Company Culture

Why This Ad Agency Makes Every New Hire Climb Mount Fuji

Why This Ad Agency Makes Every New Hire Climb Mount Fuji
Image credit: comm604 | Foap.com
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Company culture remains the buzzword of the moment. From quirky free perks to team vacations to regular office happy hours, businesses are attempting all kinds of strategies to forge bonds between employees in order to create a collective sense of identity that links its organization.

The Japanese advertising agency Dentsu takes this strategy to a whole new level – quite literally. AdAge reports that the agency, one of the largest in the world, has a longstanding tradition that every able-bodied new hire and newly promoted executive must climb Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.

According to the outlet, since 1925, each July a group of fresh employees and executives starts the 12,388-foot trek in the afternoon, hikes through the night and reaches the summit around sunrise.

Related: Culture Eats Technology for Lunch

Christopher Demetrakos is a former employee who worked at Dentsu for 13 years. He sees the annual climb as a tangible symbol of the company’s ambition to reach new heights together, as a team.

"The message is, 'We are going to conquer the one symbol that represents Japan more than anything else," he told the outlet. "And, 'once we do that, it will signify that we can do anything.'"

For such a large organization – 6,200 employees work out of the company’s Tokyo headquarters – enacting an extreme bonding experience makes a kind of sense. Hiking through the night with your coworkers will likely lead to more memorable shared experiences than a tepid welcome office happy hour.

Perhaps it’s working: Dentsu’s global expansion push is paying off, AdAge reports. Its revenues inside and outside Japan are now about equal, a longtime goal for the agency.

Related: Suits and Ties Be Damned: Bringing Startup Culture to Big Business