The Case for Compelling Workplace Culture

In a market rife with competitive hiring, a great work culture is sound defense

August 14, 2017
CBH Homes offers compelling workplace culture

Los Angeles has often been called strange. But, show business notwithstanding, Silicon Valley makes us southlanders look quite sane when it comes to workplace culture. Trendy open offices, conference spaces that look like rumpus rooms, and three meals a day provided on site so employees eat at the office rather than leaving are supposed “perks” that are ultimately proving to be a recipe for burnout. In spite of this, or maybe because of it, startup culture is emulated in the name of excellence, innovation, productivity, and profit with fewer resources, and the practices have spread beyond the Golden State. But now they’re being more closely examined, as we read of the diminished productivity, increased stress, and mounting health concerns that may result.

This month, we explore the corporate cultures of four builders that set themselves apart with ways of working that encourage productivity and sustainability, and increase their power to retain great employees. Professional Builder contributor Pat Curry, who wrote the story, found what she saw energizing and thought-provoking for several reasons. “It was so inspiring to talk to all of these builders who are doing amazing things but in many cases feel they could be doing much better,” Curry told me. Her reporting confirms that corporate culture is much more than a poster on a wall or tenets listed in a handbook. Defining your company culture is a process that can’t and shouldn’t be rushed—it’s just too important. Some builders she spoke with spent a year on the process of defining their culture and rolling it out to employees.

Curry’s story stresses the fact that in such a tight labor market, cohesive culture and attention to work-life balance is smart business. Ronda Conger, VP of Idaho-based CBH Homes (pictured above), says CBH employees get email every day from people trying to poach them. Conger’s hope is that the culture that CBH Homes works so hard to maintain is strong enough to keep great people from contemplating going elsewhere. Sure enough, the builder is one of Idaho’s Best Places to Work honorees for 2017. (If there’s any doubt, try hanging out with a group from CBH Homes at an industry event. They bring new meaning to the phrase esprit de corps.)

We hope this month’s story prompts you to reflect on your own company’s culture—what you know it to be and where the gaps exist. As Curry learned, that’s one of the real benefits of articulating it. Once you put your culture out there for everyone to see, it holds you accountable.

editor-in-chief

Amy Albert is editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine. Previously, she worked as chief editor of Custom Home and design editor at Builder. Amy came to writing about building by way of food journalism, as kitchen design editor at Bon Appetit and before that, at Fine Cooking, where she shot, edited, and wrote stories on kitchen design. She studied art history with an emphasis on architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania, has served on several design juries, and is a recipient of the 2017 Jesse H. Neal Award. 

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