Company culture goes beyond fun perks and snacks

There's an overwhelming agreement that culture impacts every corner of your business. 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.

But why is corporate culture so important?

We invited Marie Richter, VP of People at the Berlin startup Billie, to talk about company culture - not the foosball table and free lunches kind, but the kind where people work together in an aligned and purpose-driven way.

Take a listen ? and keep scrolling to read the highlights.

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Human Resources is the translator of potential

Previously Marie spent time at Google where she scaled operations across EMEA, and Soundcloud where she built their People Operations team, implementing the processes and programs to reach their hyper-growth targets.

Now she's heading the People Operations team at a young startup where there’s a high degree of autonomy and everyone can do their jobs to the best of their abilities, thanks to a high level of independence and enough resources available.

As Marie says, the best ideas come to her from different people and departments. She believes that HR professionals are the translators of all the great potential, as they simply connect the dots and create a unified idea that comes from different sides.

Investors understand the importance of culture now more than ever

Marie states that investors nowadays see the HR department differently than before. The main change is that HR is now one of the key departments they look at to determine the quality of the organization when they want to invest.

As she says, HR starts being necessary with as few as 10-15 employees, when a company needs the resources and expertise to hire the best people and establish structures.

In the end, having a good culture and people operations affects the bottom line and investors know it.

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Culture is about doing the work together

There is a big difference between hiring a person in HR and having a good culture in your company.

"HR is not a quick fix and just throwing a couple of benefits and fun perks together doesn’t make a culture."

Instead, culture is all about rolling up your sleeves and doing all the work together. The main people behind this force should be the founders and managers and everyone else ready to make the right decisions to keep the company going forward.

There’s more to Google’s approach to employee engagement than free food and bringing your pet into the office. It's mission, not the perks, that keeps the employees engaged and motivated.

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Culture is not bread and games

In the Roman empire, all you had to do to keep people in the big cities happy is to give them bread and games – basically, keeping them fed and entertained so that they'd be happy and distracted.

As Marie says, companies around the world are shifting the focus from "bread and games" to offering more than just compensation to keep their employees happy.

She mentions Google as the top example of a successful corporate culture. Google famously provides free breakfast, lunch and dinner for its employees, among other perks. However, the original intention was not to distract the employees with free meals, but rather to save the employees time and effort on commuting to and from the offices, and to facilitate new connections between employees, increasing their happiness in the workplace.

This investment in culture has paid off for Google, as they consistently rank among the best places to work. Other companies took notice and started copying it, but Marie says a lot of these companies started offering perks only because it worked for Google - and not because they intentionally cared about the employees' happiness.

In the end, companies need to ask themselves why they are giving benefits to their employees. If you don’t know why or if it's because other companies are doing it – don’t do it. Figure out what you want to achieve first, and come up with a better way of doing it.

For the full episode, head to our podcast page or wherever you listen to your podcast!

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