May 28th, 2021 | Sterling
Q&A with Jason Cohen of Centerfield: The Role of a Strong Company Culture
Company culture is a much-discussed topic, especially in the HR world, and it is being examined more in recent years. A company’s culture sets the tone for behavior and expectations within the organization, and companies strive to have their employees reflect their unique corporate culture.
Corporate culture should be a mutual fit between the organization and the employee, and this dynamic starts at the very beginning of the hiring process. It’s not unusual for job postings to lead with touting company culture, a trend which has been brought more to the forefront due to various factors such as the rise in open dialogue on mental health, the desire for an increased work-life balance and flexibility, the shift in the traditional workplace due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and others.
The significance of a strong company culture cannot go ignored. As discussed by The Houston Chronicle, “Policies, practices and people are central to orchestrating the ideal work environment. When the infrastructure is in place, the advantages include higher productivity, increased revenue, and a healthier workforce that is committed to organizational success.”
Global professional services recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley shares, “A neglected culture increases turnover rates, decreases employee productivity and reduces your chance of being able to attract the best talent — exactly what you don’t need when your organization is in the midst of a tricky period.”
A Unique Perspective
Because, as SHRM notes, there is not a one-size-fits all culture template that meets the needs of all organizations, we reached out to Jason Cohen, Co-CEO and Co-founder of Centerfield, a technology-driven marketing and customer acquisition company. Earlier this year, Centerfield acquired Savings.com, a leading online coupon site that works with more than 8,000 merchants, and Business.com, which helps millions of professionals acquire the knowledge they need to run their business and advance their career. Being in his unique position, we wanted to get his perspective on the role of company culture, from recruiting to hiring to established hires.
What does a great company culture mean to you?
At Centerfield, we just celebrated our ten-year anniversary and it has given me a chance to reflect on our culture, which has been a big reason why we’ve been successful. We’ve been honored to receive recognition as a Best Place to Work in LA, and a great company culture means that my colleagues are having fun building our business, advancing their careers, and giving back to the community.
What are some of your tips for building a great company culture?
We believe in having fun and having a balance of work and life. A few months into Covid, we realized that everyone was working a lot and perhaps not taking enough time for themselves, and so we launched Flexible Fridays, which encourages Centerfielders to take off two Fridays every month. We’ve also had the opportunity to grow our team through the acquisitions of Savings.com and Business.com, and have focused on making sure everyone feels like they are part of our culture and team. These acquisitions have added to our overall culture in a positive way — with new colleagues comes new ideas, fresh thinking, and more capabilities. Integration isn’t always easy, especially when you can’t meet everyone in-person, and so we’ve created a cross-functional team specifically around open communication and bringing teams together.
The final thing I’d mention is our core value of giving back. We’ve given more than $1 million to charities and have frequent company-wide activities to give back, whether it’s cleaning up a beach, giving time to Watts Elementary or using Zoom to build learning kits for students as a team.
What can you do during the recruiting, background screening, and onboarding process to strive toward hiring people that align with your company’s values?
In all facets of the organization, we strive to do a dry run when bringing somebody on to our team. For example, if I had somebody applying for a sales role, I would ask them to do a cold call and pitch me something. If we had somebody applying as a designer, I would ask them to create something and share it with us. This allows us to not only learn more about their capabilities but also their personality and values so we can gauge if they are a good fit for our culture.
What are some things you can do to preserve and safeguard your company culture on an ongoing basis? How can you strengthen your company culture if your workforce is remote or if you can’t do in-person team-building activities?
We have a team dedicated to maintaining our company culture, led by our Culture Manager, Tiffany Sayers. The Culture Team is responsible for ensuring that our team feels supported, involved, and appreciated. They’ve done some amazing things since the start of quarantine to make sure that our tight-knit, in-person culture carried through to everyone working from home.
Between creating an Inclusion & Diversity Council, to hosting a Culture Club where Centerfielders can provide feedback, to complimentary Zoom fitness classes, our Culture Team strives to make sure every single employee feels fulfilled and encouraged. We have eight clubs where Centerfielders meet monthly to bond over similar interests (music, DYI, video game, cooking, etc.) We have virtually volunteered and fundraised together to help under-resourced children in our communities. In addition to quarterly department team bonding events, we have hosted fun virtual events such as an escape room, a game show mashup, a paint & sip, and more.
Before our workforce went remote, all of our locations had their own respective social and volunteer events. This past year we were able to bring everyone together virtually. It has given us all a chance to get to know more people across our company, bolstering our inclusion efforts and boosting morale. We have also seen increased collaboration between departments. We have received a ton of feedback that our efforts are appreciated, and our team is grateful for the creative outlets we are providing while we are remote.
Q&A Blog Series
This blog post is part of a Q&A blog series, where we interview industry experts to get their insights on the latest trends, best practices, and recommendations for building great cultures and foundations of trust and safety.
Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.