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What Does Culture Mean to Area Businesses? Everything.

by Angela Orr | Apr 16, 2018

Rob Hess is the Regional Account Manager at Foodsby, a corporate lunch amenity program, designed to enhance culture, and save employees time and money over the lunch hour. Foodsby services more than 160 office building in KC and more than 1,700 nationwide.

Years ago, I remember talking to my father at his retirement party after 30+ years in the banking industry. He told me that I should never have to dread going to work like he had. He encouraged me to work for a company that strives to value my time and reward my dedication. His face lit up with joy as he talked about not having to walk back into the bank for another day of work. It's not that he disliked his job or working with his colleagues or clients (he has maintained relationships with both to this day), but the company culture left a demoralizing imprint. I recall wondering whether it was possible to work at the same company for over 30 years and enjoy it.

Fast forward to now. I followed that fatherly advice and I love my work. I have the unique opportunity to help companies become what my father had hoped I would find – a place where intentional culture cultivates pathways to success; a place where productivity and employee wellness meet and thrive.

But to do this, a company must not only define its culture, but also understand the relationship between that definition and profitability. This task becomes more challenging with each generation. As it becomes less common for employees to stay with one company for 30 years as my father did, employers must get creative to maximize retention.

Company culture is certainly not a new topic, though how it affects employee productivity is always evolving, so the conversation is as important as ever. After all, the average employee will spend over 90,000 hours of their life at work. 

So what are companies doing to ensure the greatest possible experience for their employees? 

I sat down with our area partners to find out how they define culture in their workplace and what they’re doing to strengthen that culture in the office and in the community. 

"Our overarching goal is to create a culture where everyone feels engaged and can do their best work" says Kelly Murphy, Senior HR Director at KCP&L. "This helps drive the strategy of the business and creates a welcoming approach to attract the best and brightest. We view culture as a two-way street, where more and more candidates are evaluating companies, just as much as employers are looking for talented candidates that would be a better fit into their culture, so they can thrive".

KCP&L's culture starts with a strong set of values, where leadership models those company values to create a broader vision, beyond just company vision. An example of this is its Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which help transform KCP&L's culture through company and community engagement and creative activism. These ERGs range from Future Forward, a creative and innovative idea incubator, to collaborative groups focused on Wellbeing, Millennials, Hispanic, African American, Veteran and Women's leadership.

Another continued culture leader in KC is Lockton. Celebrating its 9th consecutive "Best Places to Work in Insurance" awarded by Business Insurance, Lockton continuously strives to create a culture that empowers its Associates’ entrepreneurial spirit, while providing the tools for success. Lockton offers its Associates more than 700 development classes, along with extraordinary amenities and benefits packages, designed for a strong work/life/family balance. 

Lockton offers an amenity rich workplace to create a better experience for growth: an in-depth wellness program (which helped save an associate’s life), community involvement opportunities, social events, massages, dry cleaning, and even offers a fertility benefit for associates looking to start a family. Lockton believes in taking care of its associates, because in the end, associates will take care of their clients, which creates a healthy eco-system.

"Our culture has always been based on the principles of serving our clients, developing our Associates, and giving back to our communities." Says Sara Prochaska, Assistant VP and Community Relations Specialist at Lockton. "This is the foundation in which our company was built upon."

One size does not fit at all when companies are developing their own unique culture. SelectQuote's approach is a good example of that. Amy Spellman, the office ring leader says, "Our approach is to create a fun and energetic atmosphere that get our employees excited about coming to work. We believe this energy carries over to every aspect of an employee’s work, from customer service to problem solving."

As another amenity rich organization that offers up some great perks such as, weekly subsidized lunches, happy hours, team-building activities, company outings, and even a trip to Grand Cayman Islands for top agents. Selectquote is one of the fastest growing companies, so attracting top talent is a strong focus. "Our company culture plays a huge role in our recruitment process.  We want to show that work can be fun, while at the same time, be motivating".

Overall, cultivating culture takes time, energy and thoughtful leadership. But the benefit to employees, and ultimately a company’s bottom line, is worth the extra effort. With the right balance of amenities, wellness and authenticity, an employee might even (happily) stick around for 30 years.

Learn more about Foodsby by contacting Rob Hess. For questions about TeamKC: Life+Talent contact Jessica Palm.

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