This post was updated in November 2017 with new information.
Recently, a company I work with was building their Company Page on Stack Overflow and lamented to me that they didn’t have any cool pictures of employees drinking beer and hanging out. They saw a number of different companies display those types of pictures and felt that they wouldn’t be able to compete. This company was falling into a common trap in today’s hiring marketplace: thinking company culture revolves around cool perks, drinking beer, and hanging out with your co-workers.
I’m not going to try and come up with a quintessential definition. There have been countless articles and books written about the subject, all with different takes on the subject. When it comes down to it, each company has its own unique culture that it is responsible for defining. Think about why your employees (specifically your technical team) work at your current company. Those reasons you come up with should cover that definition of culture (not how often you attend free happy hours).
A great way to start is to think of the reasons you work at your current company. According to our latest survey, developers say product details are the most important aspect of their job. For developers, the most important aspect isn’t benefits, salary, or an excess of craft brews. They want to know what they will be working on and the details of that product. The product isn’t necessarily how culture can be defined, but the reason why a developer joined the team to work on the product can be part of that culture definition.
Another way to define your culture is to ask your employees. A company that does a great job of displaying their culture on their Stack Overflow Company Page is Sparo Labs, a medical health technology startup. Sparo Labs did a great job of utilizing the “Why Us” section to display why their current developers enjoy working at the company. The developers state that they like the ability to learn quickly, explore exciting new fields, and interact with the community that they are helping. You are clearly able to see from their page that their work culture revolves around learning and helping others.
The moment I began working at Stack Overflow, it became very obvious that our culture revolved around a simple principle, “Smart and Gets Things Done”. I understood this principle when I started to talk to my various co-workers and began to understand the style of management here. It also didn’t hurt that our CEO wrote a book on the subject, titled Smart & Gets Things Done. You can also see this culture come through loud and clear on our Company Page. We make it obvious that we want to hire smart people to come learn and also share their knowledge. This culture is prevalent throughout the company and championed by each employee.