Shannon Failla - Vice President of Culture and Support

Cultivating Success

The Significance of Strong Company Culture

Company Culture, what a complex concept. From podcasts and books to documentaries and conferences, no matter which way you look, you can’t escape the buzz surrounding company culture. Experts have spent years trying to explain it, yet everyone has different opinions when it comes to defining what company culture is, what it does, and why it is important. To test the complexity, ask your own manager to define “company culture and its importance”. Now ask another person in a different department the same question. Were their answers the same? Probably not.  

Shannon Failla, VP of Culture & Support at Student Quarters, has been asked this question many times, and after observing, researching, and testing many concepts, her personal take on culture boils down to this: “It is every action you see (and can’t see), it’s conversations you hear (and can’t hear) and it’s the aggregate buildup of positive and negative emotions you feel and receive while at work.” Culture is the sum of our formal and informal systems, behaviors, and values, all of which create feelings and an experience. Culture is a human factor. If you consistently create enriching human experiences, you create enriching and innovative cultures. 

Over the years, we’ve all been fortunate enough to experience all types of cultures – cultures some would categorize as ‘good’, ‘bad’, or ‘inconsistent.’ ‘Good’ cultures will bring peers together and keep them fulfilled. The ‘bad’ or ‘inconsistent’ cultures will drain individuals and teach hard lessons about setting boundaries or their values. Like with trust, all it takes is one negative experience or one “mutation” to change the way you feel about a culture moving forward. At both the company level and property level, culture can go from inconsistent to great OR great to bad because of things like growth, changes in leadership, tolerating bad behavior, or acquisitions that require two cultures to merge. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is to have a “good culture” and for a good reason. 

If you’re still reading at this point, you’re probably thinking, “Great, but why does this matter?” It matters because if you don’t have a culture full of positive experiences, people will leave and find another job. It is as simple as that. A recent study conducted by Glassdoor concludes that if a company’s culture deteriorates, 71% of employees will start looking for new opportunities elsewhere. Culture will either make your employees advocates or critics. Culture will either hurt or help employee well-being. Culture will be what recognizes and corrects burnout before it even hits.
At a company level, you must have a culture strategy that stays true to your mission. You also need to have competitive resources, be aware of what’s happening in the industry, watch trends, plan around what’s in the pipeline, and hold everyone accountable to the cultural standards that are outlined, no matter what.

For Failla, these are six critical ways she encourages leaders on-site to foster a positive culture:

  • Create fun, property specific, challenges with tangible incentives
  • Encourage lighthearted moments for a break or laugh
  • Share lunch or coffee breaks together and talk about something other than work
  • Reward employees for engaging with the larger organization (I.E. joining company training calls, happy hours, etc.)
  • Lead by example when it comes to wellness and work life balance
  • Actively participate in company sponsored events (mental health events, PRIDE events, black history month events, etc.)

We might be biased, but Student Quarters as an organization truly has something special and the positive energy in the air is contagious. Our culture continues to change for the better because our SQuad members question the status quo and create a better way every day. Employees at all levels are to thank for building our one-of-a-kind perk and culture platform that’s centered around diversity, wellness, results, and, most importantly, happiness. From our volunteer PTO and our free mental health days, to our 401k program and beyond, SQ has holistic benefit, recognition and growth opportunities. If you are looking for a change or are interested in learning more about our award winning culture, let’s chat!