When customers walk out of a Jamba Juice store, they leave with a delicious healthy smoothie and, hopefully, with a smile. The same idea can be said about Jamba Juice employees who hopefully leave work with a smile on their face each day thanks to an effective corporate culture that prizes health, wellness, and engagement.
Jamba Juice CEO James White took over the company during a hard time in December 2008, when most companies were going through a recession. Instead of revamping things completely, he asked employees what aspects of the work experience were the most important to them and then used that feedback to develop a culture that prizes employees and their overall wellbeing.
In the ensuing years James has continued to build a culture where all employees, no matter if they are in corporate headquarters or making smoothies on the frontline, are energetic and engaged. The Jamba example showcases how developing an engaged corporate culture can truly create a competitive advantage. Here are five keys to keeping employees engaged and effective throughout the culture:
Actively engage the community. Employees always have opinions about what they want from their work experience, so take advantage of that and give employees the power to build the culture they want to live in. Coming into his executive role, James asked employees what aspects of work they valued most, and then used that as the basis for the culture. James also runs a leadership seminar where he leads around 15 employees a month through a seminar that invests in their development through cross-functional learning and real work. The program develops leaders at all levels, engages employees, and creates a different way to work for the next generation. When the company is engaged in employee success, employees will naturally be more actively engaged.
Find the sweet spot. James explains the importance of encouraging employees to find their sweet spot at work, where the combination of employee competencies, passions, and the needs of the company come together. When employees are working in their sweet spot, they are excited about the work they are doing and will feel more engaged. They will also feel free to be themselves at work and find responsibilities that push themselves out of their comfort zones. Putting employees in their sweet spots involves knowing each employee and caring about their personal growth, not just the company's revenue.
Start from the top down. If the CEO and other executives aren't on board, a new corporate culture won't happen. It takes the employees to provide feedback and to put the culture into action, but the CEO leads by example. Learning to view feedback as a gift that can finesse the culture is vitally important. At Jamba, this takes place through CEO-led town hall meetings, surveys, department meetings, and more. When employees see the CEO personally invested in building an engaged workforce, they are more likely to want to build a strong culture and get involved.
Find common passions. For customers and employees, Jamba Juice is all about the lifestyle. Employees at Jamba all want to build a healthy lifestyle and feel like they are contributing to something greater. Passions can also lie outside the office with hobbies and interests. Building things into the culture where people can connect in a different way, such as organizing a cooking club or hiking group, allows employees to connect outside the office. When employees feel connected and passionate about the same things, they are more likely to work together and enjoy coming to work.
Make it fun. The corporate culture at Jamba starts with fun. If employees aren't having fun and enjoying the work they are doing, nothing else matters. Being energetic from the top down and finding ways to spread that joy brings happiness to employees and customers alike. Perks are important, but they aren't everything. The best way to utilize fun at work is to use it to build community within the organization.
Corporate culture is the DNA of the company and what drives a company when no one is looking. By taking the time to build and develop an engaged culture and employee base, the company can continue to move forward with great success.