Perks with Purpose: Defining Company Culture at Philly Tech Week

Having worked in the people space for the past six years, I spend a great deal of time thinking about company culture; how to define it, instill it, scale it, and sometimes how to correct it. Last week for Philly Tech Week I had the pleasure of attending one panel and speaking on another about this very topic.  There were CEOs, founders and “People” people (like me) on both panels, offering different viewpoints on the topic.  

It was refreshing to hear everyone quickly agree that building an authentic company culture is all about core values, and not about beer or nerf guns or exposed brick walls.  Your core values are the DNA of your company, the intangibles that make your organization unique.

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What are your values?

If you’re looking to build your company’s culture, the first step is to think about what’s important to you and how you approach your work.  At Delphic, our values came out of a desire to create a place where we could all come together and do great work every day.  Mark and Lance, our Managing Partners, have been incredibly thoughtful in carefully defining those values and baking them into the day-to-day here.  Our values include collaboration, innovation, and intellectual curiosity.  We use them as the lens through which we make decisions – from hiring, to client work, to what perks we offer.  We constantly ask ourselves, “Is this going to make Delphic a better place to work?”  If the answer is no, we don’t do it.

It’s Not Just About Perks

Perks are a hot topic these days; I would guess about 80% of the candidates I speak to ask about the perks at Delphic.  I found it interesting and reassuring that the panelists at both events unanimously agreed that perks do not equal culture.  Culture is who you are, perks are the stuff you do (or like, or eat, or play) as a result of who you are.  Most of the perks we offer at Delphic have evolved organically.  For instance, we have a pretty sweet ping pong table in the back of the office.  A few months ago, one of the vendors we partner with sent us a small and inexpensive ping pong table with their logo on it.  It was a fun novelty, so we set it up in the back.  We quickly noticed that there were a lot of employees staying after work, having a beer (oh yeah, we have kegs, too) and socializing over a ping pong game.  We saw a lot of value in that type of camaraderie, so we decided to invest in it by buying a much nicer full-size ping pong table for the office.  

Many of the other panelists shared similar stories about developing what we ended up calling “perks with purpose.”  Kegs in the office that allow people who can’t always make it to a midweek happy hour to bond with coworkers before hopping on the train.  Catered lunches that serve as a way to bring the team together to discuss upcoming projects and company growth.  Rather than offering “perks for perks sake,” determine what your desired outcome is and work backwards from there.

Philly Tech Week is always an exhilarating, inspiring, and exhausting week, but thinking back to these events I had the opportunity to participate in, I’m already counting the days to next year.

  • Ken Polotan

    Bethany, your article is spot on! In this day and age of digital, company culture has become a strategic advantage. Culture is defined by the company’s “why” – it’s purpose for being. This means articulating and living the values, especially modeled by the leadership.

    Thanks for sharing.

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