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The 2017 State of Workplace Culture Report

By August 10, 2017 January 3rd, 2022 2 Comments

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In business, the phrase “company culture” is sort of like the word “literally” for Millennials – Widely used, yet highly misunderstood.

To many business leaders, culture can seem like the very definition of the “soft stuff.” They see it as both intangible and not core to their business, and therefore will only have marginal impact on real business outcomes.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. While culture certainly involves intangibles like norms and behavior, culture does have a considerable – and measurable – impact on your business. Culture is arguably at the core of business, and if thoughtfully cultivated, can be one of your company’s most powerful competitive advantages.

And while it’s not easy, crafting the right culture for your business is certainly doable. As our data shows, there are some major opportunities and some definite, concrete steps you can take to get going in the right direction.

Still, when we think about company culture, our understanding is very often undermined by a few stubborn myths about what it is and how it functions within our organizations. Here’s what we mean:


Myth #1 – “Culture” is just a buzzword. It doesn’t really impact the bottom line.

Reality: Culture actually drives performance.

In large part, culture refers to the norms that govern how the people within your organization approach problems and develop solutions. Since all the value in your company is created and managed by people, how they approach their work inevitably impacts their performance – and therefore your company’s bottom line.


Myth #2 – Culture is all about hiring for the “right fit” and finding people who all get along.

Reality: Neither your culture nor your company benefit from an organization of only like-minded people.

In fact the opposite is true. Your organization benefits from a diverse team who bring in outside viewpoints that augment your culture with new ideas, rather than entrench existing biases. Diversity helps you eliminate blind spots and pitfalls like groupthink. Likewise, a healthy level of dissent is necessary to arrive at the right solution, not just the one of least resistance. Think of it this way – culture isn’t the absence of problems, culture is the way you solve problems.

Culture isn’t the absence of problems, culture is the way you solve problems Click To Tweet

Myth #3 – Culture is only relevant for companies in “cool” industries like tech. It doesn’t apply to my company.

Reality: Culture doesn’t discriminate.

The fact is, every organization has a culture, even those that haven’t formally defined it. That’s because workplace culture consists of both the explicit and the implicit, both the written and unwritten rules that govern how your company makes decisions.

It’s also arguably more effective to cultivate a thriving employee culture in the “uncool” industries. A reputation for having a kick-ass culture is going to be a much bigger competitive advantage for an insurance company or real estate brokerage simply because those industries aren’t typically thought of as having cool, employee-centric cultures. (No disrespect.)

Again – every company has a culture. The question is, do you want one that helps your business level-up, or one that holds it back?


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So if that’s what company culture is not, let’s take a deeper look at what culture actually is.

Your organization’s culture consists of the beliefs, values, and behaviors that guide interactions between employees, their managers, and executive leadership.

Culture manifests in observable things like hours, dress code, benefits, workspace, recruiting and retention, and customer care and satisfaction.

Culture is also expressed in less tangible ways – it’s the mood and energy people bring in each day, the language they use with one another, the mindset they adopt, and the methods they use to solve problems.

As you can imagine, the impact of organizational culture is far reaching. Here are the main ways it impacts your company’s bottom line:


Employee engagement is the extent to which your employees are personally involved in the success of your business. Put simpler, it’s how much your employees care about your company, and how that impacts company performance.

This effect has been measured and analyzed for some time now. A recent Gallup report estimates that disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $483 and $605 billion in annual lost productivity.

While not synonymous, employee engagement and culture are certainly linked. Since engagement is largely about how employees feel as they approach their work, a positive culture is fundamental to building an engaged team.


There’s another way to think about the impact of culture on business results, something we’ve coined the “inside-out effect” of culture. Leaders also mistakenly assume that culture is a purely internal phenomena. The thing is, external results are driven by internal cultural norms and behaviors.

This simply means that since your company’s internal culture affects how the people in your organization work, that internal culture inevitably influences your company’s work product, including outward facing things like your brand, product, and customer service.

The essence of culture – and why it’s so important – is that it’s a set of norms that help inform how you make decisions and how you treat people, which inevitably touches every aspect of your business.

Culture isn’t a sideshow or some ancillary concern. It’s actually the heart of your business.


