Company culture ideas from the best company culture of 2018

Sam Milbrath
By Sam Milbrath
February 13, 2019

In December 2018, Comparably announced their annual Best Company Culture winners based on the highest ratings by anonymous employee feedback. Comparably ranked each organization by 18 core culture metrics, broken up into demographics, team, company, and daily life.

Of the U.S.’s top 50 large companies (with more than 500 employees) the top ranking organization was Costco, followed by Google and T-Mobile. Costco was ranked A+ by 630 employees that submitted culture ratings in 2018.

Since we understand the importance of company culture, we were interested in learning more. In case you were wondering, this is not a sponsored post.

What role do demographics, team, company and daily life play in building a strong company culture? What steps did Costco take to become the leading US company for company culture in an uncertain time of high turnover, waning loyalty and struggling employee happiness?

What company culture ideas can we take away from the top performing company of 2018?

Company culture ideas from the best company culture of 2018

What makes up a great company culture?

Company culture ideas

First, let’s look at the numbers.

Costco scored an overall 86/100 from 630 anonymous employee reviews. As mentioned, company culture rankings were broken up into:

  • Demographics: diversity, environment, women and retention
  • Team: CEO rating, manager, team, executive team and leadership
  • Company: Outlook, compensation, professional development, perks and benefits
  • Daily life: Office culture, work culture, happiness, meetings and eNPS

For both gender and diversity, Costco scored 86/100—in the top 5 percentile of all large US businesses. Interestingly, women scored the company culture slightly higher than their male coworkers. When it comes to the team, Costco’s CEO, Walter Jelinek, scored 90/100, making him also in the top 5%. Likewise, employee happiness is listed in the top 5 percentile of similar sized US companies, ranking Costco first among competitors.      

  • 86% are proud to be a part of the company
  • 70% are satisfied with their work/life balance
  • 61% have a close friend at work
  • 45% do not feel burnt out at work
  • 55% are bored at work 5% or less of the time
  • 92% look forward to interacting with your coworkers
  • 92% are confident about the future success of their company
  • 80% are typically excited about going to work each day
  • 93% of employees feel they are paid fairly
  • 96% are satisfied with their benefits
  • 88% of Costco employees feel their work environment is positive

Based on the numbers, it sounds like Costco is a happy, well-balanced place to work.

But what do the employees have to say about the company culture?

“The health insurance is so awesome and I am so grateful for it,” one employee with ten years of experience at Costco told the Business Insider.

“The best part about working at Costco is the friendly work environment and the endless career opportunities,” another said with four years of experience.

I love how everyone is your family. I spend a majority of my life at work, so I see them more than my actual family,” said an employee with ten years of experience.

How Costco became the best company culture of 2018

Company culture ideas

“When you look at Costco,” the CEO and founder of Comparably, Jason Nazar told USA Today, “they overwhelm employees with benefits and employees feel like they’re part of a family.”

From 1983 until his retirement in 2011, Costco co-founder and past CEO, James Sinegal focused on cultivating the same company culture that has made them so successful today. Sinegal considered his members’ perspective to ensure that the customer experience was always positive—and part of that was about the people who made up the company.

“No one was going to be able to say we’re making money off the backs of our employees,” said Sinegal, “because we were going to pay the highest wages in all of retail.” By giving 70 cents on every dollar spent by Costco to employee wages, their employee turnover dropped to 7 percent—compared to the 60-70 percent standard at other retailers. Plus, Costco has highly competitive benefits packages, providing a full spectrum of benefits to employees and their families.

Company culture ideas from the best company culture of 2018

Besides giving back to employees, Sinegal founded a company culture of promoting integrity, ownership and motivation among employees—and over to customers who trusted that they always got the best deal.

What are some company culture ideas that we can take away from Costco’s success? Put the customer first and reward your employees.

The fact that Costco’s co-founder spent decades carefully crafting a company culture that values and treats their customers and employees right speaks volumes to having core values ingrained early on—and from the top.

Company culture ideas based on Costco’s values:

  • Put employee wellness (and health benefits etc) first
  • Avoid employee burnout which is costly
  • Build your company culture into the foundation of your business
  • Empower and develop your leaders
  • Find different ways to communicate with and among your employees
  • Support individual employee career growth and honour achievements
  • Create a supportive, friendly work environment
  • Offer exciting and equal opportunities

“I love the fact that while I’m at work, I don’t feel like I’m working. Most of my colleagues are having fun doing what they do every day, which makes for an extremely happy work atmosphere.”—says one employee review.

Sam Milbrath

About Sam

Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and content marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands, she's working on her first novel or exploring nature. Check out her work at www.sammilbrath.com

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