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Building a Magical Culture without the Disney Budget

Some companies have cultures we crush on. (And I don’t say this lightly because we have it pretty great here at Patrick Payroll!)

But let’s face it, with perks such as on-site foosball, gyms and car washes or free gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner (we’re looking at you, Google!), some workplaces feel more like Disneyland than work. (Actually given the fact that Facebook’s campus was partially inspired by Main Street in Disneyland, this is not a stretch!)

Odds are you can’t offer all of this to your team (yet!), but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from these company culture icons and can bring some of the magic to your own business and implement some of their ideas on a more manageable scale.


This media giant offers unlimited parental leave and their CEO reportedly takes six weeks of vacation a year (and encourages his employees to do the same!) How’s that for work-life balance? And considering Netflix is on pace for record profits in 2018, time off is certainly not hurting their business!

Message: We value family and time away from work to recharge and it starts at the top.

How you can replicate this: Just because you may not be able to make such a generous offer doesn’t mean you can’t make your business more family-friendly. These might include flexible hours so a parent can leave a little earlier to make his daughter’s volleyball game or designating a private area for a new nursing mom to pump, making her transition back to work less stressful.

Only 23% of employees are taking their eligible time off. Have a culture that encourages vacation and set the example. If you never take off, your team isn’t going to feel the freedom to.


Among the list of big benefits Google offers are a gym with free workout classes, as well as cooking classes.

Message: Your health and well-being matter.

How you can replicate this: Find a walking trail close to your office and get out there as a team a few times a week. Benefits include fresh air, a brain break and team-building. Other options include inviting a fitness instructor to teach a class at your office once a week or approaching a local gym about free passes or a company discount.

United Shore

This mortgage lender has its own on-site “escape room” where team members use their mortgage prowess and team-building skills to find clues and solve puzzles in a designated amount of time.

Message: Training and team-building are important but they don’t have to be a snooze.

How you can replicate this: Think outside of the box! (Or is it in the box?!) A conference room, stale danishes and an equally stale PowerPoint presentation don’t have to be the default for team trainings. We have taken our team to a local escape room for team-building fun. Or how about a Game Day at the office where teams compete in Pictionary, Taboo or a mind-bending puzzle? Not only will your team members need to work together, communicate and problem solve, but laughter is pretty much guaranteed.

St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

We had to throw in a local favorite, one that has received national recognition for its culture. Among reasons employees love to work at St. Jude’s is their connection to its mission of helping children with serious medical illness.

Message: Your work makes a difference.

How you can replicate this: While your business’ mission may seem less noble, it doesn’t mean your work isn’t important. You must be intentional to communicate to your team how they impact the mission and goals of your business or else they’re just punching a clock. Need something a little more altruistic? Take time to give back to your community by serving at a soup kitchen or cleaning up a local park together.

The Bottom Line

You don’t need a billion-dollar budget to encourage work-life balance, reward hard work, build your team and give back. You might need time, however. Let us take some of your tedious payroll and HCM tasks off your plate so you can build a culture that attracts and keeps a winning team who knock your business’s goals out of the park.