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15 company culture ideas: The best, worst and the quirkiest we’ve seen!

Indhuja Lal

Last Updated:  

26 March 2019

10 min read

When you see a child running rampant through the supermarket or see a person who is not essentially kind and helpful, what would be your remark on that? Of course, you shouldn’t judge anyone, let alone the unfortunately tired and tied-up parents, but wouldn’t it cross your minds all the same? That they are ‘not brought up well’? You do not put the whole blame on the individual who did whatever that was not appreciable, but on his or her upbringing too.

When your employee snarks at your customer or is not generally positive, do you think the blame is on your employee alone? No! Employees are your company’s advocates. Customers identify your company with the employees they happen to get in contact with, making it your most important touch-point.

The best employees don’t just happen. You need time, attention and proper nourishment to transform an indifferent employee into a passionate and truly happy employee. Employee churn has been the highest in ten years, and only 15% of the total employees has been revealed to be engaged in their jobs. Employee turnovers are expensive. From dirty office politics to overbearing managers, the reasons are wide and varied. Most of the reasons for migration can be resolved with an effective feedback system. And your aim should be to retain as many employees as you can. Most of the businesses and companies worldwide fail to acknowledge the fact that their employees are more important while they are chasing the customers. Understand that the growth and strength come within. Those who don’t, surely end up paying a heavy price for their ignorance. United Airlines is a glaring example since it all came crashing down just because of the rude and uncooperative attitude of their employees.

The best employees don’t just happen. Time, attention, and proper nourishment make a truly happy employee.

Hence It’s more important than ever to improve and cultivate a healthy culture in your company, with 83% of the HR managers claiming employee turnover to be a major influential factor in the future of your company new and improved company culture ideas have become the new hot topic and rightly so. Every firm and business is in the search of the aptest company culture ideas for their company and also the ones they need to weed out. Let us discuss 15 company culture ideas: The best, worst and weirdest we’ve seen to help you design or adapt yours.

The Best Company Culture Ideas

1. Zappos

Zappos would definitely make the list both in the best and weirdest. No matter what your position is – an accountant, software developer, web-designer, you are put in the exact same training program for the call representatives. It is a four-week program followed with two weeks training on the phone, where they would be dealing with real customer calls. After the first week, the entire class is offered 2000 dollars for quitting. Tony Hsieh, Founder, and CEO wants employees who can embody the core value of service-mindedness. Weeding out the people that focus too much on money helps the company to nurture and develop amazing employee engagement rate. From coworker bonus program to apprenticeships within the company, Zappos has really nailed the game.

2. Dropbox

This company is all about freedom and creativity. Innovation is considered to be a key imperative yet many a time, it is treated as something that happens through top-down investment and research. The true possibilities of innovation come to light only when everyone in the organization acts upon the opportunities they come across. Dropbox has definitely made the list with their policy “you’re smart, figure it out”. They encourage their employees to do things that go beyond their job description. Innovative company culture ideas are quintessential to ensure high employee engagement. An annual program called “Hack Week” is one such step to nourish a healthy company culture that stands by their principle. It is conducted over a period of five days where the employees are divided into teams asked to work on a project of their choice. The best projects are submitted to the C-suite and discussed. They claim that half of Dropbox’s innovations took birth in these Hack Weeks. It guarantees the employees that they are making a change and builds a very positive relationship with the company.


3. Twitter

Twitter has nourished a culture of learning in their company. They believe that an employee should feel like they know a lot more than they did at the beginning of the week. To make this whole training and learning process enjoyable, they have set up Twitter University. They are running hundreds of sessions for their employees now. Like Dropbox, Twitter too conducts a Hack Week. This lets the employees put together crazy ideas they have for Twitter. According to Krikorian, the Vice President for platform engineering says that Hack Week is about letting the employees “go wild”.  To find what resonates most with the employees’ twitter leverages their well-established feedback systems. This helps them to come up with creative and apt strategies. With GrowTogether strategy that was launched in 2017, Twitter has decided to encourage diversity and deeper interactions across the organization.

