My Three Cents



In my last blog, Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast, I addressed why culture is an increasing factor in making or breaking a company’s success. When companies lack an atmosphere where each person feels treated with respect and courtesy, employees don’t give their all, turnover increases, and company performance suffers.

In contrast, in a company culture where people feel valued and respected, the opposite usually occurs. Individual performance, motivation, teamwork – as well as longevity on the job –  increase, as does company performance. Obviously, people have to like the kind of work they are doing and the people they are working with, which are all culture fundamentals.  I would also add accountability to key cultural ingredients – peer-to-peer, upward and downward.   Following through builds a sense of confidence and trust, making people feel valued and respected.

New research from Glassdoor, the company review site, reinforces this idea. It analyzed 5,000 resumes of employees who changed jobs and concluded that a good company culture is the #1 motivation for people to stay at a workplace. (Ranked #2 was salary, and #3 was the ability to progress in their jobs.)

Employee surveys we have taken at our firm over the years also support the idea that salary is not the #1 reason employees look for a new job. It’s lack of challenge in their work.  Salary consistently ranks #2.

I am intrigued by a new take on the topic of why employees leave jobs by Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. She suggests in her New York Times article that the reason people may not find job satisfaction when they switch jobs can be found in human nature:

“A basic insight from behavioral science is that people care about the present mainly in the present” – not in advance.

“Present benefits” on the job – which Fishbach describes as doing interesting work with people they like – are very important to employees in a current job. “But we care much less about such benefits when we apply for a future job… We fail to realize that the person we are in the present – the one who values intrinsic benefits—is awfully similar to the person we will be in the future.”

The professor likens this to the same reason why people often sign up for the wrong gym class – choosing “the one that is the best at maximizing delayed health benefits yet fails to deliver an enjoyable experience in the moment.”

She advises that people can use these insights to increase job satisfaction: they can choose a career or pursuit they enjoy, do things that make them happy at work (i.e., listen to music, participate in firm social activities), and remind themselves to pay attention to the positive aspects of their tasks.

Thus, the key to happiness at work lies both with company and employee.


thought leadership



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