What You Can Learn From Some of the Best Company Cultures in America

From emotional team building talks to a dunk tank reserved for the boss, here's how these employers keep their teams happy.
What You Can Learn From Some of the Best Company Cultures in America
Image credit: Courtesy of Power Home Remodeling Group
7 min read

This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Company culture can make or break a business. We talked to some of the winners of our Top Company Culture Awards to understand how they've perfected their own in-office vibes. View the complete list of winners here.

Related: What Company Culture Is Really About

Goosehead Insurance

Career Development from Day 1

From the minute an employee steps into Goosehead Insurance’s office, the company wants them thinking about their future. Female staffers, for example, are invited to join the Women’s Professional Development Program, which provides face time with fellow employees and top-level female executives (including the founder) to discuss everything from work-life integration and time management to relationship development. If group sessions aren’t your thing, execs offer scheduled one-on-ones. “It’s important to have a support system for female workers and to empower them to become successful, find career satisfaction and create those leadership opportunities,” says Shana Capodagli, manager of human capital. “So we go out of our way to offer that to our people.” 

The Jellyvision Lab

The Case for Unlimited Vacation 

Jellyvision Lab’s official policy technically isn’t one of unlimited vacation. Instead, the software company simply doesn’t have a vacation policy. “People will ask me, ‘Can you give me a loose idea of how much time to take?’ And I say no, because that would be a policy,” says CEO Amanda Lannert. But her point isn’t really about vacation; plenty of other companies have flexible policies. To her, it’s about balance. “We’re really trying to kill the notion of face time,” she says. “If you’re in a bad mood, or it’s a beautiful day outside, don’t be at work. Talk to your manager, talk to your team, take care of yourself. We want your good work, not your time.” 

Related: Company Culture Comes From Good Leadership

Power Home Remodeling Group

Best. Staff. Retreat. Ever.

Power Home Remodeling takes “work happy hour” to the next level. Each year, so long as the company collectively hits a predetermined set of goals, all 2,400 employees are invited to spend four days in Cancún, along with a plus-one, for an all-expenses-paid vacation and off-site. “We leave a lot of downtime -- it gives people a chance to mix and mingle, and it’s a good opportunity to meet and chat with our leadership team,” says Michelle Bauer, VP of public relations. But even the corporate-sanctioned programming sounds like a party: The Power Olympics feature jousting and gladiator competitions, and a yearly concert draws surprisingly big headliners for a home remodeling company. “Last year Ja Rule, Ashanti, Nelly and T.I. performed just for our guests,” Bauer says. Past performers include Snoop Dogg and Flo Rida. “Apparently we’re a very fun crowd to play to. And we have an amazing events team that produces really beautiful stage setups. It’s not like we’re asking these artists to perform in a hotel ballroom.” Fun and games aside, the annual trip -- which started in 2012 -- has become a valuable part of the company’s culture even back at its 14 offices. “It helps people know they’re cared for,” Bauer says. “And it’s a great recruiting tool -- it helps get people in the door.” 


A Holistic View of Health

After hearing that a good chunk of his employees enjoyed yoga and meditation outside the office, Zurixx COO Andrew Way implemented a unique wellness package that encouraged them to bring their healthy habits to work. “When I was young, I got sick of the ‘Work hard, play hard’ thing,” says Way. To avoid employee burnout, he took some leftover office space and turned it into a meditation and yoga room with weekly classes, stocked the break room with healthy snacks and started offering free spa treatments twice a month.  “We want our people to know that their health and well-being are important to us,” says Way, who discovered an unexpected perk: the new programs strengthened the team bond. “They felt like it increased the quality of work because they were more centered, available and felt the commitment from us,” he says.

N2 Publishing

Taking It Out on the Boss

At N2 Publishing’s annual field day -- which consists of tug-of-war, dizzy bat, and other throwback picnic games -- CEO Duane Hixon loves to make himself a target. He’s known to subject himself to the “dump tank” (water is poured on him from an overhead toilet), and each time the target is hit, he donates money to a charity that fights human trafficking. Last year he took it a step further: While dressed as the company mascot, Koala T. Bear, he allowed staffers to slingshot tomatoes at him. “If you hit him in the head, he gave $1,000 to charity. If you hit him on the body, it was $500,” says Katherine Daniel, N2’s director of people operations. “He’s playful and competitive, which is fun for our team, but it’s nice to know there’s a big-picture element to it.” Over the past two years, the company donated $50,000 as a result of field days. 

Scribe Media

They Get Personal

“Funerals are a dumb custom,”  says Scribe CEO J.T. McCormick. “People say all these nice things about someone, but in most cases, that person never heard those nice things when they were alive!” He wants his team to have that fulfillment now. So at a biannual all-team retreat in Austin, Tex., Scribe Media employees get personal. They call their two-day exercise “Strengths and Obstacles,” and it celebrates each team member while inviting them to overcome hurdles both professional and personal. Each employee identifies areas in which they’re struggling, and the group helps them through it. The exercise is opt-in, and McCormick says participants find it transformative. “Back in the office, we understand each other more.”

Related: A Strong Company Culture Is Key for Long-Term Success

Actualize Consulting

Helping the Community Succeed

Actualize Consulting is all about paying it forward. “We feel we have a responsibility to our community,” says Theresa Santoro, senior manager of HR and operations. “We are a family, and service is something we can do together.” The company partners with the Doe Fund, a local nonprofit that helps the homeless and formerly incarcerated rebuild their lives by teaching them practical skills. Actualize employees have led mock interviews and provided résumé feedback to men hoping to reenter the workforce. “It inspired me to do this not only with the people at the Doe Fund but with candidates who apply to Actualize,” says Santoro. “Perhaps a candidate who isn’t the right fit can use the same guidance for the future. It carries over.”

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