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9 Ways to Build a Thriving Company Culture

9 Ways to Build a Thriving Company Culture

By Janet Vischak

Affectionately known around here as DKP’s cultural gargoyle, you can say that I’m a bit protective of our people and the culture here. As you probably know, company culture gets a lot of chatter today in the business world. After all, a company’s work vibe can make or break a job (just ask anyone who’s been in a toxic work environment). That’s why cultivating an outstanding company culture has been and always will be mission critical at DKP.

When CEO Denise Pierce started this company over 20 years ago, she instinctively knew that building this business meant more than just adding employees. Instead, she meticulously crafted a positive work environment where everyone feels valued, respected, heard, and appreciated. The result? Denise grew a company culture that sets us apart from the pack. In fact, we’ve been nominated yet again (our fifth time!) as one of the 2021 Best Places to Work in Indiana.

So what’s the secret recipe to building a company culture that works? While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, here’s an insider look at nine ways DKP takes the workplace to the next level.

  1. Make it collaborative.
    As a non-hierarchical organization, everyone is treated like we’re all on an equal playing field—because we truly are. This unique setup creates a highly collaborative atmosphere where everyone has a voice. The team is encouraged to be curious, ask questions, and speak up with new ideas, innovations, and opinions (because two brains are always better than one!).

    Nobody works in a bubble at DKP. Instead, information and ideas are shared freely, office doors are always open, and we ask each other constantly how we can lend a hand. Our philosophy is when one succeeds, we all succeed.

  2. Design your workspace right.
    Instead of slapping a generic office space together, a ton of thought went into planning the DKP workspace to build and nurture culture. From lots of collaborative spaces to intimate meeting rooms, every detail has a purpose.

    Want to know one of my personal favorite office nooks? In warm weather you can find me working (and watching the birds) on our beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the woods, complete with comfy furniture and great Wi-Fi. We also have a fun upstairs area with cushy chairs and huge ottomans for taking a brain break or brainstorming with other team members. No matter where you are in our space, you can bet the spot was designed with interaction, growth, and inspiration in mind.

  3. Embrace new team members from the start.
    At DKP, we strive to make newcomers feel welcome and included from day one. Every new hire gets automatically teamed up with a Buddy, someone from a different department. Buddies go out of their way to get to know the new person, help them get settled, and answer any questions.

    New hires also go through our unique onboarding program called DKP Academy, an online course highlighting the history of our business, who we are, and how we do things. Whether you’re new or seasoned, we want everyone at DKP to be aligned when it comes to living out our values, mission, and purpose.

  4. Really get to know your people.
    We know it may sound cheesy, but the DKP crew really does feel like family. We go beyond just surface-level work talk and get to know people as holistic humans, caring about each other’s families, hopes and dreams, concerns, and even embracing each other’s unique personality quirks. Our culture is built on the understanding that when you know your coworkers on a more personal level, your sense of workplace purpose, belonging, and loyalty are strengthened.
  5. Allow for personal and professional growth.
    Nobody likes to feel stifled, especially at work. At DKP, we invite all our team members to stretch as far as they want. Taking on new tasks, exploring new areas of interest, and running with novel concepts are all encouraged. In fact, we joke that you have to be careful what you ask for around here because we believe in empowerment in a big way and most always say “go for it!”
  6. Get out in the community.
    We may work in biopharmaceutical market access, but our business truly is about people. Whether that means working with clients or volunteering in the community, our mission is to make lives better. That’s why giving back to causes near and dear to our hearts is so ingrained in our culture.

    And we can’t resist sharing a few of our favorite organizations we support. Reflecting our passion for dogs, we regularly support the Humane Society for Boone County and the Indiana Canine Assistance Network. We also organize the annual DKP Olympics, a series of fun games raising money for the local fire and sheriff departments.

  7. Choose to be great, not necessarily big.
    Following the Small Giant philosophy developed by Bo Burlingham, DKP focuses on being the best in our space, not merely growing for the sake of just being bigger. We know our sweet spot and stay there—and any growth we experience happens with laser-focused intention.

    In fact, much of our success has been built on aligning with clients who share our values and severing ties with those who don’t. There’s so much power in staying focused, staying in your lane, and only allowing the right kind of growth.

  8. Always be transparent.
    As a leader, Denise prides herself on transparency with both her clients and her employees. Nobody is left in the dark. No matter where you fall in the organization, you’re kept looped in about things like company happenings, financials, and client/project updates. And our clients know they can trust us to always be forthright with them (even if that means telling them something they don’t want to hear).

    Around here, we all know exactly where the company stands and how and where we fit in. This level of honesty and openness makes each and every one of us feel trusted, valued, and respected (you know, actually treated like adults!).

  9. Have fun together.
    Yes, we work super hard as a team. But you better believe that around here we are all about having fun together, too! Whether it’s cracking jokes, bringing our dogs to work, playing silly games (Two Truths and a Lie, anyone?), or bringing in our baby pictures for a guessing contest, we love to just have a good time. Truth be told, we even created superhero avatars for each other complete with funny names and personality descriptions celebrating our one-of-a-kind talents, gifts, habits, and passions.

The bottom line? At DKP, we value people above all else. Whether that means working to get patients access to rare disease drugs or nurturing our employees, people are at the heart of all we do. And while it takes time and intention to build and nurture a positive, healthy work environment, it’s worth every ounce of effort.

So, I challenge you today to think about the culture at your place of business. What are a few practical steps you could take towards a healthier culture? Write them down (or brainstorm with your colleagues) and then commit to taking action!

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