Defining and shaping company culture: our journey at Jobylon

Karin Bergström Culture & happiness Workplace

It’s generally accepted that a positive company culture is super important for attracting and keeping great talent, which in turn, can significantly contribute to business success.

While these are compelling reasons to focus effort and resources on company culture, there is also the fundamental reality that the average worker spends 30% of their life at work. Considering this massive time commitment, it's no surprise that workers are increasingly seeking work environments that feel positive and support employee wellbeing. 

At Jobylon, we’ve been on a mission to get specific about how we define our company's culture and what we do to actively shape it.

Karin Bergström, VP People & Culture at Jobylon

Recently, I chatted with Amby's CEO, Tor Daneshmand, on The Ramp podcast about the ins and outs of company culture and the unique path we’ve taken at Jobylon. While acknowledging that culture is a journey, not a destination, we've made significant strides and will continue fine-tuning it to create a culture that resonates with our team and aligns with our company vision.

Here's a glimpse into our experience.

Defining our company culture 

1. Initial exploration

Defining a company's culture is as challenging as understanding an individual's personalityit’s often nuanced and multifaceted. When I joined Jobylon, I first wanted to understand the essence of our culture: what makes working at Jobylon distinct from other companies? 

We already celebrated our “Happiness” culture, but it was crucial to pull back the layers and get to the why and how it worked. To begin this work, I organised focus group sessions with members from every team to get diverse perspectives. Through open discussions, I uncovered some of the nuances of our particular culture at the time.

2. Unpacking happiness

Our focus on "happiness" sparked discussions about whether happiness truly belonged in the workplace. We conducted workshops to dissect the meaning of happiness and its implications for our employees. We concluded that, for us, happiness involves creating an environment where employees feel secure and can bring their authentic selves to work.

With that understanding in mind, we decided happiness is indeed relevant in the context of where we spend the majority of our waking hours. It doesn’t mean that employees are grinning from ear to ear, but it means they have a safe space to support their work and who they are, even on days when employees may not feel particularly happy. 

3.  Connecting culture to the company vision

To understand our existing culture better, we looked at the results from the surveys, focus groups and workshops, and connected the data to our company vision. We wanted to see if our current culture was helping us achieve our business goals. This process revealed certain behaviours that, while not necessarily detrimental, needed to be refined to achieve the organisation's goals. Connecting survey data with the company vision became an important step in determining what aspects needed adjustment. 

Developing and shaping Jobylon’s company culture

The journey to defining culture wasn't without adjustments. Once we had a good picture of the existing culture and where we wanted it to develop, we tried different approaches to shift it. Along the way, we faced wins and setbacks, but each taught us something important.

Redefining happiness

Initially centred around a 'happy-go-lucky' culture, we redefined happiness to focus on creating a meaningful environment for every employee. Now, happiness is integral to our performance-driven culture, where we have a structured approach with clear, accountable behaviours.

The initial focus on a culture of happiness evolved into a more nuanced perspective—happiness within a performance-driven culture.  

Four Jobylon employees working together

Embedding behaviours in everything we do

Defining and implementing behavioural shifts should be an ongoing, end-to-end process, not a one-time activity. We took a year to ensure that the behaviours we encouraged—and those we discouraged—were in line with the culture we wanted to create.

We invested time to embed these behaviours throughout the employee life cycle–from recruitment to onboarding, salary structures, and performance reviews.

Behaviour-based performance 

We experimented with a new approach to performance reviewsletting employees grade themselves based on behaviours rather than traditional metrics. We felt this approach took into consideration the fact that individual behaviours are fully within one's control, and metrics are usually not solely based on the contribution of one person.

Letting employees grade themselves based on behaviours added a layer of personal accountability and engagement. 

Adjusting to employee feedback

However, after a year of trying this approach, and after employee feedback, we decided to do a mix of value-based behaviours and metrics in performance reviews. The feedback showed that employees appreciated having a clear context to relate the success of their work. 

Now, our performance reviews incorporate both value-based behaviours and more traditional success metrics. It's an ongoing experiment to strike a balance between meaningful value-based behaviours and clearly defined goals. 

Key takeaways from our company culture strategy

The new culture might not fit every one

Introducing new behaviours might lead to some employees leaving. This doesn’t need to be looked at as a setback, but as a necessary alignment check. The reality is simply that not everyone will embrace changes to the company culture, and that’s ok. 

It provides an opportunity for employees to find a culture that better aligns with their values. Simultaneously, the company can welcome new perspectives that contribute to the development of the evolving culture.

Focus on aligning individual and company values

Research shows that the adoption of company culture/values is most effective when it aligns with individuals' personal values. Our experience confirms this. During interviews with employees, we found that each employee related to the culture and behaviours differently. This was a good sign that people were reflecting and thinking about what the behaviours meant to them as individuals and not just repeating corporate jargon about what Jobylon’s culture was supposed to be.

Two Jobylon employees deep in discussion

I also found a recurring theme in employee responsesthe importance of connection. Employees came to work to earn a living, yes, but they also highlighted the value of meeting colleagues and understanding how their work supported their peers. It was important for them to see the interdependence of their work and how it related to team and company success. 

Measuring success is not a science

Culture shifts take time, and measuring success requires patience. Retention, while perhaps initially volatile, stabilises in the long run if the culture is genuinely healthy.

Employee net promoter scores (eNPS) also provide valuable insights, but long-term success hinges on defining specific goals and assessing whether new talent aligns with the envisioned ideal employee profile.

Final thoughts

Company culture is not static; it is dynamic and evolves over time. Aligning personal values with organisational values adds necessary depth to the culture and increases its chances of being adopted by employees. Shaping a culture is not about creating a set of values but about embedding them in every aspect of the organisation.

As we continue this journey at Jobylon, our focus remains on inspiring meaningful connections within our team, ensuring every employee feels seen, heard, and valued. As the company continues to evolve, the interplay between performance and happiness remains a focal point, creating a culture that resonates with each employee.

If you would like to hear more from my conversation with Tor, you can listen here.

Last updated:

Karin Bergström

Karin is the VP of People & Culture at Jobylon, where her passion for building high-performing teams and nurturing company culture shines through. With extensive experience working with talent acquisition, building company culture, and employer branding, Karin loves getting nerdy and talking about all topics related to People & Culture. Outside of work, Karin biggest passion is to sing. You can often catch her onstage with Jobylon’s own house band, the JBand.

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