The aim of a culture book is to provide a glimpse of a company’s culture as it grows. It’s a way of preserving and reminding employees about it, whilst onboarding new ones and exciting them about the “culture experience” they’re about to encounter.
Simon Sinek once said, “Only when we take values off the wall and actually live them, can we say you we have a strong culture”, and that’s what a culture book is all about. It showcases what’s important to you as a business, and illustrates it through real life examples from your employees, bringing them to life.
Precisely for this reason, at Perkbox, we’ve decided to revisit our culture book this year. We wanted to make sure it stayed relevant and reflected the 150 new faces we’ve added since we created our first one. Now that it’s ready, we wanted to release it publicly as part of our #WorkplaceCultureWeek celebrations.
You can take a look here. And while you’re at it, see below for a few learnings we noted in the process of building it. Hopefully they’re useful insights for everyone!
1. What format should a culture book follow?
When putting together our culture book, we realised that whilst there’s a lot of hype around the meaning of culture, there is no actual definition for “culture book” and the purpose it serves.
That’s probably why every business has a different take on it. Netflix, for example, includes content that’s considered to represent a cutting-edge management philosophy but it’s not the flashiest. Zappos, on the other hand, follow a comic style format and is filled with thoughts from employees that are updated yearly.
At Perkbox, we’ve crafted our own through the support of our “Culture Guardians”. A group of employees responsible for creating the link between the company C-suite and the rest of the business when it comes to culture. They always have their ear to the ground, guide our culture and protect what makes Perkbox, well, Perkbox!
2. Three awesome purposes a culture book can serve
2.1 Nailing the hiring process
In today’s day and age, cultural fit plays a key role in determining the success and contribution of an employee to a business. But how do you achieve this when that individual hasn’t had the chance to live and breathe your culture in the first place? One simple way is by encouraging them to read your company’s culture book – written by employees and explained through first-hand experiences.
2.2 Understanding a business’ dynamics
A culture book can also provide a great taste of what a company’s day-to-day dynamics look like. If you want to find out: Whether the company has great ambitions? Check it’s values. Whether it’s a fast-paced environment? Check its history. Whether it has a strong sense of unity? Read through the employee stories.
In a nutshell, it’s a simple and effective way of “reading in between the lines”.
2.3 Breaking with industry Stereotypes
Culture books are also a great way of breaking with false stereotypes in certain industries. For example, in the technology industry employees are often associated with being “geeks”. A way of encouraging change in this respect – particularly if you’re a techie business – is by showcasing what people are really like working in your organisation. A culture book is an excellent way of getting this message across.
3) Now that the culture book is written, what next?
Besides having an awesome culture book, more needs to be done to succeed culturally in an organisation and create a great workplace experience. An awesome culture, no matter in what industry, starts by having a “culture that sticks”. One that everyone believes in and is motivated by – you shouldn’t wait for it to emerge, you should define and cultivate it from within.
A culture book with awesome content and values is of little relevance if it’s not enshrined in a company's best practice or if the people hired don’t possess the ability and willingness to embrace what’s in it. It’s hard work. And yet when the effort is made, the results really pay off but are rarely celebrated.
That’s why at Perkbox we launched the first ever #WorkplaceCultureWeek last month. A week where we all took a step back and reflected upon our culture, the highs, the lows and above all, the effort that goes into creating it, 365 days a year.
We were thrilled to see so many businesses getting involved. And what this tells us is that there’s clearly no space for debate - workplace culture is unique and ever changing, but it’s the DNA of every business and therefore must be preserved – it deserves to be celebrated!