4. Patagonia

Patagonia promotes company culture ideas that are deeply rooted in trust and reliability. They believe that their employees should have a solid trust in the products they sell. From 1973, when the company started “let my people go surfing” has been their policy. This policy privileges their employees to go for surfing or any other outdoor activities, even if it is during office hours. With a daily surf report and stock of Patagonia towels, the company really do encourage the employees to get outdoorsy. This practice not only helps to refresh the mind of employees but also reinforce the faith of employees in the products that Patagonia sells. Testing out the apparel they sell daily fosters a strong belief in the company and this confidence would definitely come across to the customers.

 Many offices around the world are getting a makeover from the utilitarian furniture and sober décor.

5. Twilio

This company definitely tops the list when you take companies that have made innovation to be their company culture idea. The new hires are expected to develop and present an app built on their API. These demonstrations usually happen almost every Wednesday. Interesting and funny products such as Twilio Latrine, which apparently helps you to check if the Twilio bathrooms were occupied without ever leaving the desk and saves the disappointment. Many employees turn their head away from the startups in fear of working overtime and immense pressure to meet deadlines with limited staff and money.

From offering unlimited personal time off to Hack fests, the company ensures that their employees are not exhausted and they are having adequate peacetime. This is again an excellent company culture idea that you can adopt

The Worst Company Culture Ideas

One might think that none can get it wrong. How hard is it? Encourage a healthy and productive environment for your employees to work. Isn’t that what every business wants? A strong workforce? Yes!

But many companies manage to ignore the necessities of employees altogether. Now we will go through such 5 companies that have successfully annoyed their employees and has implemented the worst company culture ideas one could think of.

1. Amazon

‘Kill or Be Killed’ is not a healthy company culture idea to promote. 

Amazon has fostered a negative reputation when it comes to ‘happy employees’ over the years. A 2015 article of New York Times said the company’s work culture is ‘bruising’. The company’s culture ideas have hence been improved and it has put most of the accusations behind, though not all. The employees blame the company culture idea in gist is similar to Hunger Games. ‘Kill or Be Killed’ is not a healthy company culture idea to promote. With its dog-friendly offices and upbeat posters, Amazon campus looks similar to other tech giants. When Google and Facebook try to engage their employees with gyms and benefits like cash handouts for new parents,  Amazon compensation is considered competitive. The travel expenses are expected to be taken care of by the employees. Consistent focus is given to pleasing the customers alone. Over 440 reviews on Glassdoor are complaints of extremely long hours and horrible workload.

2. Family Dollar Stores

The nearly ubiquitous firm with 8,042 stores across the US, Family Dollar Stores is ranked as one of the worst companies to work for. With tight budgets, even the managers have to work overtime to cover the extended hours of the store. Unqualified managers and horrible work-life balance have been cited as the villain in many reviews. When the CEO Gary Philbin has only a 36% approval rate and  38% of the employees would recommend the company to a friend, the company culture ideas of the firm gets a red flag.

3. Sprouts Farmers Market

Trust in management is a significant influence when it comes to employee satisfaction. Hence it is quintessential to ensure that the employees have faith in their managers. It is one of the best company culture idea to have and this is where Sprouts Farmers Market missed their target. Many of the reviews in Glassdoor blames the managers as the negative factor in their experience with the firm. Out of 27000+ employees, only 37% approves of their CEO while the rest considers their management as immature.

Trust in management is a significant influence when it comes to employee satisfaction.

4. Conduent

Even a Fortune 500 company has not managed to escape this list. The stock value of the company decreased because of the rating given by the employees. The reviews blame the inefficient management as well as the environment provided. The design and vibe provided to the workspace play crucial factor while forming the judgment about the company. Many companies go for over-the-top strategies to keep the workspace more inspiring to their employees. It is the place where they spend more than half a day and you get an opportunity to subtly develop a creative company culture.

5. Cadbury

Not listening to your employees is the worst company culture idea ever. Listening to your employees and making them feel like they are capable of contributing much to the welfare of the company is a must in every institution that wishes to thrive. Krafts’ takeover affected the company deeply and they haven’t still found their step. The employees were constantly protesting against the merger of the company and now they are facing strikes and negative employee engagement. The employees are under severe pressure and fear of losing jobs. What they now have is a workforce that has lost their trust in the company. The best of them are trying to jump the ship before they are forced to go.

