Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Many organizations struggle to create a memorable and magnetic workplace culture, and it’s no wonder. Culture is tricky to define, and takes time and effort to build.
Michael Watkins defines organizational culture as a moving target made up of the patterns of behavior; shared process of “sense-making”; and the stories, values and rituals that take hold within organizations.
One thing is clear: strong organizational culture is a powerful talent attractor. It can win you access to the best talent in your industry and be the glue that retains top employees amid fierce competition. So how can you turn your culture into one of your strongest assets? Let’s look at three businesses whose organizational cultures have earned them distinction in their industries, along with the admiration of their employees.
Publix supports employees with ownership and growth opportunities
Florida-based grocery chain Publix Super Markets is the largest employee-owned company in the United States with over 184,000 employees (whom they call associates) and profit margins that surpass those of Wal-Mart, Kroger and Whole Foods. The company’s employee-centric culture has resulted in a voluntary turnover rate of just 5% among full-time employees.
All full and part-time employees averaging 20 hours per week receive company stock in their ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) after a year of service and additional stock each year, giving employees a stake in the company’s success. The Publix management style emphasizes communication and transparency. Employees have regular reviews for performance feedback and are eligible for salary increases every six months.
The Publix career site is packed with resources, like the job match system shown below, to help job seekers and current employees find the Publix career path that’s right for them. The company strives to promote from within, and encourages employees to pursue opportunities that align with their goals. Publix also provides employees with information to learn about career opportunities and tools to express their interest in different roles. Publix’s CEO & President, Todd Jones, began his career at Publix as a part-time bagger.
“I believe in Publix and what we have to offer, from the products we carry to making sure Publix is a great place to work. What really makes the difference is our associates being owners of our company,” Jones said. “I believe we will always be a great place to work, in part, because of this ownership. It’s part of our culture and part of our focus on associates being our greatest asset.”
Southwest Airlines hires service-minded, fun-loving individuals
Southwest Airlines began flying with just four planes in 1971, and has grown to employ more than 52,000. Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The company has been profitable for 43 consecutive years, and…