Workplace culture is a hotly debated topic, with leaders questioning whether it is worth the investment, whether it makes a difference, and how to go about it. Great workplace cultures don't happen overnight. There's no magic wand. Instead, great cultures come from organizations that invest in their people, treat them as whole human beings, and create a positive ripple of impact to their teams, stakeholders, communities, and society.
So how can leaders build a great workplace culture that attracts and retains the best talent? We had the opportunity to speak with the CEO and Founder of National Business Capital [NBC], Joe Camberato, to talk about the award-winning culture at his company.
NBC has been named #1 Top Workplace for the 4th consecutive year.
Joe: "It's been awesome to win four years in a row. The team's super pumped. People ask me, "How do you deal with culture?" it's hard to break that down into a simple answer- it's not any one thing. We do a lot of little things that make a big difference. The most important and most obvious, do the right thing by people put people first.
Our theme is "grow," we help business owners grow, but it's also important that we keep growing personally and professionally. We become a better company, a better business, and better people, and we'll be able to deliver even better for our customers. It's an environment where people can grow and be themselves. We also have a lot of fun while we're doing it."
Joe: "You got to commit. The first and most important thing you got to get your people on board with this life commitment, this culture commitment. In the beginning, it wasn't easy. There were some people on board; some weren't- the team's got to be all about it. But it doesn't happen overnight. It's because of DH that got us on this mission of culture."
Joe: "We have some fun stuff and goal contests. When we're having some fun, going out locally, we try to incorporate icebreakers, mixing people into groups and teams. So people can learn more about each other. Even today, at the icebreaker we did for Friendsgiving, "what you're thankful for." It's very interesting what people share, and you get to really learn about one another.
It's a lot of little things like that that we're constantly doing. And we couldn't do it without our culture team."
Joe: "The new facility came out amazing. We use the tree ring concept, which symbolizes growth. There are different milestones of the company's success. Every office here is glass, so it's all open and collaborative. We have a training facility, plenty of conference rooms, collab areas, an awards wall, and big screen TVs everywhere—cool pictures of the team and everyone's stats. There is a section with customer testimonials that are interchangeable. It's all integrated into our system. We're in this awesome spot of Innovation Park with 55,000 employees and 1200 companies. It's the second largest park office park in the country behind Silicon Valley. I want to come here, and I want people to come here and love it and feel comfortable. It's a breath of fresh air walking in here."
Joe: "Your environment makes a difference in your mental state. When you show up, and something's nice, you want to treat it nicely. Our new office brings it to a new height. We're going into adulthood as a company. Everyone comes in here, and they're in a good mood. They love and appreciate it. They respect it. It makes you feel good and proud of where you work.
For me, it's a lot of work, running and building a business. As a CEO, it's a big responsibility. I want to have awesome people around me. I want them to feel proud of where they work. It's very important to me and shows if you come here."
Joe: "We have our 401 K provider coming in. They talk about planning and saving for your future, which is really important for me, especially in the financial business. I want to make sure that our employees are thinking about that.
We've had someone come in to guide meditation and walk the team through stretches. We've done a 40-mile bike tour in the city through all five boroughs. It was an awesome experience. The folks that came out formed some cool bonds. Again it goes back to recognizing them as whole people and helping them to nurture their whole person. It's the consistency of doing it and making it a part of our culture."
Joe: "We constantly do different contests and mix it up throughout all the different departments. We still do WOW cards. Recognition goes a long way. We talk through our people's headlines, and they all get WOW cards. Our business is helping businesses access capital, so we celebrate and bang the gong when we get certain deals funded of certain sizes. We have milestones plugged into our system, so when you hit certain records and goals, all the TVs throughout the office will go off with a picture of the person, and everyone claps."
Joe shared NBC's quarterly Grow and Tell newsletter, which is put together by the culture team. This highlights people who got WOW cards, customer testimonials, recipes, life events, and more. Every newsletter features a different member of the team, with an interview to help everyone get to know them better. It's NBC's culture in a book.
Joe gives all the credit to his amazing team for putting the newsletter together each quarter. "They pulled all this together." He's easily able to let them take control because he says, "the culture is the people, and if they're not in charge of it, not believing in it and not doing it, what does it matter? To see this happen on its own speaks to the culture."
Joe: "We crushed it in 2019, and we thought 2020 was going to be our year. Our business is lending, our supply is money, and our supply chain was cut off. We had to downsize, causing a massive layoff. I was fully transparent throughout the whole thing. I felt horrible. I laid people off, and they reached out to me to see if I was okay, which was mind-boggling. We fought through it and weathered the storm. In September 2020, I explained to the team where we were, where I thought things were headed, and where I thought there would be a lot of opportunity. Slowly but surely, we brought everybody back and picked right back up with everything we did culture-wise.
We've hired 38 people this year so far. People ask, how are you hiring people? We can't hire one person? We don't have that problem. It's not easy; It's hard, and we're working hard to hire that many people. But the culture is selling itself, and we're still hiring those people and still putting people first. We're not making sacrifices.
All that craziness made us stronger it made us double down on culture. It brought the culture to a whole new level. In all wild times, there's always opportunity. But if you don't stay focused, stay positive and focus on those opportunities. You'll never find them.
Many bad things happened to many people, so I don't want to disrespect that. But there were so many positives that have come out of a wild time. And much respect to my team for staying focused, sticking with me, believing in the company, and bringing everything to a whole new level."
Unfortunately, there are no magic quick fixes to make culture great. It's consistency in the little things that build an award-winning culture. NBC is an excellent example of this. They've consistently put in the work, celebrated the wins, and stayed committed to sustaining a fun, productive, positive workplace culture in which everyone wants to show up fully each day. When you talk with Joe, you can feel his enthusiasm and passion for his people, so while there is no magic, it simply comes down to invest in your people, and they will invest in your company.