Medical Center pays 100% of tuition for employees seeking to advance their education and pursue a degree in the medical field. Ernest and Young sent more than 50 interns to work in a foreign office for a month last year.
- Leading by example. Last year the CEO and senior management at NuStar Energy gave up their bonuses so that employees could keep theirs. Deloitte champions diversity and now has its’ first female chairman and minority CEO. Scripps Health CEO told employees he plans to cut spending by $300M by 2016 without laying anyone off.
So, if you want to maximize growth and success – avoid buying “hot tubs ideas” and instead invest in your culture. It pays off! Consider the industry low turnover rates at many of the “100 Best Companies” and the fact they collectively need to fill 114,000 jobs.