Culture is a Competitive Advantage: A #SHRM19 Interview with Paul Yoachum of the Culture Works


“With the right people, culture, and values, you can accomplish great things.” – Tricia Griffith, American Businesswoman


The first national conference of any kind that I attended was the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition in June 2018 in Chicago. It was Sunday afternoon, I had just checked into the hotel and decided to check out the Expo Exhibit. So, I put on my headphones, walked to the closest shuttle stop, and took a ride to McCormick Place to do some exploring!

As the bus pulled into the McCormick Place drop-off location, I began to swell with excitement for my first annual SHRM Conference experience. And it didn’t disappoint! I was blown away, absolutely blown away as I walked the halls and entered the Expo Exhibit.

It was truly an awesome sight to behold: Isles and isles of booths and venders lined up for what seemed like miles! And the people! So many people! I couldn’t get enough. I had a permi-smile as I walked for what seemed like days exploring every booth and vendor I could! Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of products and services and people to see!

For first time attendees, and veteran attendees, the Expo Exhibit is a MUST SEE. You will learn so much just by walking around and taking in all the sights and sounds. It’s can’t miss.

After doing some research on the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) vendors, I came across a company called The Culture Works. As a self-proclaimed “culture geek,” I was intrigued and wanted to know more! So, I reached out to Paul Yoachum, Vice President of Marketing at the Culture Works, for an interview. Below is our exchange.

 In your best 30 second elevator speech, explain what The Culture Works is to the uninitiated. What’s your mission and vision?

Based on two decades of experience, and the results of workplace interviews with more than 850,000 people, our What Motivates Me Engagement training and All In Culture Training programs help managers and leaders create cultures where employees are engaged, enabled, and energized. In other words, they feel that what they do every day matters and makes a difference.

The Culture Works is also the creator of The Motivators Assessment, the world’s most extensive and scientific assessment to help individuals identify their unique blend of core motivators and put their passions to work.

On your homepage, the first thing that caught my eye was the tagline “Culture is EVERYTHING.” What do you mean by EVERYTHING? What does a great company culture look like to the Culture Works?

For many organizations, culture is one of the few competitive advantages left in business. By helping leaders within an organization understand the importance of organizational and team culture, we help them execute on critical business strategies. A positive culture can transform an entire organization and brand; yet it is one of the most elusive aspects of success. Few things have a bigger impact on performance than getting people to buy in to ideas and a cause.

How does the Culture Works help employers get there?

We conducted a global 300,000 person research study to discover what the best organizational cultures look like and created a model that any company can implement to create their own high-performance culture. Our All In Culture training takes helps leaders build specific action plans for their organization or teams from All In’s 7-step road map, which includes how to:

  • Define a burning platform
  • Create a customer focus
  • Develop agility
  • Share everything
  • Partner with your talent
  • Root for each other
  • Establish clear accountability

I’m a training and learning geek! So, I was excited to read about all the trainings and coaching sessions you offer. What types of trainings are the most popular requested by Culture Works clients? Why do you think that is?

Our What Motivates Me Engagement Training has been our most popular recently for a couple of reasons. First, every organization we work with is struggling with talent retention and facing challenges with turnover. If you look at why people leave a job, it’s typically because of their boss or because they feel stuck in their career. What motivates me and the motivators assessment tool address both of these challenges by giving individuals and managers the tools and skills to increase:

  • Engagement: Understand each employee’s productivity drivers and utilize them to enhance engagement, innovation, and growth
  • Alignment: Connect every employee’s work with their core motivators 
  • Teamwork: Build team unity by understanding each others’ synergies, cautions, and diversities
  • Career Development: Hold meaningful aspirational conversations to help employees build career paths and learn and grow 

What do you wish more HR professionals knew about the Culture Works client experience?

There are a lot of training programs that are very useful, but they aren’t very fun. And there are a lot of training programs that are fun, but aren’t very useful. We feel like we’ve struck a nice balance and learners love the programs. We also pride ourselves as being easy to work with. We very much view our relationship with our clients and a partnership that we’re in together for the long haul. 95 percent of our clients that train using our programs once, train their staff using them multiple times.

Can you describe your favorite success story with a client?

We have many, but one that comes to mind is a story from our client SirsiDynix. After going through the What Motivates Me program, they completely scrapped their annual review process and replaced it with regular Career Aspirational development meetings. So, their managers now hold one-on-one meetings with their staff, which has driven the business results they were looking for. You can watch the story here:

Where can we go to learn more?

Our website is a one stop shop. It has links to all our websites, as well as info on the business and all we can offer organizations.

Are you attending #SHRM19? Make sure to stop by booth #907 to learn more about The Culture Works.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: