Isn’t company culture just a fancy way of saying, “we have a ping-pong table, we’re cool”? I always heard about company culture, but I never understood its importance. I now know that having a culture that fits who you are is the difference between high productivity and overall happiness, and..not that.
In my short time in the “real world” job life, I found 3 clear and obvious culture ideas that have made my work — and my life — super positive and productive. For context, my experience includes the service industry bartending and managing a bar, a corporate office job at a large company with nearly 5,000 employees, and now a pretty neat digital marketing agency.
I can only speak about what resonated with me, but I will say the ideas I’ll cover are what almost all of my peers seem to be seeking and/or thriving on.
Here are 3 culture habits that have changed my work and life for the better:
Sharing The Same Mission and Values
Sharing the same values and mindset as my colleagues has made a huge impact on my work life. We go over our core values once a week. Our values are things that play to the strengths of everyone on our team, and that we are all in agreement on about what is important to us as individuals, as well as the company.
Having a similar mindset as my team makes it easy to grow personally and professionally, together. To me, the people you work with every day is what makes the difference between a terrible, and great culture and work experience. I’ve worked with people who have lacked certain values such as humility, it’s tense and unpleasant. The average person will spend 1/3 of their lives at work. Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I’m grateful to be spending it with awesome people. (except you, Bryce)…(JK)
Having these defined values makes typically tough decisions way easier, including hiring, choosing a company to work with, and what type of work we’re doing and how we’re doing it. When unsure about a decision we ask ourselves how each option aligns with our core values and the right choice usually presents itself.
Freedom means lots of things. It means being trusted to get things done, not being micro-managed, and being able to take ownership of your work and time. We are expected to get a lot of work done, with quality results. How we get the work done is up to us. Freedom means being encouraged to be creative and to try new things, and with that, comes the freedom to occasionally fail. To confidently experiment with things outside of what we know works, takes trust from leadership and knowing that if an experiment fails, we’ll use it collectively to level up and learn from it.
Freedom also includes working from home. Not everyone likes working from home. Personally, it energizes me. The time and energy saved from getting ready and commuting, as well as the money saved for gas and parking really adds up.
There are countless studies showing the massive benefits of working from home for both the employee and employer. My favorite is this 2-Year Stanford Study which essentially puts the idea of being unproductive at home to rest. Researcher Nicholas Bloom states “We found massive, massive improvement in performance — a 13% improvement in performance from people working at home..almost a full day a week” The study found companies were additionally benefited by a 50% drop in people leaving.
Also, flexible hours has been a clear life improvement. Flex-time means employers aren’t super concerned about when you arrive or leave the workplace, only that you work the agreed upon hours per week, and that all of your work gets done.
This could mean working longer days Monday – Thursday and leaving early on Friday. Or taking an hour during the day on a Wednesday to get your oil changed. We all have families, life responsibilities, and personal obligations – If you’re driven, doing your job, and getting done what needs to get done, why shouldn’t work assist with making life less stressful? Here’s a study with statistics on flexible hours.
Encouragement & Positivity
I’ll never forget the time at a previous company when my colleagues and I accomplished a goal we came up with as a team, that hadn’t been done in our department in years. We all put in overtime to reach this landmark, and once it was completed, no one batted an eye.
At the time we didn’t think much of it. We weren’t looking for acknowledgment or a pat on the back. But after now being on a team that celebrates wins and radiates encouragement and positivity, it would be super hard to go back to an environment like that.
Recognition doesn’t need to be excessive by any means. But I will say an occasional acknowledgment of small wins is super powerful. Just a simple reassurance that you’re on the right path, doing the right things, and that your work is meaningful in some way makes all the difference.
A Cicero study in 2015 found the following results when employees were asked, “What is the most important thing that your manager or company currently does that would cause you to produce great work?”.
These are just three things that have made an impact on me at work. What has made the difference for you? Shoot me a message!