It’s Okay if You Don’t Care About Culture

I’m down in our Dallas headquarters this week planning some 2013 second half marketing, touching base with the Symbolist team – so they don’t forget about me – and talking about what our clients are looking for, not looking for, and what we can do to help them.  Always fun to be thinking about helping people.

Except when they don’t want your help.

And that is okay.

A Better Place to Be

Employee engagement and being an employer of choice or having a great employer brand are all worthy company objectives.  Many companies spend many dollars to make sure they score well on “best places to work” and to make sure their next employee satisfaction survey and engagement survey is better, badder and more in-your-face than the last one.  A lot of companies want that.

Some don’t.

And that’s okay.

Sometimes the Answer Is No

In our internal discussions about our clients and what they need, we talked about a client we’d been working with on a specific program – very tactical – and very successful.  We talked about how they could really use a more comprehensive engagement program – or more correctly stated – engagement initiative (engagement isn’t a program.)  But the client doesn’t want it.  They are profitable.  They aren’t having problems with turnover.  They aren’t getting slammed in social media.  They aren’t the best place to work but they aren’t a boiler room either.  They (the leadership) is pretty okay with where they are and what is showing up on the financials.

Some would say that they just don’t know what they are missing.  Others would say they are just fiddling while Rome burns.  I say – go for it Dude. Be your own bad self.

No one said employee engagement HAS to happen.  Sometimes it is just okay to have employee that are happy to collect the Benjamin’s, go home, crack a beer and watch the Fly Fishing Channel or Real Housewives.  It isn’t a sin to not have a foosball table.  It’s not a sin to have 2 weeks of paid vacation after 5 years (like about 99% of the rest of the world.)

In other words – it’s okay to not be Zappos (everyone drink!).

You’re Beautiful the Way You Are

I feel like sometimes we can get wrapped up in the “perfect world” scenario and forget that sometimes the imperfect is okay.

Look around your office.  Are people still smiling even though you don’t offer unlimited sabbaticals?  Are people showing up and doing some pretty good work without crazy costumes and “fun days?”

Then quit worrying about it.

The reason you can’t sell that new-fangled engagement program into the C-Suite is… wait for it… THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT IT.

And that is just fine.

As my Dad used to say to me – the world needs ditch diggers too… Just be a good one.

Go back to your cube, know that you’ve tried and most importantly – know that you can still hold your head high, running the HR department in a middle of the road, profitable, semi-engaged trucking company in middle America.

It really is okay.  It really is.

FOT Background Check

Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert is the Senior Director of Solutions Architecture at Creative Group Inc and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. Over the course of his career, Paul has worked closely with clients to design influence, marketing, motivation, incentive, loyalty, recognition and reward programs to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Paul is a recognized authority on incentives and performance motivation. Want to know what’s going to motivate your people to perform at their best and impact the bottom line? Want to know whether your service award program really means anything at all? Curious what psychological principles drive sales behavior? Paul’s your guy… unless you fervently bow down to Maslow. Check out his personal blog at "What Is Paul Thinking?" when you're tired of his FOT rants.


  1. Becki says:

    Engagement is such an interesting topic–and each company defines it differently. If this company is profitable, has a decent turnover, and no media slamming—I would say they are probably totally fine. I imagine that if one of the companies key markers slipped–engagement would become more a topic to discuss. If it ain’t broke-don’t fix it. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the C-Suite doesn’t care–I would say they just don’t have it as a hot issue–right now.

    Sometimes the flashy greatest company awards are just that–flashy–with the right marketing–loads of companies would sound better than they actually are (And I am reminded of T. Sackett’s post on LUCK.) Also– the great places to work “contests” may cost money to participate in OR utilize a data that is not used (such as glassdoor—not all companies are even reviewed). Lastly, some companies are just humble–and aren’t looking for recognition on a national level related to this–they know that what they do is good–and they keep it up.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Joel Kimball says:

    Outstanding – “when our attrition is higher than 2% I’ll worry” – J. Kimball. Exactly so. Related – team building is for suckers (the great Laurie R’s advice is never far from the tip of my tongue). Thanks, Paul – great stuff!

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