XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

XPG Insights

Staffing industry recruiting news, advice and thought leadership.

Site Search


Businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of fostering a motivated and engaged workforce. Beyond traditional incentives and perks, organizations may turn to a powerful tool: internal themes. These themes often align with company values, mission, and goals, creating a cohesive culture that resonates with employees. 

Purpose of Internal Themes 

  • Alignment with Values: Themes reflect the core values of the company, reminding employees of the principles that guide their work. For example, a company that values innovation might adopt a theme like “Pioneering Tomorrow” to encourage creative thinking and new ideas. 
  • Reinforcement of Mission: By tying themes to the company’s mission, employees can see how their daily tasks contribute to the larger objectives. A healthcare company might use a theme like “Caring Together” to emphasize their commitment to patient care and teamwork. 
  • Goal-Oriented Focus: Themes can highlight specific goals or strategic priorities for the year. For instance, if a company’s goal is to expand its market presence, a theme like “Expanding Horizons” can serve as a constant reminder of this objective. 

Examples of Successful Internal Themes 

Many companies adopt internal themes to inspire and motivate their employees. 
These themes often go beyond slogans—they shape company culture, drive employee engagement, and contribute to organizational success. Here are a few or our favorite examples: 

  1. Google: “20% Time”
    Google encourages innovation through its “20% Time” policy. Employees can spend 20% of their work time on projects they’re passionate about, even if those projects aren’t directly related to their job roles. This theme promotes creativity and has led to successful products like Gmail and Google News. 
  2. Salesforce: “Ohana Culture”
    Salesforce promotes an “Ohana Culture,” which means family in Hawaiian. This theme emphasizes trust, customer success, innovation, and equality. The company focuses on community and inclusivity, making employees feel like they are part of a family. 
  3. Zappos: “Delivering Happiness”
    Zappos uses the theme “Delivering Happiness” to inspire employees to provide exceptional customer service. This theme is integrated into every aspect of their work, from customer interactions to colleague support1. 
  4. Spotify: “Aligned Autonomy”
    Spotify’s theme of “Aligned Autonomy” allows teams to work independently while ensuring alignment with the company’s overall objectives. This approach encourages innovation and agility, giving teams the freedom to experiment and learn from failures. 
  5. Southwest Airlines: “Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, Fun-LUVing Attitude”
    Southwest Airlines fosters a unique company culture with its theme. Employees are inspired to work hard, serve customers with dedication, and maintain a positive and fun work environment. 
  6. Netflix: “Freedom and Responsibility”
    Netflix’s theme of “Freedom and Responsibility” empowers employees by giving them the freedom to make decisions while holding them accountable for outcomes. This encourages innovation and accountability within the organization. 
  7. Patagonia: “Do No Unnecessary Harm”
    Patagonia’s theme, “Do No Unnecessary Harm,” reflects its commitment to environmental responsibility. This theme motivates employees to think about the environmental impact of their actions and to work towards sustainable solutions. 
  8. HubSpot: “Grow Better”
    HubSpot uses the theme “Grow Better” to inspire both personal and professional growth. The company focuses on creating a supportive environment where employees can develop their skills and contribute to the company’s success. 
  9. LinkedIn: “Transformation”
    LinkedIn’s theme of “Transformation” focuses on helping professionals transform their careers and lives. Internally, this theme encourages employees to innovate and improve continuously, both personally and professionally.
  10. Pixar: “Story is King”
    Pixar emphasizes the theme “Story is King,” which highlights the importance of storytelling in their work. This theme inspires employees to focus on creating compelling stories and high-quality content. 

Benefits of Internal Themes 

Because themes usually resonate with members of a team, they can bring with them a host of benefits.  

  • Enhanced Motivation: Themes can boost morale and motivation by providing a shared sense of purpose. When employees feel connected to a common goal, their engagement and enthusiasm tend to increase. 
  • Cohesion and Unity: A well-chosen theme fosters a sense of unity among employees, creating a collaborative and supportive environment. This unity is crucial for maintaining a positive workplace culture. 
  • Clear Communication: Themes provide a simple and memorable way to communicate complex ideas. They can be used in internal communications, meetings, and events to reinforce key messages and priorities. 
  • Recognition and Celebration: Themes can also be used to recognize achievements and celebrate successes. For example, a theme like “Excellence in Action” can be linked to awards and recognition programs, highlighting outstanding performance. 

If a theme is done correctly, its impact can be far reaching fostering better teamwork, improving retention and resulting in higher production which contributes to the success of all.   

The Relentless Resolution Challenge:  

Pause for a moment and consider your team or company’s current theme. Reflect on how you incorporate it into your daily work routine. If you don’t have a theme yet, brainstorm some ideas that you believe could be beneficial, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Excerpt from the book:

COMMUNICATION: The Importance of a Theme

In our book, Relentless: Leading Through Performance, Relationships, and the Lessons of Sports, we use sports as a great example of focused communication. Good coaches develop themes that help their players stay focused on the big things that matter. 

When Barry Alvarez took on our football team, we didn’t have much talent. The only way to fix that was by great recruiting over several years. Until then, he focused on what he could control almost immediately: our readiness. His mantra was “Don’t Flinch,” which meant be ready, take things head on, and don’t back down. Above all else, it meant “be tough.”  

The beauty of that simple message was every one of us could relate to it in some way. For some guys, tough meant physical. They knew they could play hard and make an impact. For some, it meant mental toughness: I may not win, but you’ll never see me quit. For some, it meant resilience: I don’t get down about the last play, the last game, or our record; I focus on the here and now and go back out and go at it again. Not everybody could suddenly be the best at their position, but they could each be tough in their own way.  

The power of a theme is that it makes a statement about the focus of a team and the things that are important. No one is confused by the messaging when it is stated everywhere: on walls, signage, and even helmets. When Alvarez stated he was looking for tough guys, no one hesitated to yell, “Toughen up!” to someone who started to wimp out on a drill. 

If you’re an Atlanta Braves fan, you’ve been seeing a team that’s winning (as we write this, they’re 20-9 and leading the NL East) through both skills and connection. Each year, the team develops hand signals that symbolize their team’s theme for the year. This year, when a player gets a hit, he’ll raise both arms above his head, linking the fingers together. Coach Eddie Perez says the new celebration means “Together – we’re a unified group.” With the team’s overall theme, “World Series or Bust” mantra, togetherness is the only way they’re going to get there.  

Choosing a mantra, a theme, or a tagline for your team can be a powerful communication tool. Whether it’s for a season or quarter (Finish strong!) or for a transitional period for the company (Two Brands, One Team), your theme can give the whole company a way to feel more united and committed.

Rich Thompson, Founder of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development.  He is also a former All-Big Ten football player for the University of Wisconsin.  XPG Recruit provides recruiting for staffing companies.  The XPG Recruit Athlete division places former athletes into business careers and works closely with universities through its sister company, Podium X.