Perks nice, but focus on corporate culture to attract talent and improve your bottom line

What makes a company succeed? High on the list is corporate culture, a newly hot topic since Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer announced her controversial decision to abolish the Internet giant’s work-from-home policy with the intent to spur collaboration and innovation and, ultimately, increase profits. Mayer’s move runs counter to the culture of many companies such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and American Express, which embrace telecommuting as a tool for increasing productivity and morale as well as attracting and retaining talent. No matter where you land on the telecommuting debate, the larger point, I would argue, is that corporate success hinges on creating and consistently communicating your corporate culture.

Attracting and retaining great employees who will boost your bottom line has a lot less to do with ping pong tables and free snacks or sky-high salaries than with corporate culture. I’m talking about articulating your company’s core values, defining the employee behaviors that align with them and ensuring that managers support and recognize these behaviors.

In a Q&A for the Build Network, RoseRyan CEO Kathy Ryan discusses how to draw—and keep—top talent by embedding your core values in every facet of your organization. At RoseRyan, she created a team of values champions responsible for reflecting and integrating our company’s values into hiring practices, work performance, colleague relationships and recognition, just to name a few areas. The result? RoseRyan has successfully recruited and retained highly qualified individuals in one of the most competitive marketplaces for finance professionals in Silicon Valley.

Two of RoseRyan’s values have been critical to my success as a dream team member: professional growth (what we refer to as “Excel,” or “Stretch, Grow and Innovate”) and trustworthy and honest communication. The former signals that management supports me when I try new things and challenge myself in my role. The latter assures me that I’m informed because the dealings of my colleagues and company are transparent. Out with office politics and hidden agendas.

You don’t have to look far to find examples of companies where corporate culture is a draw for employees and a large factor in corporate success. Take San Francisco-based eco-friendly cleaning products maker Method Products. In their book, The Method Method, the two co-founders describe how they struggled to hire top talent. To differentiate itself, the company created an offbeat corporate culture that dictates that every job candidate be asked this question: how will you help keep Method weird? Having created its weirdness value, Method identified the behaviors it would support: feedback, transparency, creativity and caring. The Method method clearly works: the 2000 startup is now a $100 million giant that competes with Fortune 500 companies.

Here’s the take away: creating a corporate culture—articulating values and identifying prized behaviors—is an investment in your organization’s future. A well-defined and deeply embedded corporate culture tells employees what to expect and how to succeed in your organization. Set the expectation, and you’ll likely get a happier, more productive work environment that boosts your bottom line.