January 3, 2019
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Mat Vogels

3 companies that have mastered company culture

As a result, employee retention and engagement numbers are soaring

Ping-pong tables. Company slides from floor to floor. Football field offices. Grass covered roofs for working. La Croix delivered by unicorns. These are all aspects that make a good company culture, right?

 They may play a part, but company culture is much deeper than how much you spend on your employees. How you invest into your employees is just as important as what you invest. 

Great company cultures are the result of how your employees feel when they are in the office…and out of the office.

So, how do you make your people feel? Not sure how to find the answer? Scared to know the answer? That’s okay. We compiled a list of three companies we think go far and beyond the annual basketball tournament to provide the best company culture for their employees. Feel free to take some ideas from this list, do your own research, or just start experimenting. With that, let’s get into it!

Basecamp

Let’s start with the remote giant, Basecamp. Jason Fried has been very vocal about Basecamp’s stance on venture capital, Silicon Valley, team building, and many other topics on the blog their blog Signal Vs. Noise. One thing he doesn’t boast about all the time is the culture at Basecamp. The reason for this? He doesn’t have to because the culture speaks for itself. Take a look at this post highlighting their benefits. Block out some time. It’s a long list. 

Here are a few:

1. Top 5% Salaries

2. One-Month Sabbatical Every Three Years

3. $1000/annual Continuing Education Allowance

4. $1000/year Matching Charitable Gifts

5. Work Wherever You Want

You can even work from the shallows.

Want to work on a rock in the middle of the ocean? If you can find wifi, you can work at Basecamp.

I see a common theme here. Basecamp’s benefits speak wonders about their culture. Their culture is focused on their people. By paying them better, empowering them to live a more full life, encouraging them to educate themselves, providing time to let parents be parents, Basecamp is making it crystal clear what they care about in their culture. 

Basecamp is making a statement that it is a people-driven company, and the result is that it's a company that people want to be a part of. No water slides with floaties necessary. 

Lesson #1 — Care about your people and they will care about you.

REI

Next up on our list is REI. I know what you’re thinking. 

“REI? That’s not a tech company. Get them outta here! “ — you, the reader

We beg to differ, as they have one of the most impressive cultures out there. What, non-tech companies can have a great culture too? Yeah, you goof! Every company has a culture. It’s just up to them to steer it in the right direction. 

Pictured: REI Employee in the tent aisle.

REI is one company that has steered and continues to steer the culture in a very positive direction. Due to the values that it was built on, they usually only hire people who are outdoor enthusiasts. Because of this, everyone working at one of their hundreds of stores all have something in common; they love the outdoors. This creates a tribal feeling amongst the team. Whatever store it is, everyone shares this common link.

Additionally, although I was knocking the material perks earlier, REI gives very generous discounts and “challenge grants”, which gives the employees an opportunity to win free equipment. These material perks align with the overall culture of the company, and even create the opportunity for employees to share in new experiences. REI is creating a sort of tribe with their culture, and it’s a tribe that attracts thousands to apply every year. 

Lesson #2 — Don’t build a team; Build a tribe.

OnboardIQ

In a world (and job environment) where diversity can always be improved, it can be intimidating to join a team of mainly white men, even if they really want to expand their horizons. It’s a lot easier to scale a diverse team if you start with a diverse team, and that’s exactly what OnboardIQ has done. This single picture speaks volumes to their values on diversity and culture. More importantly, this picture tells any type of person in the world that they can have a place at this company if they have the chops.

As a relatively new company and one doing pretty well, this also sets the bar for future companies in and out of silicon valley. If OnboardIQ can do it, so can anyone. While everyone else catches up, I’m sure they will get the benefits of a talented and diverse talent pool, due to it being a company that people want to be a part of. 

Lesson #3 — Start diverse. Scale diverse.

We tried to leave the usual suspects off the list here. There are enough articles about them and we wanted to bring you a different perspective on culture…one that doesn’t talk about values, but lives them. Use these three companies and lessons that come with them as an example and something to build for:

Care about your people and they will care about you.Don’t build a workforce; Build a tribe.Start diverse. Scale diverse.

 Company culture is an organism, and it takes serious work to get it right. But if you do nail it, you have potentially hundreds of employees and thousands of family members to thank you for it. Don’t know where to start? We can help.