This is precisely the question we set out to answer in this 2017 State of Company Culture Report.

Are companies taking culture seriously, or for granted?

Are they taking real steps to provide a culture that supports their business goals and supports employee engagement, or leaving it to chance?

And are employees responding, or are their efforts ineffective?

Think of this report as the pulse of workplace culture in American business today. In addition to pulling out our main findings, we’ve also identified what we see as the biggest opportunities for companies to improve their cultures, as well as our recommended tactics for seizing those opportunities.

So let’s dive in. Here is SnackNation’s 2017 State of Company Culture Report.




In order to truly gauge the state of company culture in America, we surveyed hundreds of employees representing a wide cross section of American industries.1

All in all, we received 568 responses from workers in 26 different fields. The Medical and Healthcare industry was the most highly represented (10.9%), followed closely by Technology (10.5%) and then Software (7.6%).


Because different departments often provide different experiences for employees within the same company, we also sought out responses from teams from across the organization. Most (27.6%) of our respondents worked within technology teams, followed by administrative professionals (20.8%). Customer service and marketing were the next most commonly represented departments, coming in at 11.8% and 10.4% respectively.


Our study included input from up and down the org chart, from the admin level to the C-suite, though most of our respondents were individual contributors (42%) or managers (41.2%).


When asked about their annual compensation, our survey takers most commonly made between $26,000 and $50,000 (35.9%). This is consistent with the national average, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was $44,148 per year at the end of 2016. More than a quarter (28.5%) of our respondents made between $51,000 – $75,000.

In terms of company size, 73.9% of our respondents work for small businesses (defined as those with less than 500 employees). Within that group, most (15.7%) work at companies with more than 100 but less than 200 employees. 18.8% said that they worked for employers with more than 1,000 workers.


The vast majority of our respondents also work full time in an office, although we did field a significant number (20%) of responses from employees who also worked at least one remote day. 2.3% actually worked remotely 100% of the time. With telecommuting on the rise, we felt that it was important that input from remote employees be considered in the final analysis.


And what does this office look like? A little less than half reported that they worked in an “open office environment” – i.e., one without cubicles or walls dividing desk and workspaces.

So how are these companies doing in the eyes of our survey participants? When it comes to their own assessment of their company’s culture, more than half (54%) characterized it as “strong” or “very strong.”

That’s not to imply that everything is perfect. Nearly a quarter noted that their company’s culture “needs improvement,” and a full 5% went so far as to call their company’s culture “toxic.”


Employees in our survey held relatively high opinions about their companies. 58.2% of respondents rated their company an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10. Only 8.3% rated their company below a 5.


Now that we’ve established the basics, what accounts for these differences in culture and their effectiveness? And what can companies do to provide the culture that benefits both employer and employee alike?

To find out, we asked our participants questions about a number of cultural factors – things like compensation, benefits, communication, hours, etc. Here’s what we found.


A Strong Culture is Vital for Increased Retention

As noted earlier, employee engagement is the extent to which your employees are personally involved in the success of your business. Engaged employees not only work harder and are more productive, but are also more likely to stick with you for the long term.

Neglecting employee engagement is sort of like throwing away money. As we’ve previously mentioned, disengaged employees costs U.S. businesses hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. On the flipside, companies with high engagement outperform competitors in a number categories –
including profits.

Employee engagement is a complex topic, and we certainly can’t hope to cover all the ins-and-outs here, but culture and employee engagement are linked in a few key ways. (For a deeper dive into employee engagement, check out the SnackNation Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement.) Since engagement is largely about how your employees feel about their job, a positive culture can make a big difference in your engagement level. Likewise, high engagement can indicate that your culture is on the right path.

Our data shows that engagement is on the upswing. When asked directly, 78.4% of our respondents felt engaged by their work – an encouraging stat.


One indicator of engagement was the degree to which employees feel challenged in their role. Our data shows that employees who feel challenged in their role are also nearly three times more likely to feel engaged at work.


Employees who feel challenged in their role are also nearly 3x more likely to feel engaged at work Click To Tweet


Managers Should Ask Questions, Not Dictate Answers. When their team comes to them with a problem, many managers see it as their responsibility to solve it for them. But that isn’t always the right tack. Not only will employees be less bought-in to an idea that doesn’t feel like their own, but depriving them the challenge of solving problems can lead to decreased engagement. Instead, managers should ask their teams pointed questions that will help guide them to a solution. This approach challenges them to engage with the problem – and grow in the process.

