Our Top Takeaways From Culture Summit 2016

We were excited to return to Culture Summit this year and see that it’s grown from being a San Francisco event to bringing people in from across the country and beyond — and it’s easy to see why. This isn’t a place for mere enthusiasts. The attendees we met were smart people who get culture — longtime advocates who could have easily led their own session on the topic. We were in good company!

Speakers included executives at Facebook and Google, and leaders at smaller but highly respected startups including Greenhouse and Hubspot. Here are some highlights from the sessions.


Survey Your Employees

Employe Net Promoter Score, or eNPS, came up a couple times. Katie Burke from Hubspot says people often come to her saying they want to be listed on Best Places to Work lists, as Hubspot is — what’s her secret? “Ask your employees,” she says. Surveys, at a frequency and length that makes sense for your company, will surface what employees truly want to make their work experience better.

At Facebook, 360 reviews are done twice a year, with just two questions. One of the company values is impact, so that’s what peers should look to evaluate a coworker’s performance — and the fact that the second question is framed looking forward means the resulting feedback can come off as empowering.

Build a Workplace of Trust


Is your company a place where employees feel they can be themselves? Peter Scocimara from Google brought up the concept of psychological safety and its impact on performance. He says managers should start one-on-one meetings with questions like “How is your family” or “What’s the latest on [insert personal interest]?” rather than a status update.

At Study.com, scrum master Josh Briggs says he’ll start daily standups with a silly question as an ice-breaker, which enables the same development of trust.

At Facebook, Janelle Gale says the fact that the site is built on real identities is parallel to how their culture enables employees to come to work as their real selves.

Determine Your Culture ROI

In one of the most popular sessions, saved for the end of the day, Maia Josebachvili from Greenhouse showed us how to not only get culture to pay for itself, but make a case to management on the ROI.

For example, if just 10 percent of your employees stayed one year longer due to culture, how much would you save in recruiting and onboarding costs? That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as you can see on the slide below.

It was a short day with limited time to cover everything that culture means — next year we hope to hear more about diversity efforts and mental health in the workplace. It’s a great time to work in HR and people ops with a lot of exciting ground to cover. See you next year!