Workplace culture is changing rapidly with corporations adapting to remote or hybrid models, structural changes, or just onboarding new employees. Core values are your North Star for these situations, but in order to communicate and inspire your current and new employees, consider sharing a company culture deck.
A company culture deck was a favorite amongst early startups who were disrupting the traditional work model. Netflix released theirs in 2009, earning 18 million views, and showed team members how they can embody their company mission and core values as they continued to grow.
That Netflix Culture Deck is the stuff of legends. Many people attribute it as the secret to their success, giving competitive advantage because of co-founder Reed Hastings’ equal emphasis on building a new business model and supporting talented people who “are willing to be vulnerable, in search of truth and connection.”
If you’re looking to create your culture deck for your team (we think you should!) then scroll below to discover fresh ideas and learn more.
What is a company culture deck?
Your culture deck is essentially a slideshow to communicate your company values. That sounds straight forward, but it goes beyond a list of three or five key phrases that sound aspirational.
Your deck should talk about how those values show up in your work as an organization, as an individual, as a leader, and through your teamwork.
You want to show how it guides the choices you make, like major business decisions or even non-profits you support. It should also show the actions that you take. For example, if your core value is candor, then how does that lead management training or even employee feedback.
It’s similar to an employee handbook, but it adds an open, personal touch to what someone can expect when joining your team. And how they should expect to be treated.
Patreon’s 2018 culture deck was about 60+ slides long, and we love how it gives an example of what this core behavior is, isn’t, and what those tradeoffs look like:
Yours doesn’t need to be quite this long, but it does have to layout expectations on work culture and values. More importantly, it should get employees excited about being part of your company.
Benefits of a company culture deck
Startups had to balance disrupting an industry, supporting a strong culture, while quickly onboarding new team members. It got pretty unwieldy, and it’s why many of these companies developed their own culture decks or culture codes as a way to help them manage growth and maintain consistency.
Think of culture decks as abridge between the organization and your current and new employees. Like any employee handbook or guide, make sure your people can access it any time. More importantly, make sure to engage managers with the deck too. Their buy-in trickles down to your employees and ensures consistency with the team overall.
Culture Gene CEO Bretton Putter dedicated an entire book to the concept in Company Culture Decks Decoded. Along with telling us basics of how an employee can succeed at the organization, he calls out benefits like:
- Differentiating you from your competitors
- Showing how employees can make a difference and feel purposeful in the organization
- Attracting and retaining high quality talent
And that’s just to name a few.
As you build your own, consider how you can set your organization’s product and culture apart in your industry. Why should someone join? What wins in your product or culture have you accomplished? What are your goals for the team? Your culture deck is the perfect place to answer these questions.
5 Ideas for your culture deck
There is no hard template on what to put in your culture deck. Just think of it as the first touchpoint in an onboarding experience or attracting a potential hire. If someone was unfamiliar with your product or what your stood for, what do they need to know?
We’ve seen a range of culture guides, and they can include anything from fun memes, to DEI goals and current metrics, to even company timelines.
What you choose to include is up to you, but we highlighted a few great company culture decks to motivate your people team below.
1. Show your culture’s personality - Etsy
Maker marketplace Etsy notoriously has a strong culture because of how they adapt. With today’s RTO trend, Etsy leaned into their people’s desire to continue working from home and moved into a hybrid system with strategic hubs in key cities to help with collaboration.
They uphold core values like craftsmanship and environmentalism to unite their people and their customers. They brought that same spirit to a personal, lighthearted level in this Etsy’s culture deck where they highlighted Coding as Craftsmanship.
They showed their culture’s personality, even jokingly showcasing products sold on Etsy with links, and shared how they accomplish their teamwork by embracing values like silliness and respect.
What’s important to your team? How do you have fun or how do you recognize great work? Talk about it or share images to showcase it.
2. Go ahead and add that in-joke or phrase - Hootsuite
There’s a reason why meme culture thrives online. Knowing that meme came from that TV show or that viral Tweet is a special language all in its own. It holds true for company in-jokes, work memes, or even internal lingo.
For social media management tool Hootsuite, they have an acronym specific to them. They shared it in their culture deck in 2014, and it continues to pop up in their manifesto: #BSU.
This isn’t a core value but it is an important internal phrase that they use to signify hard work and innovation. Introducing this early on is a small way to open a door to new employees and offer a warm welcome. If you know, you know.
Is there an emoji you use for certain wins? Is there a Slack channel where people like to share dog photos or hobbies? Giving a head’s up on your internal lexicon can help people feel at ease.
3. Tie it back to your product - Spotify
Music and podcast streaming platform Spotify uses musical and band metaphors to talk about their mission and how individuals can join to help them achieve it. Their band manifesto— ahem current culture deck— carries the same spirit and innovation as their approach to their product.
We’re down for a good turn of phrase and Spotify captures it perfectly so their whole team can be in sync (Sorry! They made it look fun!) This cheeky, creative way to tie it back to the product gives an idea of Spotify’s work environment and personality, and it makes this employee handbook much more engaging. If you want to jam with them, they want to make sure you’re aligned.
Whether you’re B2B or B2C, how you tie it back to your product instills that sense of fun, aspiration, or professionalism that can attract potential hires. It also keeps people engaging with these employee resources.
4. Show your way of thinking - Hubspot
Marketing and sale CRM juggernaut Hubspot understands that their business creates two products: one for their customers (the platform) and one for their employees (their culture). In the Hubspot Culture Code, the organization outlines the goals as a company, but more importantly it walks us through what they aspire to be and how they think.
For example, they see the relationship between culture and recruiting in the same way that you would tie your product with your marketing. They want to attract and retain talented people, along with building a progressive product.
Breaking down each Hubspot core value in terms of product and people is a thoughtful way to show how culture is as important as end results.
Think through what you offer your customers and what you offer your employees (not just benefits) as a starting point. As an example, if core value is transparency, maybe that shows up in product updates to clients and open fireside chats with founders to support your team culture.
5. Show your organization’s impact - Asana
Work management platform Asana helps so many teams and employees keep organized as they track progress on huge projects. Whether that’s coding a new platform or planning a film festival, Asana’s a go-to for project managers and professionals.
Maybe that’s why Asana’s Culture Code starts with customer testimonials to show the product’s far reaching impact. This instills a sense of purpose for team members and helps everyone understand how that high performance hackathon or team get together really add up to something great.
Share feedback from customers or users and what your organization’s really helped them achieve. Mix it up and include a video testimonial or videos from events your product helped launch.
Get started on your own culture deck
Whether you’re undergoing change or high growth, a company culture deck is a creative, engaging tool for you to share with your team. It defines your work as a company but also the community you create in the organization.
When someone feels a sense of purpose or lends a hand when a coworker needs help, that’s the culture. It might start with a slide deck or words on a page, but it influences your team and impacts their daily work lives for the better.