Building a Positive Company Culture

How to Build a Positive Corporate Culture

According to research from LinkedIn, 83% of hiring managers believe  that having a positive company image is essential in recruiting top talent.

Research also tells us that today’s job seekers typically make a career change based on 3 items;

  • 1) Where a role will position them 1, 3 and 5 years down the road.
  • 2) Corporate culture….who they are working for, and with. The level of support and the reputation of the company
  • 3) Compensation.

Make no mistake about it…every single company, from your local CPA firm to Fortune 500 companies, ALL have a unique culture. The question is, how can you create a positive, uplifting culture within your organization?

The truth is, positive cultures do not just spontaneously happen, but are consciously, actively developed by leadership.

When business owners think of creating a positive image to attract future employees as well as broadening their appeal for their customer base, their first thoughts are usually costly ad campaigns. While a big budget may help with your employer branding efforts, the primary factor that will impact its effectiveness the most is the authentic way in which your company treats its front line employees.

Think about it….who gains to earn the highest bonuses when a bank does well? Is it the Bank President, or Branch Manager? Certainly not the tellers, who have the most contact with customers, correct?

  • By changing the paradigm that rewards front line employees, creating a direct link between exemplary customer service and rewards, customer service will inevitably go up.

Your employees are happier, and your customers will reap the rewards.  


Turn your employees into brand ambassadors. For small businesses, their employees are the best assets. Leveraging them to spread the word about your company lends your business credibility.

Employee reviews and testimonials are inexpensive and often times free. It is easy to compile and share insider reviews on your company culture and then give outsiders a real insight in to what your company culture is like. What your employees say about you is undoubtedly the most accurate reflection of your company. Glassdoor is a terrific example of a site that offers employees the opportunity to share with others insights into your corporate culture.

Obviously, the important thing is to make sure that you indeed do have a pleasant place to work, so that the reviews are positive.

Creating a Mission Statement

Before you can start to establish an employer brand, you need to be crystal clear on your business identity, mission statement, and company culture.

This means you must lay out what distinguishes you from competitors, your unique features and what challenges you seek to overtake.

When people have a clear idea about what your company stands for and what the positives and negatives of the work experiences are, they are more likely to stay with your firm.

In order to create a compelling Mission Statement, give some thought to your end goal. What is it that you most want to achieve with your company, aside from turning a profit? In this day and age, we see more and more candidates wanting to work for companies that make a positive impact. Clarify what it is your company stands for, and then create a persuasive, concise mission statement.

Leverage Social Media

Making the most of your social media presence is essential to building an employer brand on a budget. Spread your message on social media websites that are free. The only investment from your side needs to be consistency, creativity and time.

Encourage your employees to paint your company in a positive light through reviews on Glassdoor, behind-the-scene stories on Instagram and sharing interesting projects and content on Facebook and Twitter, etc. We have also seen some extremely compelling videos put out by companies, that highlight ‘a day in the life’ of employees in specific positions. This can be an extremely effective marketing tool.

Posts from your employees about your company carry terrific weight, and the result with either be positive or negative, depending on the message. This makes it all the more imperative to work hard to build a positive work environment. Direct reports from front line employees will act as the most compelling factor in bringing in new hires and forging your identity as a wonderful place to work, and to do business with.

Praise Your Employees and Potential New Hires Will Notice

Research shows that the strongest incentive for employees to go the extra mile at work is public praise. By announcing awards, Presidents Club, and other achievements on social media, not only are you rewarding excellent behavior of your current employees, but potential new hires are also seeing these posts, and taking note.  Who doesn’t want to work for a company that sings their praises from the rooftops?

By striving to create a genuinely good place to work, and then having your employees share that information via social media, any company regardless of size and marketing budget can build a brand that candidates want to work for. And when customers see a company that treats their employees well, they automatically assign all kinds of positive attributes to the company in terms of the level of customer service they can expect.

Think about it…as a customer, are you inclined to give your hard earned money to a company that treats their employees like trash, or like royalty?  Not only will you be treated better by happy employees, but we all want to encourage companies that treat their workforce well.

Words of Wisdom from a Leader that has implemented  Positive Changes

As recruiters, we invest the time in developing relationships with high performers within any given market, learning what types of opportunities that they would be interested in making a move for.  Note that these are not active candidates that are actively looking to make a job change, but passive candidates. These candidates are doing well in their current role, and would only be willing to make a change for a clear vertical move.