Have Your Team Set Their Own Goals. Create a goal setting system that gives team members the opportunity to set their own goals. People are more likely to be motivated by a project or goal that they set for themselves, versus one that was set for them by their manager. A good starting point is to allow your team to create a list of goals/projects they want to complete for the upcoming goal period. Here’s an example from a member of our Marketing Team:


Managers should then work with their direct reports to refine that list into goals/projects that align with the department’s (and company’s) goals. Depending on your organization, this could be monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. Once goals have been set, employees break those bigger goals into smaller ones each week. We use a system called Crucial Results to do just that. Here’s how it works.

Managers Need to Assign Challenging Goals. Your managers should also assign challenging goals to their team in order to promote professional development. Start by having managers ask their direct reports where they want to grow, and then develop projects or goals that align with those areas. Examples:

  • Someone wants more leadership responsibilities? Challenge them to deliver a lunch & learn to the team.
  • Is a team member eager to be more involved in writing and communication? Have them write a post for the company blog.
  • Somebody wants to own more tech projects? Let them take lead on implementing a new tech software for the company.

Appreciation is one major factor in engagement. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to feel personally connected to their company’s success, and therefore more willing to go above and beyond in their role.

The simple act of recognizing your employees for a job well done goes a long way towards making them feel appreciated. That being said, nailing the right frequency is the key to making sure this strategy remains effective.

According to research from Gallup, that’s because recognition is fleeting. The little jolt of pleasure we get from being recognized is actually the neurochemical dopamine, which requires weekly (at a minimum) acts of recognition in order to be sustained.

In this regard, employers are falling a little short. Less than a quarter of respondents (23%) said that they were recognized on a weekly basis . Most commonly, employees were recognized every couple of months – not nearly enough.



Crush-It Call. Appreciation has a big impact on engagement, and as we’ve seen recognizing team members for their achievement increases appreciation levels. Bake recognition into your culture by practicing the “Crush-It” call, something we do here at SnackNation on a weekly basis. It goes like this:

Each Friday afternoon, the entire SnackNation team huddles together and we go around the room stating 2 things:

  1. A “Crush” for someone on the team whose work they want to
    recognize and why
  2. Something we are grateful for

It’s a great chance for people to not only recognize each other and take advantage of positive thinking, but also bring that person’s hard work to the attention of the entire team. This video helps break down the concept and gives you tips for launching it at your company


Like culture and engagement, it’s important to note that employee happiness and employee engagement are not synonymous either. Employee happiness is how your employees feel about their jobs. Employee engagement, on the other hand, is how that feeling affects their performance.

Here’s a situation where the difference matters. Consider an employee with a cush job and a high salary. He might be perfectly happy to roll in late every day, fly under the radar while doing very little work, and still collect a hefty paycheck. But by no means can we say that this employee is engaged in his role.

That being said, happiness is still important. While not all happy employees are engaged, all engaged employees are happy, and employee happiness is therefore a good barometer to judge your company’s culture.

So how are companies doing? Relatively well, it turns out. We found that the majority (62%) of employees reported being either “happy” or “very happy.”


75% of our respondents also told us they were “excited” to go into work everyday.


But that’s just part of the picture. What factors affect employee happiness?

Encourage Your Team to Take Vacation – They’ll Be Happier

For starters, we looked at how the number of vacation days that employees take
affects their happiness level.

For context, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that American workers with one year of experience average 10 days of paid vacation per year. With five years experience, that number jumps to 14 days per year, and then up to 17 after ten years of experience.

Of those who were offered 10 or fewer vacation days per year, 44% of our survey respondents reported being either unhappy at work or indifferent to their jobs. But by adding just 1-5 more vacation days, that number drops to around 30%. The takeaway – don’t be stingy with vacation days, as they appear to make a big impact on overall happiness.

Another Factor for Happiness . . . Free Snacks?

Since we’re in the snack game, we were curious – are companies that provide snacks really happier at work?

