Whether you believe culture stems from the shared values and behaviors practiced by a company’s employees, or is shaped by the identity and beliefs of its founders and executive team, one thing is for sure: culture is about “feeling.”
It’s how you feel when you walk in the front door and interact with the people–there’s electricity in the air; it’s the vibe you get from being serviced in a unique way that makes you feel like royalty; it’s the mood and attitude that sets the tone for the workplace, which is in harmony with how its people feel in their heart-of-hearts.
It’s not something written in plaques on the wall, and it can’t be easily verbalized in intellectual discourse, for it would seem too nonsensical or “Disney-like.”
Yet, I’ll have you know, when leaders get it right, it’s like catching lightning in a bottle. It becomes one of the most treasured elements to transform the employee experience from one that drains and discourages, to one that energizes and empowers.
To dig deeper into the concept, what better way to do it than by asking successful company founders and thought-leaders–eighteen of them, in fact– their views on culture?
The Future of Company Cultures
Luckily, we can thank Nick Hastreiter of Future of Everything, for doing the groundwork already. In this outstanding collection of musings, he asked the movers and shakers, “What will company cultures look like in the future?” Many of the responses, you’ll note, suggest the future is already here. I found these to be the best quotes most relevant to the discussion from Hastreiter’s article.
Shawn Murphy, Co-founder of Switch & Shift
Best quote: “Companies will focus more on physical and psychological well-being–intrinsic needs. The external factors would be investing in nap pods, teaching mindfulness, assigning purpose-driven work to help employees develop. By linking external cultural manifestations to intrinsically held beliefs or needs, companies will build more resilient cultures that are less and less driven by fads and copy-cat culture plays.”
Taro Fukuyama, CEO & Co-Founder of AnyPerk
Best quote: “Workplace culture should have a seat at the table and be measured in line with revenue or profit. It’s the job of the leadership team to allocate sufficient time and effort to foster the health of their organization knowing that happy employees make for better business. And it pays off, whether you have five employees or 5,000.”
Bryan Koontz, CEO of Guidefitter
Best quote: “I believe the future of company culture in 10-15 years will be dramatically influenced by the Internet of Things. Thus, the 9 to 5 will be traded for a flexible work schedule that allows for 3 hour lunch breaks, late mornings, or half-day Fridays. Due largely to IoT, defined hours and boundaries will dissolve as work will be able to be accomplished regardless of location.”
Jodie Shaw, CMO of The Alternative Board
Best quote: “The future of company culture means greater flexibility for employees in terms of location and schedule, offering them better work life balance and stronger engagement.”
Ira S. Wolfe, President of Success Performance
Best quote: “Growing companies will be a mix of robots, co-bots (humans working synchronously with robots) and humans.”
Eileen Scully, Founder of The Rising Tides
Best quote: “Corporate cultures are experiencing a major shift that will result in a move towards flatter organizations, salary transparency, executive accountability (beyond revenue into culture), and higher public commitment to social responsibility.”
DeeAnn Sims, Founder of SPBX
Best quote: “Companies of all sizes will need to define their core values to represent a culture that cares. By aligning your business with a relevant cause, you are able to attract candidates for hire who are more invested than ever.”
Bryan Trilli, Founder of Optimized-Marketing.com
Best quote: “As more millennials rise to leadership roles you’ll see a continued shift towards caring. Your first role is to serve those around you and then get out of their way to allow them to succeed.”
Chris Edmonds, Author of “The Culture Engine”, Founder & CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group
Best quote: “The most effective work cultures of the future ensure that everyone–leader, team member, customer, everyone–is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction. To accomplish that, leaders must create a culture where values–how people treat each other–are as important as results, every day.
Trey Stout, Co-Founder & CTO at ScribbleChat
Best quote: “We’ll see an aggressive reduction of middle management. We’ll see a move away from low trust environments to high trust, high information environments. The lowest on the totem pole will understand exactly how they contribute to company success. Companies will shed their red tape or die in the market from inefficiency.”
Evan Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of SD Equity Partners
Best quote: “Employees will expect to know how they are doing at any moment. Gone are the days of 6 month reviews; future employees will demand that feedback at the drop of a hat. This will ultimately foster a company culture of continuous self-improvement.”
Brett Webb, VP of North America, Favorite Medium
Best quote: “The companies I have worked with have ebbs and flows of workers coming online during the day. Culture is born out of the interactions that happen in chat rooms, video conferencing, email or other types of collaboration tools teams employ.
Rob Volpe, Founder & CEO of Ignite 360
Best quote: “Give people a budget to go out and have an experience like a massage or dinner out, with the request that they have to share it in email with others in the work group. These initiatives can help people feel connected to the larger organization.”
Sandy Marsico, CEO & Founder of Sandstorm
Best quote: “I believe a company’s culture will by synonymous with its brand. Top talent will be less concerned about salary and more interested in finding a corporate culture that fits his or her lifestyle, where he or she can contribute to not only to the business, but to the culture as well.”
Gene Caballero, Co-Founder of GreenPal
Best quote: “Culture gets mislabeled as ‘perks’ offered throughout an organization. In its most potent form, culture should refer to the aligning values of the organization; do you and your team members all believe in the same things? What is your team’s mantra?”
Daniel Passov, President of Greek U, Inc.
Best quote: “When you walk into a company 10 years from now, you won’t see ping pong tables, but rather a culture that embodies the vision of the company. If you are a company that donates a pair of shoes for every shoe sold, then you will see the stories of the positive impact the company has made; trips to meet the actual people that you have helped; personal contact with the people that the company has helped will be a large part of it.”
Rafael Romis, CEO of Weberous
Best quote: “Company culture will continue to become more informal in the future, particularly as virtual reality matures and remote teams start using it for meetings. So, a team could choose to meet “on the moon” and all attend as astronauts or aliens or they could choose to meet “in a medieval dining hall” and attend as elves or wizards or something like that. Meetings might end up becoming the most anticipated part of a company’s culture instead of the most dreaded.”
Natalie Crede, Senior VP of People & Leadership Development for Safelite AutoGlass
Best quote: “The future of company culture is about the employee experience through purpose-driven leadership. Examples include more career levels and incentives, greater choices in healthcare insurance options, peer-to-peer recognition programs, and a more casual work environment.”
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.