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What The ‘100 Best Companies To Work For’ Have in Common

One hint: it’s not that they offer their employees mouth-watering snacks such as lavender pecan cornbread. It’s their culture, or as Fortune’s Geoff Colvin puts it, it’s their “essence, an indispensable quality that determines their character.”

LRN’s founder Dov Seidman goes one step further in his own Fortune column today by making the case that fostering values-based cultures where employees are engaged, motivated and inspired requires a thoughtful examination of how we operate, not just the physical benefits we might offer and that we conventionally associate with “good places to work.”

This is also true in my own field of Ethics & Compliance, where it is now the accepted wisdom that effective compliance programs do not only require effective processes and training, but primarily require fostering cultures that are naturally compliant. If a company’s culture is founded on sustainable values, true compliance will flourish, flowing from employees’ deep connection to a shared purpose. In other words, you get compliance right by getting culture right.

LRN’s data, as well as a number of other studies support the thesis that organizations that operate according to more human values are more productive, professional and profitable. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone – in a world where the best product or service can be reverse-engineered, where the best technology can be leapfrogged in months by a small start-up, or where customers can switch their loyalties with the click of a mouse, isn't culture the last and ultimate differentiator?