After working in the Pennslvania Financial Services market for years now, we recently noticed that one bank was being consistently mentioned by passive candidates, as a bank that they would be interested in hearing about opportunities within. I decided to reach out to Chris Jacobsen, COO of Huntingdon Valley Bank to verify my hunch that this is not something that happened by accident, but rather a culture that had been deliberately built. It turns out my premonition was correct…Chris has a long history of going into banks, and implementing positive changes. Chris shared with me some innovative ways that he has used to create an infectiously positive company culture. While Chris’s suggestions are common in large sales organizations, they are unique in the banking realm, and I think they can be extremely beneficial to leadership in any industry.


Here are some of Jacobsen’s innovative ideas on how to create a corporate culture that results in your employees being  excited about their work, sharing that enthusiasm to your customers:    

  • Share the Vision & be Consistent – First and foremost, once a vision for a new corporate culture is drafted, it is critical to share the vision with the entire company, explain the purpose (the why), primary objectives and finally the envisioned benefit (for the Customer, Employees and the Company).
  • Commitment starts at the top, all members of the Leadership Team must be fully engaged or employees won’t buy in – change is never easy, human nature is generally resistant to change. Even when clearly for the better it is often difficult to see past the personal discomfort people experience with change and as a result tend to allow distractions or others’ perceived lack of commitment to serve as an excuse not to embrace it.  If EVERY member of the Leadership Team does not fully share the vision, these foundational cracks will SIGNIFICANTLY impede progress.
  • The Customer Your Employee is #1 – Companies often take the approach that their Customer is their top priority and while true, given without the customer there is no company, every company is only as strong as their weakest link. If an employee is unhappy it is very difficult to convince him/her to share your desire to provide superior customer service. Customers can see right through a half-hearted effort by an employee which will negatively impact the customer experience. Conversely, if your employees genuinely feel valued and appreciated,  it translates  directly to the customer experience.
  • Everyone needs ‘skin in the game’ – Develop a compensation plan that aligns personal priorities of the employee with the objectives with the Company such as incentives for tangible objectives like customer retention, growth and profitability. Instead of a unit/sales driven culture which fosters the value of a new sale ONLY, reward your employees on the net growth and they will value the existing customer every bit as much as the new one!
  • Get Feedback Along the Way – It is much easier to work toward a goal when you understand where you are vs the goal. Constantly seek feedback from employees across ALL LEVELS of the organization.  Be sure to solicit opinions from people who are not afraid to provide candid and honest feedback even if it is not what you ‘want’ to hear.  Carefully decipher what is objective and valid vs what is driven by personal agenda and don’t be afraid to make minor adjustments as needed. 
  • Reward the Little Wins Too – Go beyond the quarterly incentives, reward the little things with the little things and make it fun! We recently provided an employee with a gift card for jump-starting a customer’s car in the parking lot as a token of our appreciation. The employee simply viewed it as being nice but the PR benefits were amazing. Food is also a fun reward, we recently offered a ‘Fill the Fridge’ contest to all offices for superior mystery shop scores resulting in a boost in service levels and employee satisfaction. The snacks for the employees (both healthy and of the sugar variety) had a lasting impact as the employees thought it was fun, especially when it was the Senior Management Team who personally shopped and delivered the food! Look for reasons to reward the little things and those little things quickly become habit.


Americans spend 1/3 of their lives at work. For a multitude of reasons, both ethical as well as monetarily, it pays substantial dividends  to make the effort to create a positive, enjoyable culture for your company.

In order to achieve a goal, you need to have an implicit understanding of your starting point.

  • Invest in an anonymous survey, asking your employees what their perception is of your culture.
  • Be brave and check out your company on Glassdoor, and see what  your employees are telling others about how they are treated.
  • Have your management team each fill out a questionnaire that states how they rank their management style, in terms of accessibility,  coaching skills, mentoring abilities, and general demeanor.
  • Give the same list of questions to their direct reports. Is there a wide disparity between how managers see themselves and how others view them? Often times seeing the gap between their self -image and the            reality of how they come across can be startling. Most people would find significant differences between how they perceive themselves, and how others see them.


Take a clear look at your current leadership team, and determine if they are willing and able to  create the type of culture that your employees will rave about.  If you have someone in management that is not creating the culture that you want, make a change. One of the top 3 reasons that good employees leave their current role is unhappiness with their manager. Having  a poor manager can cost you in numerous ways, and can truly poison the well.

Since 1999, International Search Consultants has been a leader in executive search.  If you have a need for exceptional candidates for management roles,  please feel free to reach out to us to strategize about the skill sets and qualities  needed to create a positive company culture, and build a company that attracts top talent. Contact us today to start building a leadership team that will lead by example, creating a company culture that employees will flock  to, and work hard to stay at.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of ISC and can be reached via direct dial at 888-866-7276 or e=mail at