There are many ways to positively impact your culture, but – pardon the marketing cliché – one size definitely does not fit all. However, despite some different approaches, there are commonalities, including a major one: people. How an organization treats, considers, and supports its people is at the core of most (if not all) of these examples when it comes to establishing and maintaining strong and lasting culture.
The video conferencing technology company (a platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars) is certainly a mainstay on the “big lists” for its culture, and for good reason: their focus on people. The company has a reputation for caring about its people on a deep, personal basis. For example, Zoom encourages employees to bring loved ones to work so teammates and colleagues can meet the people behind the scenes of their working lives, the people they’re inspired by, and who they’re working for.
CEO Eric Yuan describes the Zoom mission this way: deliver happiness. The company even has a “happiness crew.” Zoom’s happiness crew focuses on – you guessed it – what it takes to maintain a sense of happiness in the culture as the company grows. Volunteer opportunities, training sessions, mentorship pairing, consistent recognition opportunities – all these things are secondary to the main question: what will make you happy?
On a special note, Zoom made headlines for its generosity during a time of crisis. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom announced free licenses of Zoom for K-12 educators. It was a forward-thinking and community-minded act during a time of need, and one that would make life harder for the Zoom team. But it was the right thing to do.
Zoom’s cultural values shined through in this action. It was a source of pride to those within the organization, and something those without could admire. The takeaway: if you can give something back for free, do it.
When it comes to Patagonia, it’s hard to know where to begin. They seem to be in the vanguard of every cultural flashpoint and movement, taking the bold stances rarely seen from companies with influence and prestige.
We’re in business to save the planet.
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia founder
It’s the theme of Patagonia’s business practices, like its responsible sourcing and progressive business practices, and it pervades the culture. When a company demonstrates, in a very public way, that profits, tax breaks, and the bottom line aren’t always top of mind, the result is a steely loyalty – from employees and customers alike – creating a virtuous circle.
Patagonia’s core values, like doing as little harm to the environment as possible and always taking the long-term view, aren’t just expressed but practiced at Patagonia. The talk, in other words, is walked. That goes a long way with people. Not to mention the fact that they’ve always offered certain benefits, long before current trends. Things like flexible working hours (i.e. the famous “Let my people go surfing”), good work-life balance, and time off to pursue passion projects have all been standard for years. What’s the secret? Support your people, and give them something to believe in.