Legal Strategies

Molly Johnson:
Periodically Examine Your Corporate Culture

October 26, 2018

Corporate culture is one of those terms that seems like it belongs in a psychology handbook. It’s something that we may not always be aware of, but it really defines our entire work experience.

Similar to investing in a quality mattress because, as they say, “You spend half of your life on it,” the prudent businesswoman occasionally examines their corporate culture because they spend the majority of her waking hours at the office.

Of course, part of the corporate culture involves legal preparations: making sure that the business has the appropriate policies in place. These take the form of employee handbooks, antidiscrimination policies, sexual harassment policies and the like. Generally, these are used by either human resources departments in hiring and firing or legal departments in navigating a crisis.

Of course, we frequently take calls from clients who wish that they previously had these policies in place. Sometimes because a lawsuit alleged that they didn’t exist, other times because a clear procedure to follow in navigating a crisis would have been helpful. You may want to institute your own policies and procedures. As per anything in life, the importance of being prepared cannot be overstated.

On the other side of the equation is employee satisfaction. Happy employees can mean a happy life for a business owner.

With respect to the physical health of employees, we are seeing more companies include gym memberships as part of their benefit package. This is helpful to the corporation as healthy employees generally results in fewer sick days. It also allows the employees to tap into a new social network and potentially make important business connections.

We are also seeing an increase in companies attempting to improve their employee’s mental health. This takes the form of telecommuting options, extended maternity leave, flexible hours or even yoga retreats.

Finally, there is also a wonderful movement of corporate giving that is continuing to grow. It has become popular for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike to match their employees’ charitable contributions.

On the Fortune 500 side of things, General Electric and British Petroleum made headlines for their policy of matching charitable contributions on a 1:1 basis up to $5,000 per employee. ExxonMobil matches on a 3:1 basis up to $22,500, according to DoubleTheDonation.com. Of course this easily can be, and frequently is, implemented at a smaller level.

Similar to a 401(k) employer match, the corporation sets the ratio and the maximum limit. The corporation may decide upon a list of its favorite charitable organizations or allow the employees to choose their own. In order to qualify for tax deductions, both the corporation’s structure and the structure of the charity must be considered. While the financial benefits are certainly valuable, the knowledge that the corporation is genuinely invested in helping others and making the world a better place is certainly one that would improve corporate culture.

With respect to corporate culture, a prudent businesswoman evaluates her employee happiness and policies and procedures regularly. Preparation and job satisfaction will pay off in spades.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.