Why You Should Give Your Company Culture a Budget

When I’ve asked, “Why do you spend money on company culture?” to every CEO I’ve interviewed, they always respond with, “It’s the best money I’ve ever spent. It has the highest ROI.”

Investing in company culture has a high return on investment in many ways. Employee retention is higher — people stay longer at their jobs, do better work, and the turnover rate is lower.

It also creates a work environment where people genuinely enjoy coming to work.

So how do you do it?

Start by budgeting money specifically for culture, including hiring or designating a salaried person as your go-to culture manager. In our company, we call this person the “culture whip.”

Culture is so important to us that we doubled down and said, “Culture matters enough to put a focus here. In fact, it matters enough to put personnel dollars here.” Long before I started studying for this book, we decided to have one of our employees take on the role of culture whip and devote 30 to 40 percent of her time to culture.

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I’ve learned that what we did by hiring someone to oversee our culture is exactly what a whole lot of companies are doing. Our friends at HubSpot have even named their culture person a C-suite executive, chief culture officer.

At our company, the culture whip’s job is similar to a political party’s whip. The job is to “whip” everyone in line with our culture through events, reading, coordinated onboarding, and a growing list of objectives, all designed around the bet that in the end, culture wins.

Just like a political majority or minority whip uses his or her position to “whip” the party into shape, our whip ensures that our company’s values and culture involve everyone and permeate everything we do.

Cultural events don’t have to be expensive, but they usually cost something; therefore, they require a budget. It’s the culture whip’s job to manage the budget. For our company, the budget isn’t huge, but it doesn’t have to be. The culture whip has total autonomy to manage the budget and measure spending throughout the year.

The payoff is huge. Our people are happy and more productive. Employee retention is better, which is a huge payoff in the discussion about the value of culture-focus.

The ROI of putting money into the culture budget to build a great culture that attracts people and makes them want to stay is about much more than a cool workplace. It’s to provide an environment in which everyone enjoys working. When people want to be at work, they stick around. You won’t have to bribe people to work for you or try to convince them the company will be a great success one day. We’ve achieved shorter hiring times, better hires, and higher retention rates because of our intentionality around culture.

And that’s a win for culture and a win for business.

William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen
William Vanderbloemen is founder & CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

William Vanderbloemen

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