CAPITAL, INVESTMENT AND LEADERSHIP: Capital Investment: Building a Branded Culture - Jamie Gorski

Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, and they’re increasingly changing the way that workforce works. Many companies have introduced summer Fridays and casual office wear, but as Mary Adams from Forrest Performance Group says, that doesn’t define a company’s culture—those are just perks.

A company’s culture comes down to how the employees feel. When employees are engaged and dedicated and feel their work matters, the company as a whole produces more work. Adams quoted a recent study from Gallup that shows that disengaged employees are productive only an estimated 40% of their time in the office.

Jamie Gorski, chief marketing officer of Bozzuto, and Stephanie Brock, president of U.S. Residential Group, at a panel at the 2016 MFE Conference, shared how their companies are tackling culture problems and how they’re building a better, stronger workforce.

With her team, Gorski emphasizes the value of their industry’s work. She credits Tom Bozzuto’s founding vision of the company for how happy and satisfied her employees are today. “We create homes and communities for people. What work could be more satisfying than what we do?” she said.

Starting from the top down, the vision, mission, and core values should be bred throughout the company’s efforts so that employees experience them every day. That doesn’t mean just repeating them daily, but actually living them daily.

Stephanie Brock, who was named her firm's president nearly 14 months ago, shared her experience of creating a new culture at the 30-year-old U.S. Residential Group. She wanted to maintain the company’s tradition of having senior leadership on the ground with her on-site teams, but she also wanted to update the organization’s reputation, both internally and externally.

With the backing and support of U.S. Residential’s parent company, C-III Capital Partners, Brock was able to hire three consulting firms to help her build a narrative, create a voice for the company, and then implement that culture across her 38,000-unit portfolio.

Gorski and Brock also emphasized how important it is to cultivate an employee base that believes, and lives, the culture in place. Gorski says Bozzuto has stopped selling interviewees on the company’s culture; her team doesn’t boast about all the perks and core values, but instead asks questions to evaluate whether potential employees will fit with the culture already in place.

Brock, who’s managing her own cultural transition, spoke about identifying workers who fit the new culture in terms of integrity and performance: High-integrity, well-performing employees are key, and a company should do everything it can to keep them. High-integrity, poorly performing employees are the ones management should train and coach to help guide and improve their performance. Low-integrity, poorly performing employees should likely go, Brock said, but low-integrity, well-performing employees are the most dangerous. Such workers will deliver their own results but destroy the results of the team and ultimately undermine the effectiveness of any company culture.

“They can crater your company’s culture and performance,” Brock said.