The relationship between corporate culture and financial performance is integral. Fifty different companies might have 50 different definitions of positive corporate culture, but all of them likely would agree on the definition of profit. The key is not in the details of the culture but the success of how it’s integrated into the business aspects of the company and, thus, its bottom line. Although an unhappy employee usually is an unproductive employee, it’s difficult to deal with so many sets of circumstances.
It’s so difficult, companies such as Electronic Arts (EA) are trying to implement strategies of synergy between productivity and culture as early as the new-hire training phase.
Cindy Nicola, EA senior director of talent acquisition, said employees receive training at EA from day one.
“Learning is geared to be relevant to them and their career paths,” she said. “In terms of the bottom line, training gets them to speed quicker and faster.”
The company recognizes the boost to morale and — eventually — productivity that comes from training its employees in a job-specific manner, Nicola said. And EA also recognizes the value of smaller, day-to-day details, which aid long-term retention.
“EA is a creative, casual work environment,” Nicola said. “We don’t have a dress code, and people from all walks of life work here — people from the business side might be more polished and on the creative side, more expressive. Everyone manages their own time. It’s too hard to box creativity, so there’s flexibility in regard to hours. It’s an environment that encourages people to stimulate and flex their creative muscles, so we have things like game rooms on the campus with pingpong tables and little nooks where people can go sit.
“Also, our grounds have soccer fields and a volleyball court. We really want people to feel like they have the opportunity to take a break and go do something when they need to.”
Nicola stressed responsibility and creativity go hand in hand at EA, a policy that is a likely response to younger employees working in such a creative yet business-strong environment. At EA, the balance of structure, responsibility and creativity is ingrained in a culture that fosters productivity.
“Most would describe EA as a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture with a strong sense of accountability,” Nicola said. “I think that flexibility actually motivates people. When you’re all working as a team, pushing toward a common goal, there’s something that rallies people around that goal. It helps to be able to walk away, take a break and come back. Accountability and creativity are two core values of EA. There’s always going to be that ‘yin and yang’ aspect to it, but it works.”
It’s that contrasting but complementary aspect that drives people to work for EA through recruiting or word of mouth. About half of EA hires are based on employee referrals, Nicola said.
Maintaining that interest level is a big part of EA’s culture, and it keeps strong, talented and motivated employees coming in for years, which insulates the bottom line.
“If we go out and get the best and brightest, we’ll want to keep them here,” Nicola said. “So how do we create an environment that has that teamwork, camaraderie and pride; where people not only want to stay, but also want to refer people?
“If our culture is so strong that people want to invite other people to join the company, then that’s saying something.”
– Ben Warden, email@example.com