When used well, a healthy and thoughtful company culture can be the thing that helps finally catapult your brand into a success all its own. To help you pinpoint the trends that work—and the ones that don’t—here are some of the best company cultures you'll find. Pay attention to what techniques each company uses to emphasize their culture and use them to help inspire your own.
Creating a positive company culture is one of the best things you can do for your business. When your employees work in an environment with a clear, positive, and productive culture, then they’ll be better motivated, more creative, and fully committed to helping your brand become the best version of itself it can be.
While every company’s culture is unique, there’s still value to be found in observing others and seeing how their methods can help you find your own unique brand of success. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best company cultures out there right now:
Despite being one of the most profitable companies out there right now, Netflix still sports one of the best company cultures (that's also one of the most talked about). The streaming company employs around six-thousand people, and yet has still found a way to ensure that they consistently rank among the very best companies to work for.
A large factor in Netflix’s success in this regard comes from its approach to employee expectations and evaluations. Rather than closely monitoring their staff’s productivity and hours, Netflix has abandoned formal performance reviews cross-departmental meetings. It’s their belief that these meetings and reviews were too infrequent and surface-level to bring about meaningful results.
Instead, Netflix has implemented consistent and informal 360-degree reviews where honesty is valued, no one is anonymous, and self-development is prioritized over formal development programs. Netflix has developed one of the best company cultures because they've built it not on the idea of control, but rather, on employee’s living up to the contextual expectations they’re given.
What this model does is allow for the individual to thrive in ways that work best for them. Things like a formal vacation policy simply don’t exist at Netflix; instead, salaried employees are asked to act in the company’s best interests but are still given the freedom to take time off whenever they feel it’s needed. This level of trust in its employees have not only saved Netflix money, but it’s helped them hold onto a high employee retention rate that keeps them moving, engaged, and enthusiastic about the work they’re doing.
Zappos is another company that’s renowned for being one of the best company cultures of all time, which is appropriate, considering how seriously the company takes its culture. For Zappos—an online clothing and shoe retailer—reinforcing their carefully curated culture is paramount, and deciding whether someone would be a good fit into the existing culture makes up about 50% of the reasoning behind hiring—or not hiring—someone.
Taking it one step further, new employees are even offered $2,000 if they quit within the first week of starting. This acts as an incentive for people who aren’t a good fit for the company to move on with no hard feelings.
This may sound extreme, but Zappos places such a heavy emphasis on their company culture that going the extra mile in this way is something they have found real success in. All of the resources and attention Zappos devotes to their company culture is at least partially responsible for their low turnover rate, which means that something they’re doing seems to be working.
Jamie Naughton, Zappos’ Chief of Staff, told Forbes in an interview that a company’s values shouldn’t “become a dusty plaque on a wall, somewhere near the front desk.” It’s this kind of conscious, active commitment to a company culture that has helped Zappos retain so many employees and provide them with a work environment they want to keep coming back to.
Company culture is not a buzzword, gimmick, or fleeting trend; it’s the living, breathing heart of a company. Few companies seem to understand this better than Warby Parker, an American online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses.
For Warby Parker, culture is so important that they have an entire team committed to promoting and facilitating the company’s cultural mindset. This “culture” team makes sure that there is always a fun event or company outing to look forward to on the calendar, and it’s their job to brainstorm, plan, and execute these events.
The culture team will even send random groups of employees out to lunch together as part of their ongoing efforts to encourage familiarity and collaboration across departments. For Warby Parker, a healthy company culture is all about creating a culture that values and supports teamwork, relationships, and fun, and their approach certainly seems to have struck a chord with its staff.
For a company that emphasizes user creativity, it seems only appropriate that Adobe also emphasizes creativity in its company culture. Adobe expresses a level of trust and flexibility that is rarely seen in most large-scale corporations, and they’ve done this by entirely doing away with employee ratings—believing them to inhibit employee creativity and collaboration.
Instead of a traditional hierarchy of employees, Adobe has its “managers” take on a role that has more in common with a “coach” than a traditional manager. This approach avoids anything resembling micromanagement and instead lets each individual employee set their own goals and decide how they should be assessed in their pursuit of those goals.
This may sound like a risky approach to company culture, but Adobe doesn’t give out this level of trust and flexibility blindly. Adobe sets high expectations for their employees, but with those expectations comes the trust, support, and resources employees need to meet and exceed those expectations. It’s an effective system that rewards experimentation, encourages self-motivation, and examples the kind of productive culture that every company should strive for.
HubSpot’s modern sensibilities and emphasis on employee flexibility have made it a popular work environment for its employees, leading it to regularly rank highly on lists of the “best places to work.”
Like a lot of the companies on this list, HubSpot’s company culture is just as important as the products they release. One of the very first things you’ll find in the HubSpot culture code is the line “Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.” HubSpot intimately understands that exceptional products are made by exceptional employees, and you can’t have one without the other.
One of the many keys to HubSpot’s cultural success is its transparency. Employees are included in everything from financials, board meeting notes and updates, changes in strategy plans, and more. Anything that can be shared with employees is, with the exception of things that are covered by a non-disclosure agreement, of course.
This level of transparency and inclusion helps empower everyone to have a voice and ensures that no one is left out of the loop. HubSpot is a company, but it’s also a community. This is something that Katie Burke, HubSpot's chief people officer, explained to Business Insider as being about giving people a clear direction and end goal, without prescribing an exact path of getting there.
It’s this kind of trust and adaptability that makes HubSpot’s company culture one of the best. They emphasize empathy and a willingness to learn, and in doing so have created a company culture that continues to grow and thrive.
No list of "best company cultures" would be complete without Google, which was one of the first companies to really push the idea of “company culture” into the mainstream. Google routinely ranks highly on annual “best companies to work for” lists, and like all of the companies it has inspired, there’s a very good reason for that.
Google provides its employees with everything from free meals to staff trips to financial bonuses to even a dog-friendly work environment. Google’s culture is an adaptable and supportive entity that produces employees who are driven, talented, and regularly seen as being some of the very best in the industry.
Considering how rapidly Google has grown, and how large and diverse its enterprise is now, it’s an impressive feat that the company has still been able to sustain much of the culture that helped it achieve its initial success. There are growing pains, to be sure, and just like an article by Entrepreneur says, “the larger a company becomes, the more that culture has to reinvent itself to accommodate more employees and the need for management.”
However, Google’s message to its employees remains simple and effective: “we’ll take care of you while you take care of work.” Google values the hard work of its employees, and even as the company becomes more and more of an industry juggernaut, its devotion to a productive, yet evolving, company culture sets a promising precedent for other companies.
Creating a Culture
Every company is different, and there’s no easy guideline to help you find the best company culture for your company and its employees. The best you can do is educate yourself on what has worked for those who have come before you, and then use that information to help inform your own developing culture.
Communicate with people inside and outside of your company, accept feedback, and stay consistent in your efforts. The more committed you are to creating a company culture of your own, the more your employees will follow suit and play an active role in producing an environment that will make everyone's lives easier.