For the past two years now, ING DIRECT has been singled-out as one of Canada’s 50 top employers. We were also just named one of the top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in Canada by Waterstone Human Capital.
Other than looking impressive on our office walls, what do these awards actually mean? That our employees love where they work? That ING DIRECT is one of the best companies in Canada to work at? Or simply that our culture is admired by our employees, the industry and our peers?
Personally, I think it’s a combination of all three.
Award panels look at companies from many different perspectives before handing out any hardware. From where I sit, I think we’ve been fortunate enough to win a few culture-based awards because we really do value culture. We operate our business transparently as if the world can read our emails; we’re not hung up on titles; and we encourage people in every corner of the company to contribute and be innovative (which has actually generated hundreds of ideas over the years).
Whether you realize it or not, every company has its own corporate culture which is shaped by the organization’s attitudes, beliefs and norms. Much like a well-thought out business plan, companies today are beginning to realize just how important a strong and distinct culture is to its bottom-line and business success. Knowing what that culture is, ensuring it aligns with your business’ vision and goals and moulding it to achieve the outcomes you desire is one of the most under recognized management tools around.
When we launched the bank 15 years ago we knew that culture was one of the things that could set us apart, aside from our unique business model and value-based products. Our business was built on the premise that a strong and distinct culture could drive a more engaged workforce, better meet client needs and increase business results. Every new hire, employee promotion, leadership development program, performance review and coaching session adds to the foundation of our successful orange culture and great work force.
If you look at some well-known Silicon Valley companies (and this infographic from Mashable on perks at Facebook et al) you’ll see that clearly others are making big strides to keep talent in their organizations and to make coming to work fun. Some of these “perks” are slightly over the top, mind you, but it does show an emphasis on creating and sustaining workplace culture. This is something I believe we will need to see more of in Canada in the next two to three years, if businesses are to remain competitive globally.
As ING DIRECT’s CEO, helping sustain an admired culture is one of my top priorities. Companies that make it a priority will be the big winners in the future.