The Quirkiest Company Culture Ideas

1. Treehouse

Ryan Carson, CEO at Treehouse doesn’t want his employees to be ‘burned out’. Coming from a startup workspace in the past, Ryan believes that he was unable to give his maximum productivity as he was relentlessly engaged…This inspired him to improve his employees’ productivity by not overworking them. He says it pays off in the long run. The employees have to work only four days a week.  This does not mean that his employees get to slack off. They have to work and input their maximum effort and then enjoy the extra long weekend in contentment and refreshing.

2. Airbnb

You cannot go further down the list before mentioning Airbnb. This company believes that company culture is everything, and that, if the company culture ideas adhere to the companies core values, then this will be reflected throughout the organization. When the company was designing its headquarters in San Francisco, they invited the interior designers to observe their employees and the office space for four months. The collaborative workspace is designed to inspire the employees to do more.

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, One of their hosts opened up her home for anyone who was stranded. This inspired many others and in the end,1440 hosts gave shelter to the temporarily displaced.

Cutting the paychecks or micromanaging is not going to motivate your employees.

3. Netflix

“If I told you I were leaving, how hard would you work to change my mind?”

This a question that Netflix encourages its employees to ask the managers. This gives their employees a hunger to improve which is much needed to manage their high demanding environment.

Netflix is a company that values freedom, pays well and trusts their employees. From a no-questions-asked expense policy to one-year maternity leave, the employees are in love with the company. The company culture ideas that you could adopt from is plenty in this company. Surprisingly they don’t have any, traditional yearly performance reviews. However, they keep only the best employees. They are pro at generating severance packages with respect. And that itself makes a whole lot of difference.

4. King

When you say office, the utilitarian furniture and a sober décor come to our mind. Well, not every office is ready to fall under the same list. Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Google, the list goes on. The Stockholm office for King, the company behind Candy Crush games, takes one more step further by designing the entire office as “kingdom”. The massive space is divided into different zones with the help of themes from different games of King. It is an office that truly reflects the company that King is. It is colorful and energy filled, and you see magic and fun around you. The firm wanted to inspire and promote creativity and freedom of imagination through its environment. You could sit and work either laid back to a comfy rock or in fabric grass. You have an interactive river stream that is pre-programmed to respond, connecting these different zones. The company has turned the entire office into a forest to cater to creativity.

5. Disney World

Last but not least, Disney World, the land of dreams. For starters, from ride operators to costumed Disney characters, all their employees are referred to as  “Cast members” and the terms “onstage” and “offstage” doesn’t just apply to the performers. It is a place where the magic really happens and guest experience is the core of the company. The employees are expected to carry out strange tasks to keep up the show magical. You cant walk around the park, you have hidden tunnels beneath the park for that. If you are hired as a costumed character, you are expected to maintain the role all the time. For example, if you are Cinderella and if a guest requests to take a selfie or a picture, you should be asking “what is a camera?”, because Cinderella wouldn’t know about cameras or selfies. Moreover, you cannot reveal about your job in your social accounts. It is a strict no-no. How could a Disney princess be in Snapchat? It would ruin the whole picture, wouldn’t it?

Not listening to your employees is the worst company culture idea ever. 

Wrapping Up!

Developing a company culture idea that would make your employees never leave is not an easy task. But the results are sweeter than ever. This list portrays companies that were trying to do the maximum and the minimum and out-of-the-world efforts towards the satisfaction for their companies. It would only be successful if you decide to cover the whole aspect. Just a cool office or a no-manager policy is not enough. You should be trying to find the momentum of your employees at all times so that you grasp what is lacking in them to make it perfect. Cutting the paychecks or micromanaging is not going to motivate your employees. Conduct employee engagement surveys as often as you could, show them that you are listening and that you value them. Sometimes, all they need is that.

Indhuja Lal

Product Marketer at SurveySparrow

A dilettante bohemian soul mesmerized with the magic of words, sworn to be unpredictable, and spellbound with the simplicity of humanity...

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