Our data suggest that they are. 42% of employees whose offices do not have free snacks reported being happy, compared to 58% of employees whose offices do receive free snacks (a 38% increase).


USA Today recently reported that snacks and happiness are linked. We also know from experience that providing nutrition can play a key role in a larger culture of engagement. Not only do healthier snacks give your team a much needed productivity boost throughout the day, they also signal that they’re cared for and appreciated.

(And let’s be real… who doesn’t love free food.)

Long Hours Doesn’t Always Mean Unhappy Campers

How many hours you work also has an impact on employee happiness. According to Gallup, fully employed American workers spend an average of 9.4 hours per day working. In our study, those who worked a standard 9 hour day were actually the least happy group.

The two happiest groups were those at the extreme ends of the spectrum. 80% of the employees who worked six hours or less per day reported being “happy” or “very happy,” while 76% of those who worked twelve hours or more per day said the same.

This finding might seem puzzling on its face, but could very well be the result of highly engaged teams. Engaged employees are both more likely to donate their discretionary time to their job and more likely to report being happy at work.

Professional Growth Can Be a Major Happiness Driver

Perhaps the strongest connection was between professional growth opportunities and employee happiness. Simply put, the more growth opportunities there are, the happier your employers will be. Employees with “a lot” of growth opportunities at their job were nearly three times more likely to report being happy at work than those at companies offering no growth opportunities.


Employees with a lot of growth opportunities are nearly 3x more likely to report being happy at work Click To Tweet


Consider discretionary vacation. Since vacation days and happiness are correlated, why not offer discretionary vacation? Seriously, it can work. As long as employees are hitting their goals and delivering consistently good results, it shouldn’t matter how much vacation they take. Your employees will appreciate the gesture and repay you with higher performance.

Free Snacks. Services like SnackNation are a low cost and hassle-free way to provide a perk that will make an outsized impact. (Shameless plug time: we provide snacks for offices. Click here to get some free snacks for your team.)

Create growth opportunities. Here are our tips to help you foster a culture of growth and development.


Employees Need Tools to Manage Stress – Your Culture Should Provide Them

There’s a silent killer in your workplace. It lurks in the shadows, sapping your energy and shaking your concentration. It’s name is stress, and it’s more harmful than you think. There’s plenty of data that tells us excess stress can cause real physical symptoms – stuff like headaches, increased blood pressure, upset stomach, chest pain, and interrupted sleep. Stress can also trigger or worsen mood disorders like anxiety
and depression.

OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) deemed stress a “hazard of the workplace,” and some estimates say that stress costs us up to $190 billion in annual healthcare costs.

On top of that, a joint team of Harvard and Stanford researchers looked at data from the General Social Survey and the American Community Survey and found that stressful jobs might actually lower your life expectancy. (Yikes!)

In general, most of our participants reported moderate stress levels. Most reported being “somewhat stressed” (30%), and the vast majority (81%) falling in what we deem a zone of healthy stress.

A few did report extreme levels of stress. 7% told us that they were “very stressed.” Almost twice as many (12%) told us they were “not stressed at all,” and while that might seem encouraging, that level of stress probably means that their role isn’t pushing them to grow – which doesn’t bode well for neither employer nor employee in the long run.


What effect does this have on your team? Well, stressed employees are less likely to be happy. Our data showed that employees who don’t feel stressed at are more than twice as likely to report being happy in their role.


Our data also suggests that a focus on engagement can reduce stress in the workplace. Respondents who reported not feeling stressed at work were 59% more likely to be engaged in their role than those who were.


When it comes to stress, one major assumption is that the more we work, the more stress we feel. But is this really true?

For the most part, the data supports this idea. When we looked at how the length of your workday affects your stress, we saw a fairly strong correlation. For the most part, the more you work, the more stress you experience. For instance, those who worked an 11 hour day were nearly three times more likely to feel stressed at work than those who worked an eight hour day.


On the face of it, this might seem a tad puzzling – recall that this same group also reported higher happiness levels. But it’s important to keep in mind that stress and happiness can coincide. Eustress (or “the good stress”) can actually be a motivating factor, and is more prevalent with engaged employees (i.e., employees who put it in long hours).

One major exception was employees who worked twelve or more hours a day (i.e. workaholics). Their stress level was on par with those who worked a more standard nine hour day. Again, this could be related to highly engaged employees who work longer hours, but actually experience less stress.


