Transparency and authenticity are driving forces in marketing today. Technology has pulled back the curtain and subjected brands to more scrutiny than ever before. The online research tools and social networks used by consumers give them more than just access to information about products and services, but glimpses of the inner workings of companies and brands themselves.

Not only do the customers want to know about the processes that make your product or service possible (e.g. are they ethical, sustainable, and efficient), they are interested in how happy (or unhappy) your employees are.

Opening Up

Egon Zehnder

Like a restaurant with an open kitchen, seeing the behind-the-scenes activity instills confidence. You can notice for yourself if the countertops are clean, if the staff is well managed, and how smoothly the operation runs.

When everyone has some kind of social network, it’s just about impossible to hide a struggling corporate culture. Dissatisfied employees flock to job review sites like Glassdoor to anonymously make public their grievances. Less circumspect team members may even air your dirty laundry on their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Organizational culture and brand are becoming intertwined, which is why more and more marketing executives are engaging with human resource departments at high levels to creative a positive work environment.

Happy Employees Create Happy Customers

There are many ways to improve employee morale. Some companies invest in gourmet cafeterias, generous health plans, flexible schedules, or other perks. Those certainly don’t hurt, but the number one thing that companies with stellar cultures say makes a difference is ensuring that their employees feel like they have a voice and can trust the people they work for.

The Wegman’s brand is renowned not only for its well-run supermarkets, but for its extremely satisfied employees. The company is the highest ranked retailer on Fortune’s list of the best places in America to work for and has made the list for 20 consecutive years.

According to CEO Danny Wegman, they credit their success in the supermarket business to their ability to create a positive work environment:

“When our people feel cared about and respected, they turn around and make our customers feel that way too.”

Pride and Purpose

Another major factor is the sense of purpose they feel. According to Steve Howe of professional services firm Ernst & Young:

“To improve its culture, a company must first define its purpose: Why does it exist, and what greater good does it serve?”

Take Google (number one one Fortune’s list), an employee reported to Glassdoor,“Everyone at Google is sharp and inspired to build great things,” which fits perfectly with the company’s stated goal for its people to: Do Cool Things That Matter.

Customers feel better about transacting with companies like that because they can see that their ethos and messaging is backed with real world action.

A survey by global executive search firm Egon Zehnder of 80 senior marketing leaders found that nearly 95% believed their company’s perceived culture affected customers buying decisions, but only 60% thought their current culture was supporting their brand.

Conclusion

A pernicious corporate culture puts a pallor on everything you do, and makes it hard to attract new talent. But, companies with satisfied employees find the best talent seeks them out, and they build an organic source of promotion where the internal members spread the positive buzz to the outside world.

Weak corporate cultures are a drain on productivity and growth, but build a culture that supports your brand vision and you create a virtuous cycle of accomplishment.