How Cisco Built (and Maintains) Its Winning Company Culture
cisco company culture

Learn From the Best: How Cisco Built (and Maintains) Its Winning Culture

With almost 10,000 Glassdoor reviews and a 93% CEO approval rating, Cisco’s Glassdoor page is a powerful recruiting and branding tool for the company. One quick scroll through the page shows why Cisco has seen almost three million pageviews in the past year—its employer brand permeates everything it does. From a fully built-out and branded Why Work For Us section to videos showcasing stellar employees and 3,000 benefits reviews, Cisco’s Glassdoor profile showcases what it values most: its people.

How Cisco defines its company culture

At Cisco, employer branding is all about seeing through the eyes of employees. When building its company culture, Cisco did what any great company does: ask its employees - creating “Our People Deal”. Cisco’s People Deal is an aspirational employee value proposition that outlines what Cisco expects of its employees—and what people can expect from Cisco, in return.

“Our People Deal” embodies three core principles:

  • Connect Everything
  • Innovate Everywhere
  • Benefit Everyone

[Related: Employers, learn the components that go into a great work environment and culture]

How does Cisco communicate this culture internally?

At Cisco, everything happens from the core, its people—as it should. Employees and the executive leadership team created “Our People Deal” together. Once it was developed, it was up to senior leaders to role model it and employees to understand their part in it; a company’s culture is not a program, but something created by the actions, decisions, and behaviors of every person within the company.

Executives at Cisco are employees, too, but they’re also a representation of Cisco’s culture. Executives frequently participate in the @WeAreCisco social channels (even appearing in the ‘wearecisco’ Snapchat story!) showing their commitment to the company and culture on a day-to-day basis- and they like to have fun with it!

How to deal with global expansion

Managing employees all over the globe—speaking different languages and living in different cultures—is no easy feat, as many companies as large as Cisco can easily attest to. That’s the exact reason why Cisco’s “People Deal” is a global agreement. In each Cisco office around the globe, the same values can be found.

However, Cisco takes the time to appreciate each unique culture and why it’s so special, which is an integral part of Cisco’s overall culture and how it views its employees. For example, in Cisco Japan, local customs are different and employees dress in business professional attire (as opposed to Cisco HQ, where engineers can often be found sporting jeans and t-shirts). While this part of Cisco’s culture in Japan may be different from offices in the United States, the values employees share are what bind them.

Wrangling in Cisco’s global employee base -- and social media usage

Employees at Cisco are all required to read and sign a Cisco Social Media Policy that outlines 10 common-sense practices. The Talent Brand team sums it up with this question, “Would you show your mom this? If not, don’t post it.” Cisco’s also holds internal social media trainings and even has a certification program to get all employees on board, up to speed and on the same page when it comes to what they should or should not post on social media. Cisco’s Talent Brand team builds on the Cisco training with videos on demand that explain how to use social to tell the world why they love working at the company, what’s in it for them, and the nuances they can use in each different channel.

The key to excelling in this is clear. It’s not just about how employees who post on social media about coming to work every day can help Cisco, it’s about how posting on social media can also help employees build their personal brand. With that in mind, Cisco’s Talent Brand Team clearly outlines what’s in it for employees.

Then, Cisco’s Talent Brand Team takes it one step further. It doesn’t just encourage its employees to use social media—it gives them the lock and key. In a recent initiative, The Talent Brand Team created a “wearecisco” Snapchat channel where employees sign up (months in advance, we might add) to “take over” the channel for the day, and show what life at Cisco is really like. The employees spotlighted on this channel are from all over the world, work in all different types of roles and departments, and are sometimes even company executives! This dedication to transparency and the focus Cisco puts on its employees is what Cisco’s culture is really all about. The only way Cisco’s Talent Brand team thought it could truly tell its employer story in this new social space was to give its most valuable asset—its employees—the keys.

Making the most of employee-generated content

Beyond its WeAreCisco Snapchat (and Instagram, and Twitter, and Facebook) channel, Cisco has a deep dedication to its Glassdoor profile and showcasing its culture there. About a year ago, Cisco noticed a top Google search for “Cisco jobs” was Glassdoor. The Talent Brand Team at Cisco realized they had to pay attention to this growing platform.

Cisco’s two main focuses on its global Glassdoor pages are content and building out new international profiles as it expands. Because of these efforts, in the past year alone Cisco has seen more than three million visits to its Glassdoor page, positioning itself as a true force to be reckoned with.

Glassdoor tips from Cisco

Cisco has done a few things to promote its employer brand and improve their company culture by using Glassdoor. First, Cisco posts regular Company Updates, often from the Talent Brand Team’s “Life at Cisco” blog, which again features stories sourced from and written by employees to engage new followers of the brand. Cisco also goes through its reviews each week and prioritizes responses. Lastly, Cisco goes above and beyond by asking employees to leave reviews on Glassdoor and post about their experience at Cisco on social media.

Advice for other companies
Cisco’s number one piece of advice? Actually listen to your employees. Listen, reach out and engage them! Your employees are your brand, and you can’t PR your way to a successful company culture or employer brand. It takes a truly transparent organization to go on Glassdoor, listen to what your people are saying, and do something about it.