What Sets Great Company Culture Apart

After the birth of our daughter, my wife and I moved from Grand Rapids, MI, to Metro Detroit. I was working with Manpower; I loved my job there and I hoped they had an open position I could transfer to in Detroit.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any opportunities that fit my career progression. Fortunately for me, however, I found an absolutely GREAT company. What made this particular company stand out from the rest? There’s always a “WOW” factor that differentiates a great company culture from the millions of others. Most “WOW” culture factors ultimately boil down to one thing: service.

What Makes for a Great Work Culture?

From the time I began the journey to my current company, I was impressed with the follow-up and follow-through with their internal culture. While I wasn’t certain I would get the position, I could already tell the company valued me as a person. How so? In small acts of service.

For instance, when I met with the owner, there was already a glass of ice cold water next to a beautiful pitcher of water. You’re probably asking “so what?” Well, it saved him from asking me if I wanted something to drink, and, more importantly, it saved me the burden of even having to ask.

The owner is proactive; he anticipates what someone may need or want and does what he can to accommodate. What did it cost him? A quick thought and less than a minute of pouring some water. The value it brought far outweighed the cost of his thought to service a person coming in for an interview.

All great companies are service-oriented and exceed expectations with their culture and their services. No matter what the industry, a great company delivers a product or service in a way that demonstrates it cares more about the customer as a person than just dollar signs. The client is not just another book of business and a customer is not just another consumer handing over money; they are people of value and should be served. Great companies also know how important employees are to their success.

Building a Great Family Culture

Products and services cannot be delivered without dedicated and hard-working employees. A great company recognizes that and does what it can to let employees realize the value they contribute to the company.

Here’s the first time I realized how my employer valued me:

During my first day, the Director of Human Resources asked me to stop by his office before I left for the day. I figured it was to wrap up necessary paperwork. When I knocked on his door, he had a big smile on his face, a bouquet of flowers and a card in hand, and said, “This is for Amanda.”

Amanda is my WIFE. This person, who hears hundreds of names per week, listened when I shared a brief story about my family. It’s impressive for a co-worker to remember a new-hire’s name at the end of the day, let alone a member of senior leadership remembering that person’s spouse’s name.

I was blown away. Along with the bouquet of flowers, there was a note that welcomed my wife into the IMPACT family, knowing that she will be at company events and holiday parties for years to come. Even if you have a recent start-up without the monetary funds for any additional spending, just remembering a minor detail about a new employee can make a tremendous impact.

Following Through with that Family Culture

Great companies foster a culture of employees who feel valued.  The more appreciated one feels, the more invested that employee will be in the company. But this is where I see many companies fall short: the pursuit of profit can sometimes cloud one’s judgment and they end up losing sight of an employee’s value.

Even a “good company” that provides great service to clients and customers may neglect the little things that reinforce the value of their employees. A quick “thank you” for a well-written proposal or brief public recognition for a job well done can go a very long way. We must always keep in mind that a company is an entity that cannot provide a product or service without employees. Period.

When employees feel valued, management earns trust. When employees trust management, they are more apt to listen to management instead of becoming disengaged. There are few things more destructive to productivity than disengaged employees.

When employees feel valued and truly buy into a company’s mission, those employees tend to be more passionate with their work. That passion gets transferred to whatever service the company provides. What can make a “good company” into a GREAT company may only be a mindset of serving employees so they feel valued, which breeds a creative and fun work culture and subsequently exceeds the expectations for a client or customer.  The company will see business flourish.


Image: iStock

About The Author

Miles provides professional staff management for companies throughout Metro Detroit. Previously, he was a Recruiter with a multi-billion dollar staffing agency and ranked in the top 3 for most producing Talent Acquisition Specialists in the nation. Miles consults on business culture, career advancement, and professional development.