Inventing the Wheel

Determining exactly what it takes to create an awesome corporate culture is somewhat of a mystery – you might have wondered how to develop a culture, what makes a successful culture or how to get associates involved in your company’s culture. At Benefitfocus, our culture is very special to us, and it’s something that’s continually evolving.

When we started the company, aside from designing software that changes the benefits industry, we also wanted to form an amazing culture. We studied companies with interesting cultures. We found that many of the companies had one thing in common: a simple set of core values. This was encouraging because we had begun with our own set of values and instinctively knew they would be foundational for our future success.

As we grew we began to receive many requests from community organizations. We wanted to design a framework to support our associates as a company and enable them to serve the community in areas they were passionate about. A friend suggested that we create a sort of panel to receive the requests and then plug people into the organizations so that our efforts would be grass roots led. This led to the creation of what we refer to as “The Wheel.”

The Wheel began as a way to organize our community involvement but has grown to include an array of areas our associates care deeply about. There are four quadrants of the Wheel: Community, Learning, Living, and Spirit. Each element of the Wheel focuses on a different area of our culture and core values.

Our managers encourage associates to join one (or several) of the volunteer councils for each quadrant. Volunteering on a Wheel council provides a way for our associates to work together on projects related to their passion.

Each part of the Wheel has an associate council head, and that associate sets up the council meetings and communicates with the team of volunteers. Everyone works together to reach team goals. For example, on the Community Council, we have a “Green Team, ” focused on finding ways to become more environmentally friendly. That team meets regularly, comes up with fun and helpful ideas, and works together to accomplish the goal. One of their recent initiatives was “Mug Monday” – where they encouraged associates to use a reusable mug for their morning coffee. Everyone who participated was entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share an inside look of our company culture and explain more about each of our Wheel councils.