What is an employee owned culture and how do you cultivate it to achieve lasting results?

I am a serial entrepreneur and have spent the last 25 years building successful companies (and some unsuccessful ones too). I began my entrepreneurial career building a Web development company in the mid 90s and made the transition to e-commerce in 2001 where I helped grow companies in the sporting goods and home furnishings industries.

I’ve found that the most important predictor of an organization’s long term success is the strength of its culture over time. In my experience, companies that cultivate a strong culture are a lot more fun to work at and outperform those that don’t value building a strong culture.

The first thing to know as a leader of any company is that you can’t dictate culture. A company’s culture is constantly evolving. New team members bring new perspectives and interests, some assimilate to the existing rituals and norms while others help move the culture in a new direction. So, from that perspective, I’d argue all cultures are employee owned.

Building a strong culture starts by measuring what matters, having a transparent dialogue and allowing our team to experiment. We use a combination of a weekly OfficeVibe surveys and a daily anxiety score check-in to measure overall employee engagement.

Our team openly discusses these results in our monthly town hall meetings as well as asynchronously through Slack proposing new experiments to combat any hot spots that we need to take action on. Some experiments work and some don’t but largely these experiments to improve our culture are ideas that originate with members on the team rather than being some brilliant insight from leadership.

Tools like OfficeVibe and TinyPulse make it so much easier than ever before to check the health of your culture.

Here’s a look at our overall employee engagement score over the last 12 months, which I feel is a proxy for the health of our company culture.

Notice the dip at the start of the pandemic. Like a lot of businesses it was a time of uncertainty and we had to let some well-liked people go, but we handled the communication around these decisions with respectful, honest communication and we bounced back.

Lately we’ve seen a bit of a downward trend in certain key metrics.

Culture Metrics

This is a current snapshot of our key employee engagement metrics and we are working to better understand the hot spots beneath these metrics and find ways to improve.

Culture Metrics Detailed


  • Strong culture = strong performance
  • Measure your culture
  • Communicate regularly, respectfully and honestly
  • Experiment with ways to strengthen your culture
Shilo Jones

Shilo has a passion for creating values-driven teams that love working together and are driven to continually improve.

Shilo has spent nearly two decades building e-commerce businesses starting with evo.com where he served as the President as well as holding leadership positions at DestinationLighting.com and GolfDiscount.com. Most recently, Shilo co-founded the performance marketing agency StatBid and home services company Zwell.