Culture is the single most important characteristic of a company, according to York Solutions CEO Richard Walker. It influences everything from hiring decisions to strategic goals, and it must be prioritized for individuals and the organization as a whole to succeed.

“Culture is all about people,” said Walker. “A company’s culture has to match up with the people who work there – what the company does, how it operates. If the culture doesn’t align with employees’ core values, it’s not the right fit, and it’s time for them to move on.”

In York Solutions’ Link to Leadership Program, IT professionals who want to develop their capabilities as IT leaders, complete a curriculum of six classes over the course of six months. The second class, which focuses on defining an organization’s culture, is eye-opening for many participants, said Walker.

“It’s amazing how many light bulbs go on for people during that session,” he said. “Quite a few have left their companies after attending because they realized that they were just not in the right place.”

Two common questions that comes up during the training are: What is culture? How do you create a company culture?

“Culture has to start at the top,” said Walker. “And at York Solutions, we want to build a company where people actually want to come to work. We have a term that I coined a few years back: relationship equity. With equity, you put money in and can draw on it when you need to. Relationship equity is the same. You’re not just doing your job; you’re also putting effort in to help those around you be successful – in an authentic way, not because you want something back in return.”

Relationship equity manifests itself in many different ways at York Solutions, both internally and externally. Within the company, people want to help their colleagues because it’s good for individuals, but also good for the entire organization.

“Those who do well at York fundamentally believe they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves,” said Walker. “If every single person is functioning at the highest level, then the company is better for it. They have to understand which piece of the puzzle they have and how that impacts other people. It’s crucial that they grasp how their role and their actions impact the people around them.

Outside the company, York Solutions employees demonstrate relationship equity through the company’s mission: making a positive impact on the lives of everyone who crosses their path.

“People don’t just understand relationship equity, they live it,” said Walker. “Our office is designed with that in mind. Our business is tough, and we work hard to produce for our clients. But people also need to blow off steam and have fun, and we designed an office space where people want to come.”

The office’s fun room is a place where people ­– employees, clients, consultants, even family members – do want to spend time. On weekends or evenings or during daytime breaks, it is full of people playing pool or shuffleboard, working on their swing on the golf simulator, watching TV, or grabbing a drink at the bar. Clients often choose to hold events there, free of charge, and one well-known CIO even decided to throw his retirement party in the space.

“It’s warm and inviting, and it reflects the culture we’re building here,” said Walker.

Learn more about York Solutions’ culture.