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That moment when you realize your company culture is a good one

Celebrating our company culture

It’s sometimes hard to quantify the impact of culture on a company’s performance and achievements. Sure, you can track staff retention, productivity and satisfaction – all of which are indicators of a positive or negative culture. A negative culture is perhaps easier to spot when the result is high staff turnover, misalignment of goals or low team performance.

It’s perhaps trickier to measure the effect of a positive company culture, because we tend to reset the bar higher and higher each year without stopping to consider how far we have come.

Which is why every now and then, it’s great to be exposed to outcomes that really reinforce the success of your collective efforts at building and maintaining a positive culture.

I had this experience at our global management conference last week. Once a year, the heads of each region and function come together to review the previous year and strategize for the next. There is much laughing and sharing, alongside the serious discussions about the health, direction and future of our business.

During her presentation, our HR Manager put up this slide:

How awesome is this?

%

Current employees that have been with us for at least

5 years

%

Current employees that have been with us for at least

8 years

%

Current employees that have been with us for at least

14 years

For a medium-sized technology company, I think this is an amazing achievement. Especially when you consider that staff who were employed in the early 2000s, joined what was essentially a startup and have spent most of their working life at Striata. It is inspiring that so many have continued to be challenged, yet remained loyal through the growth phases, to what is now a medium sized, globally established business.

Work anniversaries are not the only indicator worth noting. We also like to celebrate:

  • Internal referrals – a happy employee referring a friend or colleague for a position
  • Inter-company relocations – helping to make a family’s dream come true
  • Boomerangs – welcoming back previous employees
  • Personal milestones – engagements, weddings and babies

Keeping our company culture on track

As a company, we are very careful about preserving our culture. We don’t expect new hires to deduce our work ethic or build their own impression of our culture – we tell them upfront how the organization operates and invite them to embrace our values. To do this, our ‘newbies’ go through a two-week Welcome Academy in which they are introduced to key people, concepts and what we call the ‘10 Values that make us Awesome’ (view the eBook here).

We also assign each newbie a Welcome Genie for 6 weeks. This is someone outside their immediate reporting line that is available to answer questions, make introductions and provide information that is not part of formal job training. A Welcome Genie is always someone that has embraced our core values and can help a new person settle into our particular culture.

Our recognition programs are designed to reinforce the desired company culture. We celebrate specific behaviors and acknowledge achievements in a way that speaks directly to our values. Culture is a living thing, so periodically we invite staff to provide feedback on our company values and to suggest changes or new concepts they feel should be applied.

We are also very careful about who we hire. Candidates are assessed for their ability to do the job, but the most important factor in the hiring process is cultural fit. Skills can be taught; culture fit is either there or it isn’t.

On the flip side, being so firm about culture and work ethic can cause discomfort and result in resignations in the first year. These hurt because you’ve invested so much into welcoming, training, coaching and encouraging that person and just at the point where they start to deliver value – they leave. But as disappointing as this is, it’s better to ‘rip the plaster off’ than have a misfit sticking around and undermining the culture.

The way to improve your hit rate on hiring people that fit, is to constantly evolve your interview and assessment process, so that you recognize the right, or wrong, values before you proceed to hire, induct and train. It also means the first 3 – 6 months of a person’s employment are of vital importance – make the first impression a great one, and the lasting impression even better.

Alison Treadaway

Alison Treadaway

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

Alison Treadaway is the ​Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Striata. She joined Striata in 2002 and served as managing director of the African region for 13 years. Prior to this, her experience in Internet-related solutions included marketing and sales positions at Internet Solutions and Dimension Data. Her professional certifications and licenses include a Bachelor of Arts (English, German, WITS) and a Post-graduate Diploma in Business Administration (WITS Business School).

Read more of Alison's blog posts here or connect with her on the following social channels: