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What Makes a Culture Great? 5 Company Culture Examples to Learn From

What Makes a Culture Great? 5 Company Culture Examples to Learn From

In today’s world, investing in your company’s culture doesn’t just have the potential to result in better financial results, lower turnover, and a stronger employee experience. For a select few, it goes so far as to earn them public kudos and awards from recognizable brands like Great Place to Work, Glassdoor, Comparably, or Canada’s Most Admired.

From those companies that are awarded, there is a lot the rest of us can learn from their approach to culture in the workplace. In fact, below, you will find five examples of award-winning company cultures, along with insight directly from one of the leaders responsible for maintaining those cultures every day. 


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5 Company Culture Examples We Can All Learn Something From

  1. Points
  2. In-and-Out Burger
  3. Grainger
  4. OMERS
  5. Smartbug Media



Points Logo EditOntario-based Points, a global leader in loyalty commerce, believes their focus on work-life balance and creating an environment where employees can grow and develop has been key to earning them a spot on the Best Workplaces in Canada list for eight consecutive years.

Points’ Chief People Officer, Inez Murdoch, attributes their success to their people-centric workplace. She said, “Points’ five core values are integrity, innovation, passion, caring, and collaboration. During this challenging time, we have been amazed by the unwavering dedication of our employees to display these values. Everyone’s willingness to support each other and our partners is what creates our thriving culture at Points.”

In another interview on the topic, the CEO of Points, Rob MacLean, said, “Since the pandemic, we have strived to maintain our award-winning culture as we transitioned into a hybrid environment. Our employees have readily embraced new challenges and adapted to new ways of working, enabling us to maintain our pace of innovation and expansion as we have continued to forge new collaborations and implement new solutions for our partners over the past year.”

In addition to their recognition as one of the Best Workplaces in Canada, they’ve also been recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Women in Canada for seven years.


In-n-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger Logo EditIdentifying what type of culture an organization has might not always be easy, but it is when it comes to In-N-Out Burger, a regional fast food restaurant chain in the Western United States. It’s a clear example of clan culture. Not only does the CEO often refer to her employees as “like family” in interviews, but employees also use those words to describe the culture in their reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Comparably.

While this type of culture might not always work, it does for In-N-Out Burger as they have made it on Glassdoor's Best Places to Work for eight years in a row, and in 2023, they even ranked higher on the list than powerhouses like HubSpot, Microsoft, and Adobe. Moreover, 87% of Glassdoor reviewers say they recommend a job with the company to a friend, which is impressive given how much lower their competitor's scores are.

Here’s what the CEO, Lyndsi Snyder, had to say to Yahoo Finance about the culture they have built over the years: “An important part of our company culture is having fun at work and being surrounded by great people. Day to day, the work environment has to be positive, and the associates actually create that themselves by being so upbeat and enthusiastic. Other things like a favorable pay structure and flexible scheduling definitely help, but it really comes down to our associates being part of something that they take a lot of pride in.”



Grainger Logo EditWith 94% of employees saying they felt welcomed when they joined the company and 90% of the workforce agreeing they feel proud to tell others they work there, it’s not surprising that Grainger was recently recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. They were also recognized as one of the Best Workplaces for Women in 2022.

As a leading distributor of industrial and safety supplies, Grainger strives to build an inclusive work environment. Kathleen Carroll, the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, recently said that “With nearly 40% of our U.S. workforce being women, this award recognizes the investments Grainger continues to make in creating an inclusive workplace.”

Grainger sponsors several initiatives to support women in the workplace. They include:

  • Being one of the first companies to sign The Chicago Network Equity Principles, a campaign to strive to achieve 50% representation of women in leadership
  • Their Women's Business Resource Group connects more than 1,400 women and allies across North America to advance an inclusive workplace
  • A partnership with The Mom Project, a digital talent marketplace and community designed to help women remain active in the workforce
  • A corporate member of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council
  • The founding partner of a new leadership development program for high-potential women leaders in partnership with the International Women's Forum

Grainger’s Chairman and CEO, D.G. Macpherson, reiterated the company’s commitment to culture. He said, “We're proud to be recognized for fostering a welcoming workplace that is inclusive and committed to fulfilling our purpose, We Keep the World Working. To innovate and best serve our customers, we've built a culture based on curiosity, development, collaboration, and teamwork where people are valued for who they are and recognized for the work they do.”



OMERS Logo EditAmong the list of organizations on Waterstone Human Capital’s 2022 Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures, you will find OMERS, a Canadian public pension fund. Not only do the reviews on Glassdoor often call out their positive personal experience with the organization’s culture, but 79% of those reviewers also say they recommend a job with the organization to a friend.

According to the CEO, Blake Hutcheson, this is all possible because of OMERS people-first culture. In a 2020 interview, he explained this in more depth: “Our culture is our people. It’s truly a team effort, and we are all accountable for it. Culture starts with what people do and how they do it when no one is watching. I have been in HR for two decades across different industries, working to figure out the secret to a great culture, and what I’ve found is it’s not just about a clever strategy - it’s about the people.”


Smartbug Media

Smartbug Logo EditBuilding a robust remote team culture isn’t easy, but one company that managed to do so with great success is Smartbug Media, a fully remote marketing agency with employees spread across 38 states and six countries.

For the third year in a row, they earned Best Company Culture from the Comparably Awards, along with Best Company for Work-Life Balance and Best Company for Women. They are also Great Place to Work certified, which is a certification granted to organizations that can prove they have an “outstanding employee experience and an amazing workplace culture.”

According to Jen Spencer, CEO of Smartbug Media, this is all possible in a remote setting because, “the SmartBug culture is built on a foundation of core values that include principles such as ‘stay curious,’ ‘have fun,’ ‘build belonging,’ and ‘rock it for the client.’ [We] embrace an atmosphere that allows the company and its employees to be happy, healthy, safe, and resilient, with professional development opportunities, unlimited sick time and team-building activities, such as the annual in-person conference, SmartBugapalooza.”

The Team Culture Toolkit Conains Resources That Will Help You Understand Where Your Culture Is Today and What You Want It to Be

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