Employer Branding

Why Your Startup's Great Culture Is More Than Just Instagram-Worthy Team Photos

Instagram worthy team photo

So, you think you've nailed the perfect company culture because your team's Instagram looks like a blast and your office decor is on point?

Hold up—there's more to crafting a genuinely stellar workplace culture than just aesthetics and social media prowess. Let's dive into the flashy (yet superficial) reasons businesses believe they have a great culture, and then unravel the real, gritty practices that truly signify a thriving company environment.

The Glossy, Instagrammable Surface

Many companies mistake surface-level perks and pretty visuals for a strong company culture:

  • Team Photos on Instagram: Sure, your team looks happy at that trendy new bar, but does a picture really say a thousand words about your workplace environment?
  • Values Co-Created in Workshops: It's one thing to brainstorm values together; it's another to live by them.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing Documentation: Having your values and mission statement laid out in a stylish Notion page might win design points, but it doesn’t ensure those values are practiced.
  • Team Outings and Socials: While these are great for bonding, they don’t automatically translate to daily operational harmony or deep job satisfaction.
  • Impressive Glassdoor Scores: External validations like high Glassdoor scores can be encouraging, but they can also be manipulated and may not reflect everyone’s experiences.

These elements, while beneficial for branding and creating an initial allure, do not solely constitute a profound company culture. They are merely the icing on the cake. Now, let's get to the cake itself—the real indicators of a robust company culture.

The Real Indicators of a Strong Company Culture

True company culture is built through consistent, genuine practices that support growth, learning, and transparency:

  • Career Progression Examples: Real stories of team members who have risen through the ranks show a culture that fosters growth and rewards dedication.
  • Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity: Companies that view failures as lessons rather than setbacks have a culture that encourages risk-taking and innovation.
  • Comfort in Speaking Up: A culture where employees feel safe to express concerns or ideas is one that values transparency and communication.
  • Acting on Employee Feedback: Implementing changes based on employee feedback demonstrates a responsive and adaptive culture.
  • Following Through on Commitments: Consistency between what is said and what is done reinforces trust and reliability within the team.
  • Values That Inform Behavior: It’s crucial that stated values are reflected in day-to-day behaviors and decision-making processes.
  • Investment in Learning and Development (L&D): Continuous investment in the professional growth of employees shows a commitment to their personal and career development.

Why Culture Isn't Just Another Hack

Culture isn’t something you can engineer with a few quick fixes or hacks. It’s built day by day, interaction by interaction. It's about how decisions are made, how employees are treated, and how challenges are addressed. A healthy culture fosters a workplace where employees are engaged, motivated, and aligned with the company's goals and values.

Conclusion: Work on Your Foundation, Not Just Your Facade

Building a meaningful company culture requires more than just fun outings and cool office spaces. It requires a commitment to genuine practices that support, develop, and respect your team. Remember, a truly great culture is felt, not just seen. It’s about creating an environment where employees not only want to show up but are also inspired to grow and take the company to higher heights.

So, let’s ask ourselves: are we just creating a facade, or are we nurturing a thriving culture that will stand the test of time? Think beyond the gram-worthy snapshots and focus on cultivating a real, impactful company culture. After all, the best cultures are lived, not staged


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