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Win big with your company culture—3 ways SMG does it

Mary Widmer | May 22, 2017 Mary Widmer 05/22/17

SMG is in the business of helping our clients build great customer and employee experiences and inspiring loyalty. We know we can’t tell our clients much about how to retain customers and employees if we didn’t work on retaining our own. We take a deliberate approach to developing a strong company culture because we know that satisfied customers start with satisfied employees. Here are a few ways we do it.

Hiring for keeps

Your company culture can look great on paper—mission statements, work perks, a list of core values, etc.—but it means nothing without employees who are willing to maintain it. Building a great team is essential to creating and keeping the values of the company intact. And hiring for the culture you want to build is the first step.

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Our hiring process is incredibly rigorous. We want to hire an all-hands-on-deck team, willing to go above and beyond at every opportunity. Every job candidate takes an assessment to help us gauge how well their attitude and values mesh with ours. One of the final steps in our process includes a project or presentation based on a task common to the role. That’s a terrifying experience for a lot of prospects, but it helps us pull in people who are hard-working, go-getters, and attracted to challenges.

On purpose

Building a company culture isn’t a passive action that works in the background—it takes conscious effort and intentionality. One of our annual themes was On Purpose, and the idea has stuck with us. When it comes to decisions that impact our organization, we strive to have every decision tied back to purpose. 

When making cultural decisions, we try to always ask the tough questions —What does SMG value? Does this decision reflect those values? How will it impact the culture we’ve established? Are we only holding onto this practice because it’s what we’ve always done, or because it’s worth it? Organizational decisions are made through the lens of purpose and intention—and that helps keep our culture strong. 

Buy the bike

Employee health and wellness are a big priority at SMG. A number of year ago, to encourage participation in a city-wide corporate triathlon event, leadership made the decision to buy a bicycle for  those who chose to participate—the fewer excuses the better. The real results went beyond an increase in participation and definitely delighted us. Not only do we continue to have better participation in the event than other companies involved, but buying the bike has encouraged so many of our employees to get in shape and stay in shape long after the challenge is over. 

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Since then, the phrase “buy the bike” has taken on an even bigger meaning at SMG. We apply it to decisions that require us to be all-in. Taking big leaps can pay off in lasting and unexpected ways, and the willingness to take a risk when it counts can make the most meaningful difference. When we know a decision is the right thing to do for our organization, we go all in.

Investing pays off

Building a company culture isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Keep your values simple, build a great team, make choices on purpose, and take good risks. A strong company culture keeps your employees invested and helps you focus on furthering your business.

Want to learn more about what company culture means to SMG? Check it out here.

Mary Widmer
Chief Strategic Officer