Features Business Management
Building company culture

October 29, 2018  By Alyssa Dalton

At Kicking Horse Coffee in Invermere, B.C., new team members – affectionately known as ‘Green Beans’ – are set up with a different lunch buddy every day of their first week so they can connect with different colleagues.

Toronto, Ontario-based marketing solutions company Klick turns the Klick Café into a charity tavern every Friday at 4:30 p.m. where beer, wine and snacks are provided by partners and Klicksters “give what they can” to charity.

Meanwhile at every five-year anniversary milestone, Axis Communications in Mississauga, Ont., offers its full-time regular employees a three-week paid sabbatical and $2,000 to spend during the time away from work.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first,” advises Simon Sinek, author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant. While company culture is instilled and driven through leadership, employee support and confidence is critical in maintaining a successful culture.

“By setting the mission of an organization and empowering employees to achieve that mission, leadership builds the foundation of company culture — and plays an important role in changing it when it needs to be changed,” writes Sarah Greesonbach, CultureIQ writer, in the article, Importance of Leadership in Changing Organizational Culture.

The first step to building your company culture? “Determine what behaviours and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviours and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture,” says Brittany Forsyth, VP Human Relations at Shopify.

Released in June, the 17th annual Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada by Corporate Knights ranking includes Canfor, Cascades, Kruger Products and Transcontinental, among others. On average the Best 50 Corporate Citizens had significantly more female leaders and generous pensions, lower employee turnover, earned a higher percentage of their revenue from clean sources, used a higher percentage of renewable energy, and had a much smaller gap between CEO pay and average worker pay than their large Canadian peers, Corporate Knights says.

Quebec-based Transcontinental took the 29th spot, while the forestry and paper products sector had a strong showing, with Kruger Products, Canfor and Cascades taking 40th, 46th and 48th respectively.

The methodology for the Best 50 Corporate Citizens is based on social and environmental performance as well as governance of Canadian companies found in the public domain. This year, Corporate Knights updated its weighting system from equal weight for each metric to a rules-based weighting guided by the relevance of each KPI for each industry, placing more emphasis on metrics that matter most for each industry.

Another well-known Canadian program that measures high-performance company cultures is the annual Best Workplaces in Canada list, compiled by Great Place to Work Institute Canada. The process is based on two criteria: Two-thirds of the total score comes from confidential employee survey results; the remaining one-third comes from an in-depth review of the organization’s culture, including an evaluation of HR policies and procedures. Designed to offer a representation of the organization from an employee perspective as well as an overall portrait of the workplace culture, the application process collects data relative to the five trust-building dimensions: credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie.

Kicking Horse Coffee, Klick and Axis Communications were all named on the 2018 list of Best Workplaces in Canada.

“Employees who trust their managers give their best work freely, and their extra effort goes right to the company’s bottom line. Managers who trust their employees allow innovative ideas to bubble up from all levels of the company. Employees who trust each other report a sense of camaraderie and even the feeling of being part of a family. Together, they deliver far more than the sum of their individual efforts,” Jen Wetherow, Director, Great Place to Work Institute Canada, says.

According to Bain & Company research, over a period of seven years, companies with more engaged workers grew revenue 2.5 times as much as companies with less engaged workers. This reinforces the Fast Company finding that happy employees are 12 percent more productive than their unhappy counterparts.

“Building workplace trust is the best investment an organization can make,” Wetherow continues. “Doing so leads to better recruitment, lower turnover, greater innovation, higher productivity, more loyal customers and higher profits. Around the world, companies with high-trust cultures deliver stronger results.” 

This editorial was originally published in the October 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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