How to create an award-winning workplace culture

Posted On February 2, 2023

Building a strong workplace culture within your business has always been an important element of success. It may even be more important now,  in a competitive job market where potential employees have the luxury of finding a workplace that best suits them.

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” has shown a proven talent in building a strong workplace culture. Patrick Werrlein is the president and owner of Swagelok’s sales and service center in Birmingham, and his company was recently named one of Business Alabama’s Best Companies to Work For in Alabama.

Swagelok specializes in tube fittings, valves, hoses and other fluid systems and connectors, and its products are used everywhere from your local craft brewery to the International Space Station. “We help customers move fluid through some of the most critical applications in the world,” Werrlein said.

Werrlein says Swagelok Alabama has come a long way in the six years he’s been there. While already a “well-oiled machine,” he saw that the company culture needed enhancement on his arrival and set about to make it happen.

To that end, he said there are three initial steps:

  • Identify who you are and who you want to be.
  • Find out if you have the right people on the bus.
  • Determine whether they’re in the right seats.

Involving employees in the first step was important, he added, but the second and third steps did not come without some pushback. “As you can imagine, when you’re trying to create change you have to be very intentional, especially when you’re bringing in new personnel,” he said. ‘Because everyone’s looking.

“The key is to build trust. Finding small little incremental wins where you can get them to see where you’re doing the right thing for them and the organization, you get more buy in.”

Ultimately, Werrlein added, it comes down to empathy. Your employees have to believe you have their best interests at heart in order for a healthy workplace culture to take root. Werrlein’s company accomplishes this in a variety of ways, from career-mapping exercises that identify employees’ career goals and strategies to achieve them to weekly drawings for the ability to leave two hours early on Friday to simple acts like sending birthday cards to the children of employees.

“People want to belong to an organization that has a family-like feel to it,” he said. “So many companies micromanage their people. I think you have a people problem if you have to micromanage. At the end of the day, you should hire people who naturally want to be better, and they naturally want the company to be better.”


Categories: Blog, Podcast, What's Working with Cam Marston, Workplace