Incorporate stress management. Remember some stress is inevitable, even beneficial. The key is to help employees manage it so that their stress doesn’t become debilitating. Make stress management a part of your company’s culture by providing tools like weekly mindfulness and meditation, yoga, or group fitness activities, all of which have been proven to reduce stress. Want more tips? Check out our guide to reducing stress at work.


Facetime with Managers Helps Foster a Culture of Trust

Strong leadership is a must when it comes to culture. High level leaders like CEOs and heads of HR are instrumental in setting the tone for your company’s culture.

How are company’s top leaders doing in the eyes of their most important stakeholders?

Our CEOs received relatively high marks. 57.4% of respondents rated their company’s CEO either an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10. However, around 14% rated their CEO lower than a 5 on this scale, so there is certainly room for improvement.


We’ve also written fairly often about the importance of good managers. While strong executive leadership is important for things like setting the company vision and for developing values and other cultural norms, it is most often middle management who interact with the majority of employees in your organization. As such, middle managers are a direct link between the high ideas of the C-suite and employees’ actual everyday experience.

Bottom line – if you want a strong culture, you need a strong relationship between managers and their direct reports.

Our data was encouraging. A strong majority (60.2%) of respondents rated their boss either an 8, 9, or 10 out of 10. Only 14% rated their boss lower than a 5.

Trust was also high in management among survey participants. When asked whether or not they trusted their boss, the vast majority (80.2%) said that they did. Likewise, 75% responded that they trusted their leadership team as well.


One explanation could be because employees are meeting with their managers on a fairly regular basis.

More than half (56.1%) reported having a one-on-one meeting at least once a week with their manager.


When it comes to receiving constructive feedback, there’s room for improvement. While once a week was the most common response at around 24%, an alarming 36% of respondents reported receiving feedback either once a year or never.


Your employees crave more feedback, but you're likely not giving it to them regularly enough Click To Tweet

Employees also reported being comfortable enough to speak truthfully to their managers. When asked if they felt comfortable giving their boss negative feedback, most (70%) said yes.



Commit to weekly one-on-one meetings. A culture of trust is directly impacted by the amount of facetime managers give their direct reports. Make one-on-one meetings a regular practice in your culture to help foster that trust. Here’s our guide for making the most out of your one-on-one direct report meetings.

Hold office hours. For high level leadership like CEOs, facetime with your employees might not seem feasible, but there’s a way to make it happen. Set aside a few hours a month (or week!) for Office Hours – time when employees can meet with you face-to-face to discuss any issues of their choosing. Hey, it worked for your favorite professor back in college, right?


Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

No problem – we’ll send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let us know where to send it:

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Use Compensation to Connect Individual Contribution to Company Success

Let’s face it, in the old days, the mindset of most employers was that compensation should be enough.

Employees are being paid a salary. Shouldn’t that be enough? Or so the thinking goes. In this paradigm, compensation is sort of like the “antidote” to a poor culture. Employees might, for instance, put up with a bruising culture if the pay is high enough. Or if a company is plagued by low morale, an employer might start by offering spot bonuses or raises rather than by taking a hard look at the company’s basic culture.

But is this really the right tack? Is there a link between culture and compensation, and if so, how might employers tap into it?

In order to begin to answer these questions, we looked at the way that one’s salary affects happiness to see if there was a link between sentiment and compensation.

It turns out that compensation does affect employee happiness, but not in the way one might expect. Instead of a direct correlation between salary and happiness, respondents who made the least reported being happier than those who made more than three times as much.

Happiness levels peaked with employees who made between $56-70k. 71% of employees in this range stated that they were either “happy” or “very happy” in their current role. After that, happiness mostly dropped off.

This finding is consistent with a 2010 study by Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman. In it, the pair demonstrated that money doesn’t contribute to our overall happiness beyond $75,000.


The numbers spin a simpler tale when you consider not just how much employees make, but how they perceive the fairness of their pay.

Two thirds of our participants responded that they do believe that they are paid fairly. But those who believe they are not paid fairly were nearly 37% less likely to report being “happy” or “very happy.”



