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Source | Gary Vaynerchuk 

About a year ago, when James Orsini joined VaynerMedia as our Chief Integration Officer (CIO), he was amazed at how low our voluntary turnover rate was. “What are we doing?” he asked me. My response? “We are an HR-driven organization.”

VaynerMedia is a private company, which means that I don’t have Wall Street breathing down my neck (so all my decisions don’t have to map out to 90-day profit behaviors). So, to build the company, I have to use the number one asset that I have: people and the relationships I have with them. In the past 7 years, VaynerMedia has grown from 20 employees to more than 600 across five different offices around the world. During that timespan, preserving company culture has always been the number one priority for me.

I truly believe that the continuity of a great team trumps everything. It’s just like in sports—a team that has been playing together for a long time usually beats a group of superstars that came together for just a season. And that’s what I aspire to build at VaynerMedia, a team that’s built to win for decades based on the continuity they have with one another.

Despite the movies and the media portrayals, having endless snacks and espresso bars aren’t what creates great corporate culture. You don’t get to claim that you have great culture just because you have an unlimited vacation day policy or an open floor plan.

Company culture stems from the top. That’s why I like to say that I am an HR-driven CEO—I am the head of HR as much as I am the CEO of VaynerMedia. It’s the best way I can communicate how strongly I care about my employees and how much I believe that a strong internal culture is the key to a company’s success.

I’m an HR-driven CEO—I am my company’s head of HR as much as I am its CEO.

Caring about your employees doesn’t just mean providing them with health benefits or 401(k) plans. When I say “I care about my employees,” I really mean it. I’m passionate about knowing each and every one of them as individuals.

The problem with a lot of companies is that HR comes second to their bottom line. Not only is it not a priority, but most companies act as if their employees all have the same driving motivations for working there: to make a paycheck and receive benefits.

But here’s the thing: You can’t put everybody in the same box—everyone is driven by different goals and aspirations. I recognize that my team of more than 600 people is driven by 600+ individuals who each have their own specific wants and needs. For example, I understand that some of my younger employees are motivated by money. I understand that others want a great work-life balance. I understand that the needs might be different for someone who just moved to New York versus someone who wants to start settling down. I care about what they care about. Why? Because life’s a value exchange—when you care about your employees, it translates into value they can give back to your company.

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