10 Steps to a Remarkable Company Culture
Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of BerylHealth, a hospital call-center business, talks and writes often about the importance of building a strong company culture--not just because it's a nice thing to do, but because culture can also improve your company's financial performance.
Since Spiegelman wanted BerylHealth to be a premium provider, and to charge 30 percent to 40 percent more than his next closest competitor, he had to also offer a premium service. A premium service requires top-notch talent, and, he says, a workplace that values its employees.
In 2012, Beryl was acquired by Stericyle, a $9 billion (market capitalization) publicly-traded company with 13,000 employees, in no small part due to the culture Spiegelman has created. Spiegelman was named Stericycle's chief culture officer, with the objective to roll out Beryl's culture to all Stericycle.
At Inc.'s GrowCo conference in New Orleans Thursday, Spiegelman outlined how you can make your company culture just as strong:
1. Define and communicate your core values.
"I was a cynic about all that, until I realized how important it was," said Spiegelman. So years ago he asked his employees to define what Beryl's core values are, and gave them credit for it. Now, one Beryl core value is to "never sacrifice quality," another is to "always do the right thing." These became guideposts for decision-making. If a potential new client would require Beryl to sacrifice it's quality, Spiegelman and his lieutenants would be empowered to turn it down.
2. Get in the dunk tank.
Culture is all about fun. "I don't care what business you're in," says Spiegelman, "you can have fun." Beryl, for instance, hosts events for families, and publishes a full-color magazine that is sent to employees' homes. Spiegelman hosts a Halloween contest, and has done the Harlem Shake. It's not about just being goofy; it's about actually trying to blur the line between personal and work life.
3. Show your employees you care (really).
If you want to build loyalty among your employees, make sure to show you care about them in the totality of their lives, Spiegelman says. When they start working for you, find out their kids' birthdays and their wedding-anniversary date, to commemorate those events with a card or a call. Ask about their hobbies and interests, so you can talk about those things, or reward them in ways they'll actually enjoy.
4. Hire for culture fit.
Alhough finding people who are the right fit for your company is very hard, it's an irreversible priority. At Beryl, Spiegelman screens candidates through tons of interviews. For every 125 people, his team hires only three--and that's for call-center jobs.
5. Get rid of whiners, losers, and jerks--today.
Among an audience of 75 people at Spiegelman's session, only two raised their hands to say they have no "whiners, losers, or jerks" on staff. Spiegelman recommends you give employees the tools they need to succeed. But if they don't then succeed, and they have a negative affect on morale overall, you have an obligation to act and get rid of those people--now.
6. Contribute to the community outside your office walls.
Ask your employees what they're passionate about in your community, and organize a way for your company to get involved in it. Get your hands dirty. Get your people doing good for those nearby.
7. Do the math.
Measure your employees' satisfaction periodically, and then respond to their feedback. If your scores go up, convey your improvements and get "credit" for it.
8. Realize job satisfaction ain't about money.
Sure, everybody wants to be paid, but what's more important is how people are made to feel at the office. They want acknowledgement, respect, recognition, and a simple "thank you."
9. You're a teacher.
Ninety-nine percent of employees want to feel there's a path to professional growth and a way to move up in your organization, says Spiegelman. You need to offer training and development programs, and show that you're committed to their education, improvement, and advancement.
10. Commit to a higher purpose.
Make sure you convey your company's higher purpose--to improve patient care, say, or advance the world technologically--so they have something they believe in beyond just a "job."
Even if you're eager to get going building your company culture, Spiegelman recommends you start slow. As does any solid foundation, it will take time to build, so don't rush it.
ALLISON FASS | Staff Writer | Deputy Editor, Inc.com
Allison Fass is deputy editor of Inc.com. A longtime business journalist at Forbes and The New York Times, she has also held roles in venture capital and innovation at Hearst Interactive Media and digital strategy at a start-up consultancy.