Building a Thriving, Sustainable Company Culture

by Madison Gillespie & Sara Wells

For any company, reaching 90 years in business is an accomplishment.  It’s a long journey full of learnings, highs, lows, and everything in between.  Over the years, our company has progressed from a small, independent venture to a prosperous enterprise serving thousands of clients across the globe. While our structure and offerings have evolved over the years, our core principles remain unchanged, and are as relevant today as when Alberta Burke first founded the company in 1931. These core principles – a steadfast commitment to quality, loyalty to our clients, forward-thinking thought leadership, investment in our community, and dedication to our employees – are the bedrock of our culture.

As we look back on our many years in business, we’ve realized that to maintain success and enable growth, a company should have a culture that allows both business and employees to thrive.  For us, top-notch client service has been and will continue to be foundational to our business, but it’s not the whole picture.

Burke intentionally and strategically invests in our people and our processes to build a multifaceted company culture. Consider some of our practices, shared below, and how you may be able to leverage them in your own company culture.

    • Be sure to encourage an environment of open communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, and motivate employees to make responsible decisions that align with core organizational commitments. Our most recent employee engagement survey showed that 93% of Burke employees feel their contributions are meaningful to helping us achieve company goals and objectives (Source: Pulse Survey Results, Burke, 2019).
    • Burke is an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), meaning that Burke employees are the only shareholders of our company stock and directly share in the financial success of our business. While this model is unique, and is certainly empowering to our team, consider how you can encourage employees to think and act like owners at your company, and find ways to reward that thinking.
    • Invest in employees by providing them with the tools, training, and opportunities to excel in their career and beyond. This shows them that the organization supports them and wants to see them succeed. We have seen proof of these efforts internally, as 94% of Burke employees feel empowered to meet customer/client needs (Source: Pulse Survey Results, Burke, 2019).

    • Employees need – and expect – an appropriate balance of work and home life, especially following the shift into virtual work over the past year and a half. Being mindful of this need and including flexibility in your culture can make a big impact.
    • In addition to providing opportunities for professional growth, it is beneficial to help employees maximize personal talents by providing opportunities to leverage said talents at work. This approach – at Burke, it is a dedicated initiative known as Maxology – can inspire employees to tap into their passions during the workday and better not just their work, but themselves and their wellbeing.

    • Recognize the value in having diverse representation in your company and the benefits it brings. Intentionally and meaningfully pursuing a superlative, diverse culture in thought, action, and talent will help ensure a sustainable future.
    • It is important for employees to feel they can be their true, authentic selves at work. Provide training to employees and commit company resources to ensure an inclusive environment.
    • Alongside other partner groups, we are working to make the marketing research industry more diverse by contributing to the education of minorities and others who don’t have equitable access to such programs. Consider how you may broaden access at your company and/or your industry.

    • Continually invest in the community in a tangible way, such as through ongoing partnerships with local organizations. Burke has some such partnerships with Cincinnati organizations in the health, sporting event, and education spaces, among others.
    • Involve employees in the planning and in the selection of community partners. This helps to create optimal engagement with maximized community impact and enrichment.

    • Today, more than ever, people are more conscious of how their actions impact the environment. Companies, in turn, should become more aware of their impact, try to reduce their carbon footprint, and encourage their employees to do the same.
    • Burke’s Cincinnati headquarters sits on a seven-acre campus, crowned by our LEED Gold certified building.  Our campus features a walking trail, outdoor spaces, and one of the largest solar parking canopy installations in the city. While this is not feasible for all organizations, other environmentally friendly practices to consider could include recycling, using green cleaning products, encouraging the use of reusable products, or looking for power savings throughout the office where possible.

We recognize that even with Burke’s accomplishments, we still have room to grow. Pursuing growth and embracing change are key as we seek to evolve into an even better version of who we are today. Change doesn’t weaken or diminish a company’s culture. Rather, the openness to change, to evolve, to grow, is integral to sustaining it. We believe that as organizations continue to prioritize core commitments – including steadfast dedication to quality, loyalty to clients, forward-thinking thought leadership, investment in local communities, and dedication to employees – we will continue to build upon the rich legacies established by those who came before us. We are on a journey together, and we say, “Cheers to 90 more!”

Madison Gillespie is a detail-oriented team player who is passionate about uncovering optimal client solutions. She utilizes her inquisitive, creative side to approach research problems from all angles and to help ensure that successful outcomes are achieved.

As a Human Resources professional, Sara Wells combines her passion for people with her enthusiasm for organizational effectiveness to support the positive culture at Burke. She contributes to a variety of corporate teams and projects, and is the leader of Burke’s Events Committee.   

Interested in reading more? Here’s more from the 90th edition:

The Value of Education in Research

Upholding Burke’s Legacy of High Quality Data Collection

You can also check out Madison and Sara’s other articles:

Maintaining Productive Habits in a Post-WFH World

Staying Positive, Staying Connected

As always, you can follow Burke, Inc. on our LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram pages.


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