Whether or not employees feel appreciated impacts the perception of fair pay. Employees were 72% more likely to feel they’re being paid fairly if they felt appreciated at work.

Compensation plays a role in employee motivation, but it’s not as dominant as you might think. When asked to name the main reason why they worked at their current company, growth opportunities and comfort and familiarity were nearly as common (22%) as compensation and benefits (27%).


Of course, salary isn’t the only way to compensate employees. Employee ownership programs like employee stock option plans (ESOPs) are a great way to give employees some skin in the game.

In a nutshell, ESOPs give employees the right (not the obligation) to purchase future shares in the company at current valuations. For this reason, they are most commonly deployed in growth-stage businesses, where there is the potential for big upside. With a good lawyer and the right type incorporation, they are relatively easy to set up.

While they might not be right for every business, these types of programs give employees a real ownership stake in the company, and create a sense of common purpose. Unfortunately, the vast majority of companies don’t offer employee stock. More than 70% of our respondents said that employee stock was not an option at their company.



Create an Employee Stock Option Plan. Generally speaking, compensation matters culturally insofar as helps employees connect their own success to the success of the business. There’s no better to do that than by creating the opportunity for employees to actually own a stake in the company – and hopefully make a little extra cash as the company becomes more and more successful. This guide can help you determine what’s possible at your company.

Award Performance Bonuses. If an ESOP isn’t right for you (a real possibility), performance bonuses are another way to connect company success and individual contribution. Start by identifying key metrics that both help the business and that your employee has some control over. Determine a benchmark, and reward that employee when they achieve it.


Deploy Benefits That Support the Culture Your Company Needs

Like culture itself, benefits have been thought of as an ancillary concern. But with a new generation of Millennial workers dominating the workforce, all that is changing.

In 2015, Millennials (roughly defined as individuals who were born in the early 1980s through the mid 1990s and who began entering the workforce in the early 2000s) became the biggest segment of the U.S. labor force for the first time in history. Industries around the country have struggled to adapt to the expectations of Millennial talent, who are more interested in overall quality of life than “work/life” balance, who see salary as a threshold not a scorecard, and who value how (and with whom) they spend their time more than anything else.

The net effect has been that benefits are now a much larger part of the conversation, and companies are raising the bar when it comes to benefit packages. In order to stay competitive, companies in just about every industry have to step up their benefits game.

The data bears this out. A recent industry study found that nearly half of respondents would weigh company benefits and perks, including the availability of snacks, in their decision to find their next job.

To clarify, by “benefits” we simply mean all the non-monetary perks you offer employees. That’s everything from a healthcare plan to free beer on Fridays.

There’s a lot to choose from, and what your company chooses to offer says a lot about your culture.

Benefits are an opportunity to make good on the promise of your values and culture, and to make your culture real for your employees.

So how are companies doing?

In terms of offerings, our data found that most companies are really only providing the basics. Nearly 90% of employers offer health insurance – which isn’t all that surprising since the U.S. system basically relies on American business to subsidize healthcare. After that, 70% of employers offer a 401(k) or other retirement fund matching.


After that, things fall off precipitously. For instance, only 43% offer paid paternity or maternity leave, and only 14% offer unlimited vacation.

Fair enough. Employers can’t be expected to offer every perk, but they should offer the perks that are important to their employees and that support the culture that they want to cultivate.

To see how companies fared in that regard, we then looked at the frequency of these perks compared to how employees ranked them in order of importance. There we found a few glaring inconsistencies.


Take professional development. 80% of our respondents said that some form of professional development was either “important” or “very important” to them. Yet only a little over half of companies actually offer professional development.

As we’ve mentioned above, free snacks are an easy way to increase retention, productivity, and happiness at work, yet less than half of companies actually provide snacks for their workers.

Similarly, paid maternity and paternity leave was another big miss for companies. It was the sixth most important perk on our list (out of 15), yet again, less than half of companies provide it.

But offering flexible hours is perhaps the biggest opportunity in the benefits space. While it was ranked the third most important perk by our respondents, only 46% of the companies in our survey offer it.

Big opportunity in employee benefits: 87% of people want flexible work hours but only 46% of companies offer it Click To Tweet


Flexible Hours. Consider adding flexible hours or remote days to your company’s list of benefits. Having some control over their schedule is something that employees want, but that few actually get. Baking in some flexibility to the way your team works could give your team a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.

