Why Company Culture Matters
The current net profit margin of JetBlue Airways is 16.35%, versus 4.55% for American Airlines. JetBlue reports the highest customer satisfaction of any airline – low cost carrier or not – and employees report higher overall satisfaction with their jobs than American Airlines, while also receiving higher pay. Through building a great company culture in conjunction with great management establishing the best possible deals, JetBlue has managed to maintain a high profit margin, high customer satisfaction, high employee satisfaction, charge their customers less, and pay their employees more in an industry with notoriously low customer satisfaction. As someone that has been a passenger on both airlines, I can confidently say you can tell the difference when interacting with JetBlue employees.
Company culture can directly affect productivity if it is does not result in high performance and a happy atmosphere. It sets the tone on everything from how employees go about their work, to how they interact with customers and fellow coworkers. One mistake in designing the culture can get your business a bad reputation for customer service, while a healthy culture makes the experience more enjoyable and can result in free word of mouth advertising as customers are anxious to share their great experiences. Do your best to draw on past experiences – if this is your first time running a company, think back to where you previously worked. What did you enjoy? What common habits did you notice that resulted in lower productivity? Think strategically, and make sure you emphasize good practices from the very start.
Make your core values clear and concise, then build your culture around those values. Think about your own personality, and try to infuse it into the company culture. Are you relaxed but still expect the best from people? Do you thrive in a work hard, play hard environment? Do you value collaboration and teamwork? If so, establish those values and promote people that exemplify the behavior you are looking for. You should also do your best to recruit people that already embody those values – make sure you’re asking the right questions in interviews to establish the personality of the people you’re interviewing to make sure they fit the mold.
Communication is key in every successful company culture. Often times, running team building and bonding exercises within and outside the office is key to getting employees friendly and comfortable with each other. Do your best to foster an atmosphere that encourages people to share ideas and speak to one another. If you want your employees to develop a love for your company, have them drink the Kool-Aid and inspire them from the start. JetBlue brings all new hires to their corporate office in Orlando, introduces them to top leadership, shares success and advancement stories, puts them in flight simulators, then proceeds to wine and dine them. They show them a good time to amp new hires up before their first day on the job to make sure they bring new energy into the company.
Most importantly, never forget the importance of maintaining and carefully evolving your culture as time progresses. If you establish a work hard play hard mentality, and start out inviting staff to team building activities, such as bowling, rock climbing, etc., do not forget to maintain those habits and continue scheduling team exercises to keep the bonds in your organization strong. However, if you notice too much emphasis is placed on the play hard side and productivity begins to suffer as employees talk more, are easily distracted, and lose focus, it is important that you adjust the culture to maintain the team spirit while ensuring employees do not forget why they are there. Hold friendly competitions to encourage hard work, establish small goals that lead to the bigger ones your business needs to thrive, and if necessary don’t be afraid to introduce new rules that ensure productivity doesn’t falter.