The Best Ingredients for Creating and Preserving Culture

In last week’s Future of Work in a Connected World blog post, we discussed how to attain and retain top talent.

This week, we are shifting our focus to culture. Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner party or a huge holiday extravaganza, one thing is certain: no matter the size of your home, the quality of the décor or even if you’ve somehow managed to book Beyoncé to perform poolside, all of your guests will eventually congregate in the kitchen. That’s probably no surprise since, around the world, food and culture are so intertwined the two are nearly inseparable. Perhaps that’s also why many organizations are designing their own corporate cultures with the kitchen in mind.

A kitchen is at the center of Jive’s new San Francisco office workspace

“So many of our work environments now look like the kitchen or the café,” says Francine Katsoudas, Chief People Officer at Cisco Systems

“So many of our work environments now look like the kitchen or the café,” says Francine Katsoudas, the Chief People Officer at Cisco Systems. But, according to some of the top HR professionals in tech, the environment is only one of the ingredients companies use to cook up a culture that engages and motivates employees. Culture was a hot topic at a recent Jive panel event that took place at HanaHaus in Palo Alto. The event, Evolving Workstyles: The Future of Work in a Connected World, featured an esteemed panel that included the Chief People and HR Officers from Cisco, LinkedIn, Pandora, NetSuite and Jive Software, as well as the VP of IT and Security at SugarCRM.

“That physical space is a manifestation of your culture, your purpose,” says Pandora CHRO, Kristen Robinson. But there’s more to culture than cleverly-named conference rooms and stainless steel appliances in the breakroom, she says. “We’re all about music. So, in our work environment we do a lot of playing music in the open spaces.” She notes that an even bigger motivator for her Millennial workforce may be purpose. That jibes with a recent Deloitte survey, which found that 87% of Millennial workers believe “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.” “I actually think all people want to be tied to a purpose,” says Robinson.

“That physical space is a manifestation of your culture, your purpose,” says Pandora CHRO, Kristen Robinson

Kathy Zwickert, the Chief People Officer at NetSuite believes there’s another element to culture: storytelling. “We’re tracking well below the industry standards right now for turnover, and I attribute a lot of that [to] the tone from the top,” she says. Zwickert gives much of the credit for NetSuite’s success to founder, Evan Goldberg, who’s “still there walking the halls every day—and has been for 17 years.” She notes that employees #3 and #5 are still with the company as well. “And they stay and they tell the story and they connect. And it permeates the culture for even the new people coming on.”

Ultimately, the combination of the panelists’ strategies in developing their own company’s cultures are the very definition of culture itself. They’re the hero’s journey—stories of people taking on a purpose greater than themselves, handed down from generation to generation in kitchens throughout the world, often accompanied by that place’s own distinctive music. If that music happens to be Beyoncé, all the better. To learn how all of the panelists are creating irresistible cultures in their companies, as well as several other topics related to the Future of Work, watch the video below.

Stay tuned next week for the final installment of the Future of Work in a Connected World blog series, where we’ll look at how employee choice shapes and impacts companies.

 

“Five years from now, it’s not going to matter where you hire the talent,” says NetSuite Chief People Officer Kathy Zwickert

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