Put Some Heart And Soul Into Your Culture

June 07, 2015 / TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED

Put Some Heart And Soul Into Your Culture

June 07, 2015

Jean-François Marti CEO and Founder, Nealite

Jean-François Marti is the founder of Nealite, a Paris based innovation and design agency, now part of PwC. He teaches Design Thinking at Sciences Po Paris.

Apply focus to your company’s culture and you’ll positively impact productivity and financial performance while building a stronger brand.

Great companies are serious about culture—not only through philanthropic acts, but because they understand that deep human connections generate more business, not the other way around. A company’s culture should win the hearts and minds of its employees, customers, and partners. Its uniqueness should be meaningful, impactful and connect deeply with each person.

Today, developing a company culture is a leader’s most important role. A recent study states, “Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.” Indeed, Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch, but a reported “64% of employees do not feel they have a strong work culture.” -2014 TINYpulse Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report.

Clearly, culture has become a huge proponent of a company’s competitive advantage. In my experience there is no recipe for a good culture, however there are uncommon ways to put more meaning, heart and soul into it:

1. Translate your company culture into words people can relate to
A careful choice of words is critical. Find the right words, the words you believe describe your brand’s unique personality and reassure the people working within them that they are doing the right thing. Consider Spotify, the music streaming service. This Swedish company translates its obsession with autonomy among its employees by stating, "If you need to know exactly who is making decisions, then you're in the wrong place.”


Michel et Augustin expresses its brand’s relentless quest for talent by asking future employees to meet the usual qualities (passion, brilliance and enthusiasm) plus something more unusual: being a "trouble maker". The company is looking for disruptors to make sure employees align with its culture of constantly renewing the company and its market.

2. Hire a Chief Culture Officer
Putting an individual responsible for culture shows dedication and nurtures an inclusive environment, aligning organizational stability and improving internal communication. The CCO ensures that in the face of difficult decisions, there’s an officiate to make certain that each decision is aligned with the company’s values.

Wharton Professor, Alex Edmans, found that companies on Fortune magazine’s annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work for in America returned 14% per year on their stock compared to 6% of the overall market. A company’s culture nourishes its brand and builds a strong foundation for a sustainable future—unreliant on external factors.

3. Give employees unique opportunities to learn and grow
Your brand is defined not only by what you produce, but also by the people working for you. Show your people some love. Allow them opportunities to take time—inside and outside of work—to explore creative projects, visit a museum that inspires them or attend a Creative Mornings session. Encourage them to take an extended learning class (even if it means leaving work early). Offer employees support around their individual endeavors. It goes a long way.

It’s clear that a strong company culture positively impacts productivity and financial performance. But perhaps more importantly, it fuels your people, your message and your reason for being. Put some heart and soul into your culture.

Jean-François Marti CEO and Founder, Nealite

Jean-François Marti is the founder of Nealite, a Paris based innovation and design agency, now part of PwC. He teaches Design Thinking at Sciences Po Paris.

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