As a leadership coach, I’ve encountered a lot of business owners and managers who dive into culture-building head-first. I always admire their gusto, but sometimes I must caution them to pull back. That’s because it’s all too common for leaders to confuse perks with culture—and while both have their place, the one is not a substitute for the latter.

Where Perks Come Up Short

Let me give you some examples. Say you want to build a culture that attracts new employees—top talents from within your field. So you set up a break room with a nice eating area and a Ping-Pong table. You institute casual Fridays. You maybe even let your team members work from home one day out of the week.

That’s all well and good—but it’s not culture. These are all perks, and they may well bring new employees into the fold. They’re not going to help you retain employees, though, because they’re not providing your team members with the thing they’re really looking for—a sense of belonging, and of usefulness, within the organization; a chance to make a difference, to develop, and to grow.

Creating Culture

That’s what culture can provide—a sense of ownership. And it goes well beyond perks. Any leader can provide some creature comforts, but it’s much harder—and much more rewarding—to develop a company culture where your people thrive.

Culture-building means creating an environment in which everyone feels like their opinion is heard and valued. It means empowering your team members to make creative decisions, and even to take some risks. It means showing your employees that you want to see them develop their skillsets, rather than remain stagnant.

Transform Your Culture

None of that can be accomplished through buying a few bean bag chairs or bringing a keg into the office. It’s only accomplished by building a sense of community over time, which may require you to rethink the way you handle meetings, organizational hierarchy, and daily interactions with your team members. In other words, it may require an act of transformation—but in the end, it’s a transformation that’s worth it. Start the process by enlisting my services as a transformational leadership coach!