AuthorAuthored by: Megan Jendro
Some of the best businesses around the world, today and historically, have been praised for their ability to stand out in their own individual market space. And for a lot of them - their success can’t be explained or put into words. In the business world, we always discuss the businesses that are able to create a “competitive advantage”, or be different from their competitors. However, when asked to share their competitive advantage, or when its studied in a classroom, most of it boils down to something along the lines of, “well they have great people who inspire creativity and innovation.”
For example, some competitive advantages are less complicated to imitate. If you are a cost-leader in your industry, a competitor could enter your market and undercut your one advantage, cost. Likewise, if you have a new technology that only you own, eventually a copycat may come into the marketplace and potentially replicate your technology. In order to sustain a long-lasting competitive advantage, an extremely hard to replicate advantage is in fact your corporate culture.
Here are some examples of unique corporate culture in the business world:
Patagonia has made its wave in the apparel industry with their distinct corporate culture. Patagonia strives to have an employee-focused corporate culture where surfing, casual dress, and rebellious spirit are all encouraged. Their Ventura office also features a full child care service, and locks the headquarter doors at 8pm every night. By giving their employees more flexibility in their workplace, Patagonia has enjoyed numerous awards and recognition for their efforts, and as a bonus have seen steady growing profitability in their industry.
Netflix also has a quirky corporate culture, and from the outside can seem intimidating. Netflix allows complete flexibility with their employees’ work schedules. Netflix gives full control to their employees. They don’t care if you come into the office, work from home, take a sick day, etc. Netflix follows a deadline focused management style, and care most about if you get your work done on time. You would think that employees would take advantage of this management style, however, Netflix has only seen positive results from this change in corporate culture. Their employees actually work longer hours, and take off less sick days.
Warby Parker understands the idea that team unity is at the core of every initiative. They try their best to follow a flat organizational method, and have new hires engage with employees from all department levels. Warby Parker also has an entire team dedicated solely to enhancing the culture of their workplace. They put together regular events including lunches, unique programs, and even surprise company outings. They will even send random employees out to lunch together, increasing the level of connectivity in the work environment. Good team engagement leads to happier employees, which means higher retention, more efficient teams, and higher revenues.
How you can implement aspects of these corporate cultures into your workplace:
Although these three examples are all large scale companies, there are some ways to try and address corporate culture at a smaller level. Small steps can be taken to ensure your employees hold intrinsic motivation for your organization and work towards the success of your business.
First, management styles can play a large role in how your employees interact in their work environment. Although traditional management styles are widely used as the norm, micromanaging and strict hour requirements can lead to employees feeling overworked and unappreciated by their employers.
Second, show appreciation for your employees, in big ways and small. Work/life balance is essential. Being a flexible boss about scheduling and vacation can help your employees feel an unspoken trust, and leads to increased motivation. It can be costly to add more paid leave or vacation time, however, there are other small tokens of appreciation that can be shown. Whether that be bringing donuts to your employees on a Friday, letting your employees work from home every once in a while, or even a simple acknowledgement that you value their time and efforts at your business.
An important thing to remember is that your people are your best asset. They are the ones who run your day to day operations and ensure the success of your business. The more intrinsic motivation your employees feel, the more motivated they will feel to keep your business thriving.