There’s a Big Advantage in a Freedom-Centric Workplace Culture

Creating a great workplace culture that is employee focused is hard — worthwhile and hard.

Creating a freedom-centric culture is also worthwhile. And that’s even harder to do, because it is focused not just on creating a culture that is based on trust, it is focused on creating a culture without fear.

WorldBlu is an organization dedicated to developing world-class freedom-centered (rather than fear-based) organizations and leaders. Their vision is to see a billion people leading and working in freedom.

Founder and CEO Traci Fenton has spent 20 years studying the effects of freedom in organizations and has come to agree with leading thinkers and scholars like Warren Bennis, Philip Slater, and others, that democracy in the workplace is inevitable because “it is the most efficient social system in times of unrelenting change.”

The impact of culture on business performance

Traci and her team have just published the results of some interesting analysis in a report titled, Freedom at Work: Growth & Resilience (With the subtitle, An Empirical Analysis of How Freedom and Democracy in the Workplace Impact Business Performance.)

If you’re convinced, as I am, that corporate culture impacts business performance, then this analysis will be of great interest.

Each year since 2007, WorldBlu has published its list of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces. In that time, more than 130 companies in every industry that range in size from five to more than 60,000 employees from all over the world have met the standard to become WorldBlu certified. Companies like DaVita, Menlo Innovations, Glassdoor, WD-40, Great Harvest Bread Company and, yes, Zappos, all proudly claim to be cultures free from fear.

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Freedom at Work: Growth & Resilience looks at WorldBlu certified companies and how they fared in terms of s growth and survival during and after the Great Recession of 2007. The data is impressive. S&P listed companies’ revenue growth rate during the three-year period of 2010- 2013 – the end of the downturn and beginning of the recovery — paled in comparison to that of WorldBlu certified companies during the same period.june-16-2015-worldblu-1

june-16-2015-worldblu-2Significant results

As the report states, 2007-2011 were bleak years for businesses and their employees, and many businesses around the world failed, closed their operations, or sold out. Case studies from Menlo Innovations and DaVita are fascinating examples of organization leaders who take their commitment to culture several steps further than creating trust between leadership and employees.

They truly approach their entire ecosystem in a democratic fashion and the results were significant. You really should get the WorldBlu report and take a look.

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.


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