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The Increasing Importance of Culture

Co-written with Daniel Dubois

In recent years we’ve seen a reinvention of corporate work-life. For employers, cultural fit is now valued higher than skill. For employees, the cultural experience at work is more valuable than pay and traditional incentive plans. If a company wants any type of retention they will have to create an environment of purpose and experiences. How? By focusing on being apart of something bigger than simply work, and understanding what culture means for each organization and highlighting it, as opposed to benchmarking and comparing apples to oranges.

Today’s workforce is looking for more than a paycheque. They want to build and create something that moves society forward while feeling a sense of belonging in everything they do. Employees are looking for a strong sense of “why” behind their work. If a company doesn’t have a true “why”, their retention will suffer from an all too typical case of lack of purpose. Companies who have a clear purpose will have a much better time finding people who are passionate about joining their mission. Purpose sparks passion and passion creates authentic experiences. After all, people don’t buy want you do, they buy why you do it. Want an engaged team? Understand your why.

Companies who have a clear purpose will have a much better time finding people who are passionate about joining their mission

When it comes to culture, it is important to understand that culture isn’t something that can be compared. A good culture, by our definition, is the optimized environment that includes the tools and setting for an employee to do their best work because they want to, not because they feel they have to. This means that the idea of a ‘best culture’ shouldn’t and can’t exist when each environment created will be optimized only for the people working there. To think of comparing one office space and the relationships of the people within it to another would then be a waste of time and resources. The focus should be an internal audit, not an external comparison.

the idea of a ‘best culture’ shouldn’t exist

Employers value cultural fit and experiences over skill and requirements. It’s no longer rare to have a first or second interview outside of the office to specifically test culture fit. Brain Scudamore starts an interview with a beer to test how he gets along with the potential new hire. Next is the “BBQ test” with the candidate and his team to see how the individual fits with the larger corporate culture. Every potential hire at 1-800-GOT-JUNK is asked questions about purpose and values. Individual purpose that is aligned with company purpose drives a passionate culture of building something bigger than yourself.

These examples speak to something bigger than just skills and requirements, and education and experience; it about ‘desired experiences’ and values of the people that will be performing the tasks required to get the job completed. This should be considered a non-starter, if the fit isn’t there. An employee that isn’t engaged from the beginning is likely on their way out before they’ve sat in their desk for the first time; its just a matter of when.

Valuing culture is no short-term trend, but rather, a movement towards a generation experiencing a sense of purpose in everything they do. Deloitte says that 80% of employees are dissatisfied with their job. Scott Dinsmore points out in his TEDx Talk that this is changing quickly and for the first time in U.S. history, more people are quitting their jobs than getting fired. Employees are shifting their mindset from “how could I possibly do what I love?” to “how could I possibly not?”

It just so happens that being a part of something bigger than yourself is one of the cornerstones of happiness. Understanding what makes humans happy is essential in understanding how to create an engaged workplace.

According to Tony Hsieh in Delivering Happiness, the top four principles include:

  1. A sense of control
  2. Perceived progress
  3. Connectedness
  4. Vision and Meaning

In Tony’s book, happiness and incredible culture is found when a team experiences flow. Flow is found when an individual is a part of something bigger than themselves. We often hear referred to as “in the zone.” Flow happens when you are literally on a mission with a clear identity of why you are doing what you’re doing. Your actions are influenced by who you spend the most amount of your time with. And that’s why culture impacts how resilient your “why” truly is.

Each organization is different and each company should treat their culture as unique. The world isn’t influenced by people trying to be like it, neither should your culture. Instead let’s embrace our culture and create memorable experiences by understanding our true purpose. By knowing your “why” we’ll spark passion and creativity that will lead to increased engagement and overall happier, more fulfilled lives. After all, life’s too short not to do what you love and to be surrounded by a culture of people that you thoroughly care about. Let’s create a world of happier people by creating a sense of purpose in everything that we do.

Eric Termuende and Daniel Dubois are both Canadian G20 Delegates that will be representing Canada this year in Bejing. 

Eric Termuende is Co-Founder and CEO of Gen Y Inc., a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum, and awarded one of the world’s top innovators under 35 by Ashoka and American Express in 2015.

Daniel Dubois is the Founder and CEO at ShareShed and He is a fellow at The Next Big Thing (TNBT), Entrepreneur in Residence at Hootsuite, Top 30 Under 30, and Speaker at both We Day and TEDx

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