Company Culture

Donuts Aren’t Going to Save Your Company Culture

What does it mean to have a strong company culture? This question is asked incessantly in the world of business and even more so over the past few years with the rise of entrepreneurship and the shift in focus on workplace perks, employee growth, and company success. Some companies have taken the concept of “good” company culture to the extreme by installing slides and game rooms (Google), providing meals and housecleaning services (Shopify) and giving employees perks like concierge services and access to assistants who will complete errands for you (SC Johnson & Son). Other companies have barely moved ahead in adapting to this trend, and still believe that an office coffee run is going to make up for a lack of benefits, a lack of pay, and a lack of innovation in employee health and development.

Now you can blame Millennials for this shift in company culture, or you can define it as a byproduct of a changing world with changing times, but one thing that has not and will not change is this…

A good company culture values employees, respects their time and talents and makes work enjoyable again. It is more than material perks; it is about creating healthy relationships.

Money isn’t everything.

No one wants to spend their life working away at a job that only pays the bills. Money is great, but it is not the end goal (surprising I know). The end goal is to enjoy what you do. Consider this… your employees are investing time and energy into YOUR dream. Why not invest in theirs by creating a company culture that is built on providing value and personal development.

I firmly believe, and some of this is backed by a little bit of research, that employees would be willing to earn less if they gain more in education, experience, relationship, and enjoyment in their work. There is something of greater value than money, and that is company culture. As soon as the company culture depreciates, the value of a salary (or lack thereof) appreciates. If people are leaving your company, it’s more than just investigating in offering standard pay; it involves looking at your company’s culture.

Why donuts?

Now, where do donuts come in? Sprinkles, sugar glaze, chocolate drizzle; donuts have been the staple treat for businesses for who knows how long, but when were they relied upon to build a company’s culture? When did they become a way to bandage an employee’s wounded outlook on the company itself? You could purchase baked goods from a Krispy Kreme donut shop every day for a year and consider yourself to be a top-notch employer, but sooner rather than later, your employees are going to get sick and tired of this apathetic display of solidarity and look for something more concrete.


Want to save your company culture? Listen to your team. Imagine if Google managed only to hire individuals who were claustrophobic, and failed to listen to their concerns. The Google headquarters would feel like a death trap with its slides, sleep pods, and secret rooms. It’s about finding out what your employees love, what they hate, and creating a workplace made for them.

When did the definition of “company culture” change?

Unique perks add to the overall atmosphere of the space, but they are not essential in establishing a company culture. They are just items and offerings that make work a little easier or a little more enjoyable. Company culture changes with the arrival or departure of team members, the on-boarding of clients, the managing of projects and deadlines, how individuals interact with each other… the list can go on and on. Company culture starts with identifying what team members find valuable, what they enjoy, what they dislike, processes and procedures they would like to have in place, and so forth.

It doesn’t matter what perks you offer your employees, as every company’s culture should be different than the other. A foosball table is not going to reignite the passions of your team members magically. What will encourage your employees is listening to them, learning from them, addressing their concerns, and doing what is possible to create a space that is empowering, uplifting, and has a clear vision for the future.

Donuts are not going to save your company’s culture so stop relying on them to appease your team. They may bring a smile for a short time, but magnify the lack of leadership and direction that your company is already struggling to provide.