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Culture is King

Culture is King

While working at a previous company back in the 1980’s, my human resource department floated a recommendation to the CEO about implementing a cafeteria-style employee benefit program where participants would be provided benefit dollars to spend on an array of health insurance options.  The benefit proposal seemed like a logical win-win for both the company and employees.

The CEO was known for his gruffness, temper and adversity to most anything people-related.  Showing his aggravated disapproval for the HR idea, he wrote across the recommendation using a red magic marker in big sweeping letters, “Why the hell do we need a cafeteria when we have two break rooms and a restaurant on the first floor!”

Needless to say, he didn’t really read the memo and we didn’t implement the cafeteria plan.  In fact, we didn’t implement much of anything that involved helping the employees enjoy their work experience; at least not until that CEO was out of the picture. Then improvements began on the people side of the business.  The personality of the CEO largely determines the climate of an organization.

Today, more than ever, I believe company culture is king and the CEO is the torch bearer and champion for building a great workplace.

Today, more than ever, I believe company culture is king and the CEO is the torch bearer and champion for building a great workplace. As a business leader, spending time on your company’s work environment is like money in the bank for all stakeholders in the long-run.  The creation of a great company culture trumps the richest of compensation or benefits programs.  When your culture is toxic, you may overspend on various incentives to tie people to their cubicles.  However, employees can tolerate a bad workplace for only so long, even if the company has the best dental plan money can buy.

Kevin Kennemer is founder of The People Group based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin is driven by his passion for company owners and their need to earn a profit, employees' desire for a positive and fulfilling work experience, and the community that benefits when both groups do well.

2 Comments

  1. Guy Farmer 7 years ago

    Great post Kevin. It’s amazing what can happen in a company if the people at the top realize they can create a more successful organization by treating their employees well. Sure we can make profits by wringing every last bit of effort and energy out of our people but we become so much healthier when we actually invest in their well-being and happiness. It also makes the leader’s job easier because happy people do more and better work.

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