A strong company culture is no accident. It takes thoughtful intention, investment, and commitment to nurture. And in a world where remote and hybrid work continues to rise, culture can seem elusive. But there’s one simple yet profound fuel for culture that companies too often overlook: connection.
As Bruce Zicari, CEO of The Bonadio Group, shared in his interview with me, culture serves as the “secret sauce” for his firm’s impressive growth. The accounting and consulting company, with roots in upstate New York, has expanded from a startup to a national top 50 firm serving clients nationwide over the last 40+ years, The catalyst? “Our culture and our people,” said Zicari. And how does The Bonadio Group stoke its culture amidst growth and across 10 geographic locations? Through human connection.
The Power of Celebrating Together
Gathering people together to celebrate shared achievements and simply enjoy each other’s company works magic on culture. Bonadio’s annual “& More Day” in June draws all 1,000 employees together for a company-wide celebration after fiscal year-end. People travel from all offices for a day of acknowledging accomplishments, reconnecting, and having fun. For many, it’s their favorite day of the year.
The day fuels connection, which then strengthens collaboration and care. Zicari notices that the personal bonds formed during celebrations carry through to lift teamwork and service year-round, despite a hybrid work environment. Other cultural celebrations like holiday parties and “Purpose Day” where employees undertake community service projects also unite people in esteem and camaraderie.
The Power of Doing Together
Companies often believe simply socializing together strengthens bonds to benefit culture. But humans connect most deeply through shared meaningful experiences and accomplishments. When people work together to apply their diverse skills towards a common goal, magic happens.
The Bonadio Group’s expansive teams and lack of territorialism reflects this. All employees share a sense of collective responsibility for client success. Partners avoid silos and bring together the best-suited talent from across the firm to bear for any client’s needs. “We work as a team together to bring the best of the best,” noted Zicari.
The Power of Developing Together
Development is indispensable for a company’s health. And developing together beats going it alone. The Bonadio Group’s Future Leaders Academy, group mentorship program, and on-the-job peer learning enables employees to advance their skills and careers in the context of rich human relationships.
Employees crave career growth. Companies need employees’ continual growth and learning to stay competitive. But development without connection leaves both parties unsatisfied. Doing it together through shared challenges, wisdom, and wins benefits all.
Plus, the team spirit, care, and commitment strengthened through shared development directly transfers to client service. Zicari notices that Bonadio’s tight-knit teams and mentored employees deliver stellar care and loyalty to clients. They act as one, united organism in serving clients, not merely as individual contributors.
The Takeaway on Togetherness
In a dispersed workplace era, togetherness may seem impossible. But its cultural power remains undimmed. As leaders architect the future of their work, they would be wise to safeguard time and opportunities for people to connect together in celebration, work, development, and service. That’s why I recommend that my clients who I am helping figure out their hybrid work models have quarterly on-site events bringing their dispersed teams together to build trust and celebrate together.
The world moves fast. Markets shift overnight. Crises detonate constantly. Companies can endure it all with a culture rooted in the timeless nourishment of human relationships. Purpose fuels people. But purpose without shared human experience rings hollow. As Zicari put it, “Having that team environment, being together…we really believe there’s great value in it.” The greatest value of all might just be an unbeatable culture.
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Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on October 11, 2023