The Best Company Cultures in America – It’s Not Who You Think


Why free lunch doesn’t equal a great company culture

The concept of a company culture has narrowed in recent years, and these days you’d be forgiven for thinking “culture” equates to employment perks. Companies like Facebook and Google have become famous for extravagant perks that include three free meals a day, onsite gyms and childcare, and free transportation to and from work. While perks can increase job satisfaction, they don’t tell the whole story.

Through authentic leadership and a genuine commitment to their employees, these five off-the-radar companies have created some of the best company cultures in America.

Riot Games

Maker of the gaming juggernaut “League of Legends,” Riot Games offers some of the superficial employment perks that tech-minded millennials have come to expect, with shiny offices featuring fully stocked kitchens and skateboard-riding staffers. But dig deeper, and you’ll find a pervasive culture dedicated to driving employee engagement with “League’s” customers and the mission of providing award-winning gameplay.

Instead of orientation, new employees undergo “denewbification,” a crash course initiation that turns “newbs” (new players, in gamer slang) into seasoned advocates of the Riot Games philosophy. After 60 days, new employees who think they’re not a good fit are offered 10 percent of their salary to resign and seek greener pastures, guaranteeing that all workers embrace the core mission.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Four Seasons takes people analytics to heart, with one Hotel Manager in London saying, “We’ve identified that our key competitive difference is our people.”

Workers who sign on with the company are assured of career opportunities thanks to Four Season’s policy of restricting all new job postings to internal listings for a full five days and guaranteeing that all internal applicants will be interviewed before the listing goes public. The company’s human capital strategy means almost half of the company’s job postings are filled internally, allowing it to retain employees who have already been immersed in a deep culture of service-satisfaction training and excellence.


W.L. Gore

Manufacturers of “Seinfeld”-famous Gore-Tex, W.L. Gore’s full-time voluntary turnover rate is a stunning 3 percent. Along with its CEO, many of its employees have never worked at any other company, despite the absence of headline-friendly perks like “nap pods” and free lunches.

Instead, W.L. Gore relies on a “latticework” organizational structure that de-emphasizes hierarchy, focusing instead on leveraging the interconnected skillsets of its employees to form a genuine corporate family. New employees quickly become converts to — and proselytizers of — the company’s mandate to “take care of one another,” and productivity is measured not just in profit but in overall employee well-being.

Veterans United Home Loans

Founded in 2002, Veterans United Home Loans facilitates government-backed mortgages for qualifying veterans and their families. Though relatively young, the company quickly settled on its core mission to provide stellar service to veterans while maintaining a cohesive and career-minded dedication to productivity and positivity in the workplace.

Employees are expected to commit to the mission before they even step foot in the office on their first day, since all new hires are mailed an initiation package that includes $10 from the company, with the mandate to use it to “improve somebody’s life” before showing up for work.

This unified dedication instills its employees with a sense of genuine purpose. Says one, “We’ve got our little benefits like fresh fruit in the fridge, and those really do help with morale, but they don’t make us who we are.”

Publix Super Markets

With none of the spectacles of many employee perks programs, this staid grocery retailer has still managed to create one of the most successful company cultures in the world. Its turnover rate for part-time employees is under 40 percent, and only 8 percent for full-time employees, metrics which are unheard of in the retail industry.

Instead of relying on splashy employee perks, Publix instead operates with a mandate to treat its employees well, compensate them fairly and guarantee stable employment for hard workers. Employees “buy in” to the company’s mission with an employee stock ownership plan that automatically vests an amount equivalent to 7-10 percent of their pay each year, without actually charging the employees a single cent.

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