Culture commandments from Google, Paylocity, ABT and Andigo

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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” –Peter Drucker

As the nature of work continues to change dramatically, the technology available to us, services we offer our employees and the spaces we create are evolving as well. A focus on experiences is driving the future of workplace culture, which was the topic of conversation last week at the Schaumburg Business Association’s Commercial Real Estate Summit – The Future of Work.

Our own Senior Vice President Mark Kolar and National Workplace Consulting lead Ed Nolan hosted a panel of workplace experts from both established and rapidly growing buzzworthy brands: Google HR Business Manager Jacky Schiestel; Paylocity VP of Human Resources Jay Schedler; ABT Electronics Co-President Mike Abt; and Andigo COO Jean Theis. Enjoy their culture commandments as inspiration to make bold changes in your own workplace.


JLL’s Adam Pines and Mark Kolar; ABT’s Mike Abt; Andigo’s Jean Theis; Paylocity’s Jay Schedler; JLL’s Ed Nolan; SBA’s Kaili Harding; and Google’s Jacky Schiestel

Just say yes

ABT doesn’t have an employee manual, but for more than 80 years and three generations, the founding family has been instilling a culture of “yes.” Employees quickly learn to take on any reasonable request from a customer, which infuses the store with positive energy and optimism.

This yes mentality is further amplified by ABT’s flat organizational structure. Mike Abt and his three brothers are easily accessible to employees and have created an environment where every one of the company’s near 1,500 team members feels heard. Any cultural issues raised are acted on immediately, individuality is celebrated and employees are pushed to work in the space and be a part of the culture daily.

It takes a village

After nearly 80 years, Andigo is now at 110 employees and one of the largest not-for-profit credit unions in Illinois. In the midst of a massive name change and headquarters change, the company keeps returning to the idea of a family that cares about one another. Everyone’s opinions count and it will take a collective effort to come up with the next big idea.

These values prompted a crowdsourcing strategy when designing Andigo’s new headquarters. Employees were surveyed about the biggest things on their mind, which ranged from natural light to conference rooms to collaboration spaces. With its new space, Andigo hopes to inspire big ideas, continuously improving its operations and member experience.

Connect across space, and states

Four years ago, Paylocity had 600 employees. Now it’s at 2,500 and growing significantly, with nine facilities in the U.S. As the company builds out 300,000 square feet at Schaumburg Towers, it’s focused on creating connection and collision with “me space” (your cubicle or work station), “we space” (group meetings) and “our space” (all company).

People like working at Paylocity because they trust leadership, it’s a fun environment and there is a culture of openness and collaboration. The company has leaned into tech to reinforce this connection. It has a “follow the talent” strategy, with 850 employees working from home across 46 states who maintain strong digital tethers to Paylocity offices.

Put fantastic people in cool spaces

It’s clear at Google that each employee owns the company culture. Take pets. Bringing dogs to work is part of Google culture, so the company made sure it was written into its new Fulton Market lease. That inspired an employee-organized pet parade for their first Halloween in the new space.

Culture is about hiring and space at Google. They prioritize playful, creative space and hire “dimensional” employees that in addition to the right skill set, bring a piece of themselves and their diversity into the company fabric. Good things happen with great people and rich experiences in an amazing, collaborative space. And you can’t forget free breakfast and lunch, an old L car on the roof and a secret speakeasy.

Keep bringing it back to the mission

As all of these companies experience growth, in some cases exponentially, it has proven critical to remain authentic and true to their original purpose. For Google, now almost 1,000-strong in Chicago, it comes back to products that inspire and motivate. It’s about instilling employee pride in how Google is changing the world.

For Paylocity, the growth has spurred learning and development efforts, which include everything from job shadowing to tuition reimbursement to internal promotion. And it’s key for employee retention. If Millennials don’t feel like they are moving up or have more to learn, they will look for opportunities elsewhere.

Create a feedback loop

Just like the body’s immune system is used to regulate and tweak performance, culture can serve the same purpose for an organization. Employees are the first line of defense at Andigo, and leadership of small changes like naming conference rooms (a meeting in Solitary Confinement, anyone?) empowers them to be diligent stewards of their culture.

It’s as simple as responding to a passionate fisherman working at ABT, allowing him to add fish to the retention pond and following up with an employee fishing derby at the company picnic. Listen and let things happen. Google embraces the vulnerability of asking for feedback, with surveys on everything they do. Paylocity promotes two-way communication constantly but also knows when to sign off, giving employees volunteer time off for passion projects.

Consult an expert

You could keep yourself pretty busy not working with all of these exciting new amenities. Savvy companies are engaging JLL to ensure their workspaces contribute to a progressive business strategy. An office environment influences productivity, attraction and engagement of staff, and reflects the brand decisions that ultimately impact a company’s bottom line.

Make your workplace a breeding ground for building a high-performance culture. Sign up to see the latest on the Future of Work and download our full study, a visionary look at the changing world of work.