Recipe for Success: Bake Positive Business Culture into Your DNA

Positive business culture

One of the errors first-time bakers often make is sneaking a bite of unsweetened baking chocolate during the mixing process.

For those unfamiliar, unsweetened baking chocolate looks just like the good stuff, but it doesn't have any sugar. The taste is awful! but the failed expectation is worse, enough to cause one to be wary of that next chocolate bar.

People who've had the experience of positive business culture going south into unexpected territory might recognize the analogy. When a workplace philosophy founders when culture becomes unrecognizable, as has been reported in the news lately the problem isn't just unhappiness; it's keen disappointment in the failure between expectation and reality. And when that happens, employees begin to mistrust what they thought they knew, and they're likely to quickly react in other words, take their skills elsewhere.

Baking Culture into Your DNA

This is what can happen when culture is in name only when it's not backed up by ingredients like value statements that instruct on everything from hiring to diversity. Consistency of culture requires a philosophy that pivots with the organization. In workplaces that do, market or economy can change, but foundation won't.

Accenture's Julie Wilkes uses the term, "baked into the DNA" to describe her own organization. The company's made a name for itself as a uniquely supportive workplace, and as a result has earned spots on best workplace lists as well as of companies most admired.

And that starts with an unwavering commitment to culture that lives everywhere, from the company's HR portal to its investor letters. Julie's own role at the company North American Wellness Lead, focused on helping people have great careers and great lives is itself a statement of values. Equally important, Accenture's culture is built on a platform that moves with the workforce. In other words, that enables Julie to assess what people need today and then approach leaders with requests.

Leaders then don't have to be sold on the kinds of trailblazing response programs (milk delivery for new mothers; exceptional leave policies to name just two) that have kept the company in the news because the culture is in effect written into the charter.

Bottom Lines Built on Culture

Such philosophies have substantial upside. Giving people solid expectations about a job supports a company through challenging times and flush. It also ensures that people across a dispersed workplace have a consistent experience.

This is particularly important now when employees have made it clear that company bests job in pecking order when it comes to employment choices. Employees today report they choose positions for organization and culture versus title and reports. That connection has been shown to have considerable benefits in people who are significantly more productive and less likely to consider jumping ship. Research in fact says people in these so-named dream companies are nearly 200% less likely to leave their jobs.

But it only works if culture is consistent. That this is true can be illustrated by companies that have seen opportunity in abandoning their principals and as a result made the kind of news nobody covets - the kind reporting mass exoduses and vocally unhappy former employees.

But the flipside is equal and opposite. When an organization consistently delivers on its values; when it's willing to pivot with the workforce and live up to the workplaces people sign employment contracts to experience, expectation and reality are in synch. And the reality of that positive culture leaves a great taste for everyone.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.