This post originally ran on Inc.com, where Rocketrip’s CEO Dan Ruch has a regular column on travel, technology, and entrepreneurship.
When it comes to the currency of company culture, a pat on the back isn't worth as much as it used to be. There was a time when company-centric was the only type of corporate culture you could find; a time when employees were for the company, because there was nothing else to be for.
However, as Heraclitus of Ephesus said, the only constant is change. Heraclitus' writings were designed to force readers into independent thought and realization, which differed greatly from his predecessors'. Today's company culture differs from those of the past as well. We have moved on from the dogma where all corporations function in a company-centric way and into an era where employee-centric is just as productive a philosophy, if not more so.
How to defuse a bomb
As the lion's share of employees at any given company becomes millennials, we begin to see a philosophical shift. Employees are getting to know their own worth—there is competition for top tier talent and when it comes to bargaining, perks and quality of corporate life are definitely in the mix. The idea of putting your employees first may seem potentially disastrous to some, however, corporations have also begun to think and act more progressively, realizing that employee-centric is actually company-centric.
You can think of it this way: if every employee knows that he must act on behalf of his company above all, forsaking anything that would be of benefit to only himself, this employee may grow resentful. An employee that resents their workplace can be a ticking time bomb. Whether it's something as simple as executing tasks in a mediocre way, or as serious as purposefully acting against the company, this employee could not only be a detriment to the organization, but to company morale.
On the other hand, if you have an employee who knows that it's in the company's best interest that he thrives, that he will succeed if the company succeeds, it means that every action that he takes for the benefit of the company actually benefits him. This employee also has an effect on company morale, but in a positive way.
And get out on top
Regardless of the type of industry (e.g. service, retail, hi-tech, etc.) all businesses function by selling in one form or another, and you can't thrive in sales without customers. The interactions that your customers have throughout their relationship with your company are integral and your employees are key in this equation.
Employees are your direct line to your customers. They make up the back end, front end, and everything in between, for whatever product you want to reach your customers (or clients, or patients). What you put into the culture of your company and how you treat your employees is reflected in not only their work, but also their interactions with your customers.
In an employee-centric culture, we see newly motivated employees who are impassioned, eager, more productive, and will work twice as hard for you. The more you put into your employee programming, structure, and quality of life, the more you get out of them.
To create an environment where employees thrive, we need to figure out how to create a workplace experience that's worth their while--or that they perceive is worth their while. Perks can contribute to employees' overall sense of well-being, but the novelty of perks alone are short-lived and ultimately don't provide the meaningful experience today's workforce is seeking.
According to a recent study conducted by TinyPulse, the number one trend impacting today's workplace was a company culture crisis. A staggering 64% of employees did not feel they had a strong work culture.
Being employee-centric is creating a meaningful experience for your employees. No matter what the pillars of your organizational culture are, it's important that they exist.
Ultimately company culture is a cycle. If you want to be company-centric, you need to first be employee-centric. Build from the inside out, and as your employees thrive, your company will thrive.