In our last article, we talked about the kind of benefit that you produce by having a good or service that is intrinsically good. This time, we’re going to shift gears to talk about the second kind of benefit companies can provide: company culture.
Inside each company, there is an ecosystem of individuals and organizational principles that impact the lives of the people connected to that organization. Not only are employees affected by this culture, but so are their families, neighbors, and anyone else they interact with on a regular basis. Employees don’t exist within a corporate bubble. The emotions and attitudes they take with them outside the workplace are going to bleed into other areas of their lives. That is why creating a for-benefit culture within a business is going to have a widespread positive impact. This blog post will explore what a for-benefit culture looks like, and how you can create it.
You probably already have a mental image of what a strong for-benefit culture looks like. Unfortunately, many of us have likely learned this by experiencing the opposite. At some point, most people will work a job that doesn’t provide the type of benefit that makes it meaningful. Their work experience is like something out of a sitcom-- just an inconvenience that allows them to pay their bills, and can perhaps be utilized as an off-hand joke at some point.
Day-to-day drudgery doesn’t need to be the norm, though, if a company develops and nurtures a for-benefit culture.
Picture this: let’s say that there is a manager in a company that has really been cultivating for-benefit culture. The company is investing in this manager, aiding her in attaining personal and leadership development. She feels like she’s on a meaningful growth path. Not only does the company want to help her be the best manager she can be, but it also wants to help her be the best parent she can be, by ensuring that she has evenings and weekends free. On top of that, the benefits are good too, including vacations and quality healthcare.
Because this manager’s role has been infused with purpose and the positive support of her company, when she goes home to her spouse, she’s going to be less stressed. Less stress and less work anxiety will contribute to a healthier home life. Of course, there may still be challenges that arise along the way, but with a positive for-benefit culture at work, she can more easily disengage from these challenges at home and refresh her thinking.
All of this makes her a happier, healthier employee. In her interactions-- at work or away-- she is going to have greater mental clarity and sense of positivity. Perhaps that positivity will lead her to do good for those around her. Then those people may pass along this positivity to those around them, creating a ripple effect with for-benefit corporate culture at its center.
So, if that is what a for-benefit culture looks like, how do we attain it?
First, one key component of a for-benefit culture (as I’ve already touched on) is development. Everybody has goals and aspirations in life, and their work should be complementary to that-- not contradictory. If I want to reach a certain place in my career, tackle a specific issue, or be a part of a particular kind of team, a company with a strong for-benefit culture is going to recognize and nurture that.
For-benefit culture allows a company to look at my developmental goals, and then match me with or give me access to the resources-- such as training or learning opportunities-- that allow me to grow in the direction of those development goals. As I reach those goals, it’s going to mean a happier, more fulfilling life.
Current research shows that nearly three-fourths of employees are completely disengaged in the workplace. These employees may be doing their jobs, but they don’t really care. They’re likely comfortable doing the minimum amount of work required, and spending the rest of their time at work hunched over a smartphone, scrolling through social media.
Why would this happen? Well, think about the words often used in our culture to talk about business. It’s often described in terms of being crushing, or draining, or frustrating. Work is just a component of their life (and a frustrating one at that), rather than something that complements the other aspects of their life and identity. These are things that we obviously don’t want in our businesses, but not wanting them isn’t the same as actively attending to the conditions that prevent them from happening.
That’s why, in a for-benefit company culture, it’s important to create an environment in which each member of the team is supported as a whole person, rather than just as an employee. This means recognizing each employee as a unique person with individual abilities and ambitions. We want to treat employees and work with them in a way that work is a complementary component to their life, and not something where they can’t wait to clock out just so they can get away.
In taking care of the whole person, we have to also consider the physical well-being of employees. Are we offering them access to great healthcare? Fitness opportunities? Do we attend to their well-being by offering things like standing desks or different kinds of office layouts? Does it stand out from competitors? Thinking about these questions and considering what your business offers employees will allow you to get your hands on the dials and levers of creating a positive, for-benefit culture in the workplace.
If you look at companies that are really thriving, they are pursuing and providing these elements of company culture. There’s also one more hugely important area to consider when we talk about a for-benefit culture: purpose.
We find that when a company’s purpose has a meaningful social impact in the world-- such as solving a problem or helping a group of people-- it creates one of the biggest benefits for its employees. When people feel that their work is actually contributing something significant to other people, they tend to be more satisfied, to feel more fulfilled.
In fact, we find that for purpose-driven, for-benefit companies, the employee retention rate is through the roof. Where a normal company may be facing a sixty to seventy percent turnover about every five years, for-benefit companies-- especially those with a large purpose-- are looking at only 10% turnover.
If you’re in a business category in which you really need great employees to handle major challenges, you know that employee retention is one of the biggest issues you face. This is especially true if you’ve got a rock star, someone that’s really capable and great at what they do, but keep losing your rock stars to somebody who can pay them more or can offer a nicer climate.
For-benefit businesses don’t have this issue because people want to stay and continue doing the good that they’re doing.
For our film, RiseUP, we interviewed Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes. He said that people don’t leave TOMS-- they just don’t. He explained that every couple of years, every employee of the company gets to go on a giving trip. As you’re likely aware, TOMS is a one-for-one model. For every pair of shoes they sell, they give a pair away. So they send all of their employees, on a rotating basis, to give the shoes away. He went on to tell me that the number one reason someone leaves TOMS is that they are going to pursue a passion or dream outside of the company. He was very proud to send them off to follow their purpose.
Giving their shoes away was actually Mycoskie’s reason for starting the company, and it’s also the reason everybody keeps going to work there. They all want to be able to make a business that produces a big impact in the lives of people around the globe.
When looking at your company in terms of this second kind of benefit-- creating a company culture that is for-benefit-- you need to:
Bringing these elements together to create a truly for-benefit company culture is going to boost employee morale and retention, as employees will be proud of what they do and want to continue to pursue the company’s purpose. That’s good for the bottom line, and great for the world around us.