Worried about productivity? One tactic is to make flex hours an earned privilege for your top performers. Offer flexible work hours or remote days as a reward for employees who accomplish 90% of their goals or higher. This incentivizes your team to work efficiently while in the office, while earning the trust to be self-directed at least part of the time.


A Diverse Team is Good for Your Business, But Most Companies
Have a Ways to Go

For some, diversity and company culture might seem at odds with each other. If culture is about creating a team with a common set of beliefs, wouldn’t a diverse team undermine that?

It turns out that the opposite is true – diversity is actually essential to culture.

Setting aside the fact that diversity speaks to our innate senses of fair play and equality, diversity matters because it contributes to the core of culture – problem solving. With a diverse workforce, you increase the number of perspectives that you can use to attack the problems facing your business. Without one, you risk creating an echo chamber that amplifies biases and can develop major blindspots.

There’s data to support this idea. A 2015 McKinsey study found a strong link between diversity and performance. According to their research, gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform competitors, while ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform competitors.

Our data shows that there’s ample room for improvement when it comes to creating a culture of diversity and inclusivity. In general terms, more than a quarter of respondents said that they do not work in a diverse workplace. Not surprisingly, 87% of that group wish it were more diverse.


When we delved into the issue of gender diversity in leadership, results were not encouraging. More than a quarter reported that 10% or fewer of their leaders were women. A strong majority (63%) told us that women held 40% or fewer of the leadership roles in their company.

Women are greatly underrepresented in leadership roles at companies Click To Tweet

Since women make up more than half of the population and about 47% of the workforce (according to the U.S. department of labor), there’s clearly more work to be done in this regard.


Why does this matter? When women are underrepresented in leadership roles, it can send a signal that the “glass ceiling” is very much in effect. This can have a chilling effect on morale and motivation.

Here’s another reason. Employee engagement software maker TINYpulse recently demonstrated that growth-stage companies with women at the helm also grew faster. According to their data, growing startups with female founders “almost universally outperformed their male-only counterparts. The fastest-growing companies… are 75% more likely to have a female founder.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, our data shows that whether you’re a man or a woman influences how you interpret the effect of your gender on your prospects in the workplace. For instance, 75% of men feel that one’s gender does not influence whether or not you’re likely to get a promotion, yet only 62% of women held the same belief.


Develop an Equal Employment Opportunity Plan. 27% of our participants reported that they didn’t work in a diverse environment, and women remain underrepresented in leadership roles. A problem like this won’t fix itself. Get proactive by gauging the diversity of your staff, and then creating a formal diversity policy in line with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines.


Culture Figures Highly in Retention

Since people are everything in business, whether or not you can hold on to your best people should be a major concern.

The first question we asked is, why do employees leave companies in the first place? When asked why they might hypothetically leave their current employer most respondents replied because they are underpaid (23%).

It’s perhaps unsurprising that compensation figured high on the list. As we’ve already seen, salary inevitably drives some of the decisions that employees make in their careers.

But we also know that money isn’t the end all be all. When looked at the subset of respondents who said that they were being paid fairly, we found that company instability would be the strongest reason for leaving (26%), followed closely by lack of career advancement (23%), and then a negative work environment or culture (17%).


We also compared how employees characterized their company’s culture in light of their willingness to leave for a raise elsewhere, and our data shows that a positive culture can make your employees less susceptible to the allure of higher pay.

Nearly all (93%) of the respondents who said that they worked in a “toxic” workplace culture would leave for a raise. But compare that to those who characterized their culture as “very strong.” In that instance, only 34% of respondents would consider leaving their current company for more money elsewhere.


The takeaway? A strong culture fosters loyalty and helps with retention.

