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The HR director's guide to building culture beyond benefits

When some think “culture,” they think “benefits.” But it’s so much bigger than that.

A positive culture happens when you align your cultural values and your business strategy. Everything else—including benefits—are designed to reinforce the behaviors that are key to your success. Here are four steps to build culture beyond benefits:

1. Establish your values.

What are your principles, philosophies, and values? If your principle is to deliver results at all costs, you may not have a lot of respect between coworkers. If you value innovation and agility, that’s a different expectation than quality assurance. Get clear on your values so you can establish everything else—benefits, performance management, etc.

2. Set the tone for respect

Setting the tone for respect for each other leads to better decision-making and healthy conflict—ultimately allowing work to be done and for people to fail fast and learn from it. Respect is established by example and expectation: Your teammates and colleagues should be as important as your customers.

3. Be willing to disagree and commit.

When employees are at odds with one another over a decision, it sabotages culture and performance. Set the expectation that it’s okay to disagree—but after a decision is made, you need to commit.

4. Measure against your values.

Values need to be more than a page on your website; they need to be lived out in your organization. The best way to ensure this happens is to measure against your company’s values. Consider ways to recognize and reward employees for embodying your core values (e.g., creating a compensation strategy that rewards employees who live your values).

Putting these four steps into action will help you develop a company culture that goes beyond benefits and attracts and retains top talent.