Corporate Culture Shines Light on Character

Written by
Laura Francis

A Peek Inside the Culture at a Mentoring Organization

Best WorkplaceIn the unending war for talent, one factor that organizations use to set themselves apart is their culture. We’re the fun company! We’re the place to work if you want to get ahead. We’re the company with perks you’ve never thought about needing and no titles to bog you down. We’re the firm where all self-respecting [insert job category here] work.

Whatever their spiel is, companies do their best to tell people what makes them unique. The ways companies try to set themselves apart is numerous and at times enlightening. But what I’ve found is that many companies try to control the narrative of their company culture, which in and of itself says something about their company culture.

To me, culture is the heart of the company and is made up of the character of the employees at all levels. It manifests itself in how employees act, how they treat clients and coworkers alike, the overall vibe of the office, and in how leadership treats their employees. It is not a statement on a website, but a demonstration of values.

Team buildingI have the great fortune to work with some amazing people who have all had a hand in building a corporate culture that is open, caring, fun, and supportive. It feels like a family at times. My colleagues act thoughtfully, kindly, and generously. Their character shines through in their actions, and that is what makes our corporate culture.

Last week, a coworker called me to let me know we were going to be changing health insurance. While this may not seem all that critical to some of you, to me it is monumental. I have a 6-year-old son with cerebral palsy and a host of other health and developmental issues. Changing insurance could throw a pretty big wrench into the constant care he needs from a slew of doctors, specialists, and therapists. But because of who my colleagues are, their first thought was of my son. They knew this could be a hurdle for us, and they wanted to be sure there would be no problems with my son continuing to see the people he needs. Their first thought wasn’t about money or convenience; it was about a human being.

Because of their thoughtfulness and kindness, I was able to investigate the new insurance option and check to see if all of my son’s providers are covered. To the folks at River, it was a no-brainer to call me and check with me before going forward (one of the perks of working for a small company, I’d say). They instinctively put others first and ensured my family’s needs would be met. That is the type of culture we have here. That is the heart of River—people who care.

So much attention is given to the cool new perk companies can offer their employees, or to the latest fad they can jump on to attract and retain people. But I believe that treating people fairly and humanely is the best perk of all. The rest of the stuff—all the perks and trends—flows from there. When we start seeing people as human beings rather than assets, we start treating them as such. Knowing that I work for a company that has character is a priceless perk and one I am proud to contribute to.

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