93% of workers working in a toxic culture will leave for a 20% pay raise. Time to strengthen your company culture Click To Tweet



Survey Your Team. A simple and discreet way you can measure how likely your team is going to stick around is by asking them to rate your culture from 1-5. The higher your rating, the likelier they are to stay. You could even take this a step further by asking your team to explain why they gave the rating they did. This gives you a chance to get valuable feedback on how to improve the culture at your company. This probably goes without saying, but make sure to keep these surveys anonymous to avoid skewed data

Here are some ways we’ve created a unique culture at SnackNation:

  • New Hire Intros. Watch them in action here.
  • Culture Committee – We have a voluntary Culture Committee that meets every Thursday at 2pm. There’s a “representative” from every department on this committee, and they come together to brainstorm fun company events, determine what’s working and what’s not, and identify where there needs to be more transparency in the company.
  • Open Q&A – Our CEO and President hold a monthly open Q&A where they answer questions submitted anonymously from employees across the company.
  • Leadership and Management Forum – We have a bi-weekly forum where the Managers and Directors on our team meet for 1 hour to discuss various people issues they’re having in order to get feedback from the other leaders in the group. This is especially useful for teams with younger leaders.
  • The “Crush It Call”Here’s a recording of one of our infamous Crush It Calls at SnackNation.
  • Sensei Sessions/ Lunch & LearnsHere’s a clip from one of our Sensei Sessions at SnackNation HQ called “Your Brain at Work”.
  • Volunteer Days – One day each quarter, our team heads down to the LA Regional Food Bank to support our charitable partner Feeding America by packing meals for local families.


Growth opportunities are another major factor in retention. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more unappealing to career-minded folks than the idea of a “dead-end job.”

A tangible path for advancement and career development is crucial to combatting this. The bottom line is, your employees don’t feel like they are growing both personally and professionally, they’ll be less inclined to stick with you over time.

So how are companies faring in the growth game?

Only 40% of our respondents reported having significant growth opportunities at their employment. What’s worse, 17% reported that there were no growth opportunities at all.


Growth is also tied to employee happiness. As we covered earlier, only 28% of respondents who reported having no growth opportunities also said they were happy at work. Compare that to 83% happiness score for employees whose companies offer ample growth opportunities.

In this sense, growth is another means that companies who want to create a happier workforce and more positive culture.

One way to foster growth is to set motivating stretch goals. These are goals that are just beyond a team’s or an individual’s capacity, and therefore force them to grow in order to hit that goal.

We asked our participants how often they set goals within their teams, and a good chunk set them on either a monthly or quarterly basis. 32% of respondents reported setting goals either once or twice a year. However, an astonishing 14% of respondents said that they never set clear goals with their manager.



Launch an Individual Development Plan. Professional growth figures highly in retention. Make sure you’re addressing employee growth with IDPs – Individual Development Plans. This blog post has some best practices for launching IDPs.


Good cultures don’t happen by accident. They take people who care. You deserve a big shout out, not just for making it to the end of this report, but for caring enough about culture to pick it up in the first place.

Ok, now that you’ve been hit with this giant fire hose of data, let’s pause and consider our original question:

Are companies doing enough to curate a culture that’s right for them? 

Since people are everything in business, whether or not you can hold on to your best people should be a major concern.

While we found much that encouraged us, there is still plenty of room for growth. Recall that nearly a quarter of our respondents noted that their company’s culture “needs improvement,” and a full 5% labeled their company’s culture “toxic.”

Luckily there are some major opportunities that most companies just aren’t taking advantage of yet, meaning improvement is a real possibility.

Here again are the biggest opportunities based on our findings:

  1. Flexible Hours. Your employees want it. Most aren’t getting it.
  2. Free Snacks. This is an easy one, and they make a difference.
  3. Employee Growth Opportunities. Growth makes employees happier, more engaged, and more likely to stick around. Launch an Individual Development Plan to ensure that you’re taking care of employee growth. Motivating stretch goals are another way to ensure employee growth and development.
  4. Diversity. Most companies aren’t taking diversity as seriously as they should. Be proactive here or else risk a culture that amplifies biases.
  5. Facetime with Employees. Hold regular one-on-ones with direct reports and/or hold office hours to foster a culture of trust and transparency.
  6. Profit Sharing. More than 70% of companies don’t offer stock or equity options. Give employees skin in the game with an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) or other profit sharing program.
  7. Survey your team. The best place to start is by listening. Send out an employee culture survey to help learn where your culture is strong and where it needs improving. Surveymonkey or Google Surveys make this incredibly easy to do. winning cultures and awesome offices.

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?

No problem – we’ll send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let us know where to send it:

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