10 Steps To Creating a Company Culture That Works

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on October 20, 2017

Earlier this month during the annual SHIFT conference hosted by Zenefits, Arianna Huffington gave a heartwarming talk about the true power of culture, and why it should be our very first priority when running a business, not stuffed somewhere in the middle. She highlights the importance of retaining and delighting top talent, and how your company will grow leaps and bounds by focusing on this one aspect of your business. Here are her top 10 rules for creating a culture that works.

Arianna is a known advocate of the importance of a supportive business environment can have on employees and an organization. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet, and in 2012 she won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She recently stepped down from her role as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and now focuses time on her online startup, Thrive Global

The idea of what it takes to cultivate a strong company culture has been floating around for a few years, yet many aren’t quite sure how to obtain this elusive key to a supportive workplace environment. Many organizations have been praised for their seemingly perfect culture’s (like Southwest Airlines and Warby Parker), but not as many truly understand what makes a work environment attractive. 

“It all starts with your people.” SHIFT Conference

Developing a place where your workforce feels comfortable and productive, where they’re actively engaged – takes much more than the perks often talked about like free food and nap rooms. Your company culture shows where you as an organization place the value of your workforce. In other words, it shows how much (or how little) you care about them. As an expert in creating a supportive, sought after working environment, here are Arianna’s top ten rules for creating an effective company culture that fosters collaboration and a healthy working team.

1. End the Delusion That Burnout = Success

  • As leaders, we need to remember that human beings are not machines.
  • As a whole companies and teams should stop the celebration of the “all-nighter”, and recognize when it’s time to stop working.
  • The scientific connection between rest and performance is without question.

2. The “Growth is Above All” Theory is Wrong GettyImages-501787262.jpg

  • As a company, you must take care of your employees first, before anything else.
  • Companies should be nurturing talent above nurturing their bottom lines.
  • Your mindset as a leader must be to develop them before developing your product.

3. No “Brilliant Jerks” Allowed

  • The top performer at a company is often idolized for the revenue they bring in, and their bad behavior is tolerated.
  • These types of employees are toxic to your company culture and will affect who is hired and who ends up leaving your organization.

4. Build Teams that Work

  • In today’s modern economy, every company is now a 24-hour company and is “always on”.
  • You should build a community surrounding learning, collaboration and empathy to support this environment.
  • Try offering entry-interviews to find out what employees hold sacred (ex: taking their kids to school = no routine early meetings).
  • Unless you ask your team, you may never know what’s important to them.

5. Treat Culture Like an Immune System 

  • Toxic people in your organization won’t be able to affect the culture if it is strong, they won’t be allowed to contaminate the entire group.
  • Don’t be afraid to remind people when they do something that doesn’t align with your workplace, to avoid it catching on.

6. Make the Culture Strong for Everyone (not just one group)

  • Current workplaces aren’t really designed to embrace every type of worker.
  • The little effort of offering private rooms for nursing mothers or quiet spaces for more introverted workers goes a long way for the experience your employees have.

7. Feed the Need for Purpose

  • It’s not enough to simply offer your employees good pay packages.
  • People, especially millennials, want to work for a company that benefits people’s lives in some way.
  • Strong talent won’t be motivated just to meet quota so they can give their boss a new Porsche.
  • Fine ways to promote the good your company is doing in the world, and make sure your employees feel like they are part of it.

8. Model Your Culture at the Top

  • The c-suite needs to model all of the behaviors you want your workforce to follow.
  • Our relationship with technology is a key indicator of how we prioritize our balance with work-life integration.
  • Although necessary, tech can be addictive, so it’s important to encourage disconnecting when employees aren’t working.
  • Expectations regarding technology and its use for work should be explained upfront to avoid confusion (ex: your team doesn’t need to respond to emails immediately except if there is an emergency).

9. Embrace Openness and Transparency

  • There is nothing like directness to help move a company forward.
  • When hiring for your team, be sure you’re looking for authentic people who speak their mind and want to do what’s right.
  • Learn from other company’s mistakes, like Google’s pay gap debacle, and be transparent with your workforce. The deserve your honesty.

10. Use Crisis as an Opportunity 

  • “Embrace a negative situation as opportunity to beam from the darkness.”
  • Take Uber’s recent letter to employees from their new CEO, they address recent errors and what the company is doing to fix them.
  • Brighter new beginnings come from those individuals who learn from the negative, not those who wallow in it.
  • There’s always room to learn and move forward- and if you hired the right people, they will support you along the way.

Want more from Arianna Huffington? Don’t miss her latest online publication, Thrive Global, a holistic blog featuring articles dedicated to exploring the modern workplace, the modern worker and how it all can fit into a balanced lifestyle. Learn more about Zenefits, the host of the annual SHIFT conference here.


Kaitlan Whitteberry

Kaitlan Whitteberry is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Missouri's journalism program, and currently focuses on iOFFICE press releases, software updates and related news.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5