What is a Culture Council?

How do you maintain a company culture when you grow from a handful of employees to 250+ fully remote team members over the course of a few years? Can it survive through not only hyper-growth, but canceled in-person retreats and the stress of a global pandemic? We think so – and we have the employee feedback to back it up. 

Once a month, a small group of Recharge employees from all departments meet for an hour to talk about our company’s culture: what we’re doing well, what we could do better, and how to implement new ideas. We push these recommendations up to leadership, and we often help turn these ideas into new company policies or activities. 

This initiative has been around in some way or another since the inception of Recharge. We changed it from an informal “Culture Club” to our official title, “Culture Council” where we have a defined mission statement and take monthly meeting notes. 

We asked Evangeline, one of the initial informal culture enthusiasts, to share a little bit about the early days when the Culture Council was born. She was drawn to Recharge due to the emphasis on people, empathy and culture. Back then, you knew every single individual in the company personally, and probably knew the pets that dropped in on Zoom meetings by name. 

The initiative grew naturally among coworkers who really cared about preserving and sustaining that level of trust between team members. As the company continued to grow, they realized that while that level of intimacy was no longer a given, new opportunities also arose – more robust benefits packages, as well as health and wellness initiatives, to name a couple. It became apparent that ultimately it is the employees who build a company culture, so the Culture Council was formed to ensure Recharge was prioritizing their employees and their relationship to the company and its goals. 

In its current iteration, our group of 10 includes representatives from each department who really get how important culture is. We keep our ears to the ground to see how our teammates are doing, and after our meeting, we get busy working on and updating our teams on any new initiatives we’re rolling out. 

Some of the initiatives that the culture council has pushed through have included: 

  • Pulse check surveys and ongoing feedback from the wider company.
  • Weekly open check-in calls to see how everyone is doing.
  • Virtual all-staff and departmental retreats. 
  • Women’s Empowerment Day, which is a yearly open event for anyone in the company to join, with special speakers, both internal to the company and external. 
  • Lightning talks where co-workers volunteer to talk about something they’re passionate about. Topics have included how to be an active listener, how to get the most out of your first 90 days at Recharge, winemaking, jazz dance, and leadership.
  • Using Kiva.org to help fund loans for entrepreneurs in underserved communities.
  • Weekly on Thursdays, someone in the company volunteers to host Pub Trivia. The host creates the questions and fierce competition between departments ensues. 
  • Health and wellness initiatives, including a speaker who has given a talk on mental health and offered her services up to anyone who could use them (courtesy of Recharge), virtual drop-in yoga classes, fitness challenges, and a stipend to help improve our physical health.  

We also discuss ongoing topics such as this blog you’re reading now, our Instagram account @RechargePayments, company swag and onboarding gifts for new hires, social Slack channels, and global holidays. We’re starting a new initiative this quarter where two members of the council will meet with new employees after they hit their 60-day mark and gather feedback on their feelings about Recharge’s culture so we can continue to make improvements. 

One thing we reference often at Recharge is the Peter Drucker quote “culture eats strategy for breakfast” — our Culture Council strives to make sure that sentiment stays alive.