Money For Lunch – The Difference Between a Real and Faux Culture

The Difference Between a Real and Faux Culture

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Many companies consider perks to be a term synonymous with company culture. They measure the strength of their culture by the number of foosball tables in their break room or based on how many free meals they give their employees. However, a 2015 study by IBM found the thing most important to Millennials’ long-term happiness was to make a positive impact—on the company and on society as a whole.

Perks Only Scratch the Surface

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the two core elements needed are the physical needs and safety and security. In the workplace, that means the ability to put food on the table, a roof over your head and the job security to know that isn’t going away tomorrow.

The issue with perks is that they’re only scratching the surface with tangible things. They’re targeting those two base layers of the hierarchy. A real culture goes beyond the basic human needs and into the top three layers of the hierarchy: belonging, affirmation, and meaning (B.A.M.).


When you start to feel B.A.M. at work, productivity will soar as you’re not just getting work done. You’re making a personal commitment to get stuff done for your co-workers—your friends. Only then can you’re the work you’re doing go beyond pushing buttons, but making a difference for yourself, your colleagues and your customers.


Identifying Red Flags in Your Culture

One of the greatest challenges leaders have is to identify what’s really happening—how do people really act when no one else is watching? If your culture is failing, you’ll often get the answer your employees think you want to hear. That might sound good, but it doesn’t help you identify issues in the culture.


There is no magic pill that’ll tell you if you have a good culture, but there are some things you can do to start putting your finger on what’s really happening. Here’s a few questions you can ask your employees to get a peek into what your culture is really like.


How Clean is the Restroom Near You? It doesn’t matter if you have a custodial team dedicated to cleaning the restrooms, you can get a good idea of how much people care about others by finding out how they leave the restroom. For example, if they mention finding empty toilet paper rolls then it’s clear whomever was there before them didn’t really care about the next person.


When Was the Last Time You Felt B.A.M. at Work? If your employees can’t identify a time when they felt belonging, affirmation, and meaning in their work, that’s not a good sign.


How Often Do You Eat Lunch at Your Desk? This question can give insight into workload. When your employees are eating lunch at their desks on a constant basis, that can mean they don’t feel they have time to take a full lunch break—which is a red flag indicating they’re overworked.


When Was Your Last Uncomfortable Conversation with a Co-Worker? When passion and the daily challenges of work collide, uncomfortable conversations are unavoidable. Instead of trying to avoid them, a real culture embraces them to grow stronger—together.


Many people assume that great perks translate into a great culture. Focusing only on perks is focusing too much on stuff and not enough on your people. It can be a great way to help recruit talented people, but people can get stuff with their paycheck. If you’re not helping your people achieve what they really want—belonging, affirmation, and meaning—that paycheck might not have your company’s name on it for long.

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