Strategies For Workplace Structure

By Liz Gray

On the assumption that you are outside what you are inside.

The overwhelming majority of business leaders today recognize that their company culture has become an essential ingredient in corporate success, but many leaders are not sure of how to go about ensuring that they are operating with the policies, programs and work environments that support an “Inside Out” strategy.

95% of senior leaders believe a company’s perceived culture affects consumer buying decisions, yet only 60% believe their organization’s culture supports their brand (Egon Zehnder surveyed senior leaders at Kellogg Marketing Leadership Summit)


Why is it important for both sales and hiring?

Inside Out means that the internal culture reflects the way you want consumers to see you. It’s important because in this post-trust era, consumers are paying attention and are interested in understanding the inner workings of the brands they love. This includes the brands they want to buy from and the brands they want to work for. They don’t expect perfection, they recognize that brands, like people, are a constant work in progress, but they expect to see real evidence of change and actions that reflect what the brand says they stand for.  In order to make this happens effectively, marketers, that usually just communicate with the outside world, must become active leaders of a company’s culture.

“When our people feel cared about and respected, they turn around and make our customers feel that way too.” CEO Danny Wegman, Wegmans

If that’s not reason enough, unhappy employees take fifteen more sick days each year than the average worker.

So how can companies get there?

1. Top Down: Leadership matters.

Change must come from the top down. Employees within an organization, as well as individuals outside of it, look to leaders to prioritize equality and to mandate the actions necessary to transform corporate culture. With all eyes on them, executives and managers needs to set an example and be the change they want to see in their workplace.

Creating a culture of belonging is a business imperative, requiring the entire C-suite to step up and own it. Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are often treated as a single initiative owned exclusively by HR. But for real change to happen, it’s important that every individual leader develops their own belief in the value of belonging…

2. Clear Values: Replace perks with purpose.

Corporate culture is not about perks like pool tables, pet-friendly offices or free coffee, it is about a shared set of values and attitudes that people within an organization abide by.

Corporate Culture is defined as patterns of accepted behavior, and the beliefs and values that promote and reinforce them

“When our people feel cared about and respected, they turn around and make our customers feel that way too.” CEO Danny Wegman, The Wegmans

Companies need to be able to articulate what their beliefs and values are and make sure that their internal policies, culture and business strategies all align with those. Staying true to the company’s overall values and mission is essential in everything they do.

“Everyone at Google is sharp and inspired to build great things” is consistent with the company’s employee value proposition: “Do cool things that matter.”

3. One Community: Think holistically. 

View your Brand community as a whole. Your employees and consumers are all part of the community and building a workplace that is able to best serve the WHOLE community is essential.

confident business woman

What is good for employees is also good for the company. Listen and respond to the needs of employees. It will impact recruiting and retaining talent companies to focus the wellbeing of people, whether through creating goods that have a positive impact or improving the lives of their employees by offering skills, healthy living initiatives and fair wages. care about how companies treat their employee family. They have strong opinions about employees’ working conditions and equal opportunities in the workplace.

4. Don’t confuse diversity for inclusion.

Although the diversity of a company can be measured by data, it’s far more complex to assess its inclusivity. (The Modern Guide To Equality, The Female Quotient) defines inclusion as belongingness + uniqueness. This means that employees need to not only feel like a part of a team but also recognize their unique value to that team. Embracing an environment of collaboration and communication as well as investing in employee initiatives can help develop a culture of inclusion.  With inclusion, comes increased creativity and innovation which of course impacts the brand’s products, marketing, and overall consumer experience.

5. Nothing to hide: Be transparent.

We have entered an era where individuals are encouraged to question everything. Transparency provides truth and gives employees the information they need to make informed decisions

Transparency increases brand trust. Consumers are continuing to demand transparency from brands so they can make conscious decisions of where to put their dollars.

Consumers are no longer focused just on sustainability and environmental impact, they care about all of the internal workings of the companies they support- from salary transparency, to policies and programs that support overall wellness of employees.

In order to maintain alignment on corporate culture, open, on-going communication is essential.

For Example, IBM invited all of its 400,000 employees online to discuss what was core to the company—and the CEO and CMO took part in threaded dialogue over a 24-hour period.

6. Know what your employees care about: Do your research.

Just like you study the attitudes, opinions and behaviors of your consumers to understand how to best serve them, you have to understand the values, passions and opinions of your employees.

Forward-thinking employee benefits developed off of quantifiable insights can become an invaluable marketing tool- for recruiting and retaining talent as well as consumer-facing initiatives.

For example, at Clif Bar&Co they provide employees with “at least 30 minutes each day to exercise on company time. ‘What we get is really engaged, energized folks,’ said Keith Neumann, senior VP-brand marketing at Clif Bar & Co.

7. Have accountability: Measure it. 

Data and insights create accountability and offer a way to track progress. Just like any consumer-facing initiatives, It is only through measurement that leaders can identify what works, what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. Today’s successful leaders are building diverse teams who share accountability in ensuring a culture that results in extreme loyalty and passion from team members.


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