Ping Pong and Pop are not in a Recipe for Company Culture

I get it. You want to recruit the best talent for your company. I too want to work with the best people in the world. And so your C-suite execs, HR team and other leaders work to build a company culture that will attract the best of the best. They create an inviting welcome area and stock the kitchen with snacks, treats and goodies galore. Set up a game room that would make any 14-year-old green with envy. Yet despite their good intent…something gets lost.

Why? Because the culture of your company can’t be built around a ping pong table.

Company Culture is more than Fun and Games

Of the 142,000 items in an average Wal-Mart, a ping pong table is at least one of those…perhaps many. But, of that same 142,000 items, there’s one thing you just can’t pick up and buy—culture. Because culture isn’t that simple.

Beyond the investment in your mission statement, your values and your training efforts, lies something most companies want, but don’t put the thought to. That, again, is culture.

I realize you can catch more flies with honey. In fact, you can see me playing a game of ping pong every once and again (and my backhand isn’t too bad by the way). But, I don’t wake up at 4:00am every morning just to play ping pong. Nor, do I feel motivated to jump out of bed because I can’t wait to put that can of soda in my left hand and tub of pretzels and hummus in my right.

What gets me out of bed is this belief: When I was little my mom, friends and teachers told me I could change the world. There is no reason anything in this world has to be the way it is. Going to the DMV? Can be better. Getting support from your ISP? Can be way better. A car-infotainment system that feels trapped in the 90s? Could be a lot better.

The Right Company Culture Includes a Purpose that Motivates Its People

The mindset amongst your newest group of employees is changing. Gone is the notion that one is solely grateful just to be “working here.” Millennials are often insatiable in their appetite for work and reward. They think, “Why should I keep working here? What is this company offering me that the one next door can’t?”

Like other Millennials, I’m hungry for more than the pretzels. It’s the work that I’m really craving. I want my work to matter. I want my company to have a purpose that I can get behind and know that my hard work is making a difference to accomplish that goal. And, I want to do it in a way where I’m encouraged to be creative, collaborative and cared for.

Build Your Company Culture For Your People

The couch doesn’t breed creativity—leaders do.
The coffee doesn’t breed collaboration—coworkers do.
The Cheetos don’t breed compassion—managers do.

If your people would appreciate the release, the fun and the camaraderie—go for the ping pong table. In a company like mine, perhaps it just might be the thing. But, it by itself isn’t the magic bullet. What really represents your company culture is a different type of noun. Not a thing—but people.

Culture is how I’m treated at work, how I’m allowed to work, how I feel when I work, how I’m rewarded for my work and what “is” the work.

People over perks. Not the other way around.

What type of culture do you thrive in—and how are you pushing your company to get there?

I’m a part of the millennial group and am always hungry for feedback. What did I miss about engaging millennials in learning and development? What are your experiences? Send me a note at with your thoughts.

September 21, 2017


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