Culture doesn’t equal employee perks

A good one doesn’t always follow ‘the rules,’ either.

At Kasasa (formerly BancVue), we have a pretty employee-centric office. There’s a big snack bar, stocked fridge, pool table, foosball, massage chair, video games and no real dress code. Sometimes people visiting will see this and say, “Man, it looks like you guys have a great culture.” When I hear that, I always have to suppress giving that person a lecture about what culture really is. None of that stuff has anything to do with real culture!

The idea of “corporate culture” has been mixed with the notion of “employee perks.” They are in no way synonyms. Perks are awesome ways to attract, retain, and reward employees. You can have all the company-funded lunches, parties, and fun breakroom toys you want and still not have a real, effective culture. Conversely, you can be so budget-strapped that your employees have to bring their own coffee to work and still have a powerful culture that drives your business.

So what exactly is culture and why is it useful?

Culture governs the way your employees will handle millions of critical human interactions. Once deeply embedded in the organization, culture becomes like a conscience that tells employees which way to go when the rules don’t suggest a clear path. By having a strong culture in place, your employees will know intuitively what the right response is without having to look it up in the employee manual.

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