Here at AKHIA, we are used to presenting to clients. Typically we present on business strategy, marketing campaigns or communications plans. But a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to present on something that we are very proud of—our culture.
It’s no surprise to hear that the average person works a lot, whether in or out of the office, and most people are constantly connected to their jobs. Not to mention that within the next decade, the millennial generation will be leading more companies and will make up a higher percentage of the workforce; they are accustomed to a different work atmosphere and expect fresh ideas from their employers. So companies and business leaders are being challenged to find new and different ways to make employees happy outside of the traditional perks (the pizza party) and to figure out what will make their company culture a success.
While we used our own AKHIA culture as a starting point for this presentation, we also dug into our research to see what other companies feel is the recipe for a successful culture. Is it the open-executive presentations that Google offers, the fact that GM provides wellness initiatives, or the open-air working spaces at Facebook? Is it leadership opportunities or giving employees the flexibility to find a balance between work and their personal life? While there are many ways to create and define a company culture, what we have found to be consistent is that culture has to happen organically, needs to be unique to the company and it has to feel authentic to anyone that walks in the door.
AKHIA is 60-people strong and was founded by a female CEO 20 years ago. From the very beginning, she made it her personal mission to create an organization in which her employees could achieve greater career success while having the time and flexibility to nurture their personal lives. With continued growth and energetic new leadership, this mission shines through in our culture and our values.
Our culture presentations were given to a room full of clients on the final leg of their three-day communications team workshop. This group is helping to shift the culture of their company on a broader scale, while guiding the organization through the bigger picture of industry transformation. During our presentations, it was interesting to see how intrigued they were with our culture while immediately thinking of ways to scale it for themselves, even though our companies are extremely different (corporate vs. agency, 10,000 employees vs. 60, multiple locations globally vs. one office/one location).
One example that stood out was when a member of the communications team brought up a challenge he has in that he is missing the opportunity for “water cooler” talk with colleagues as many of his team members sit in different locations. These are the kinds of chats that are less formal and which actually lead to more action because a natural ideation or collaboration happens. We discussed some tools to bring people closer figuratively if not literally, such as Lync, IM, Skype and more. Further brainstorming led to something as simple as an email to a large group to get a call for ideas—allowing for the opportunity to get the perspective from other counterparts that you wouldn’t normally talk to on a daily basis. This reinforces the idea that being a collaborative culture should remove any sort of physical barriers to conversation.
Simply talking and ideating with colleagues aren’t novel ideas but when we examine them in terms of culture they become a revelation. It’s not just talk; it’s how everyone communicates. With the right team and values in place, even simple tools can become effective and communication becomes stronger.
Creating a strong culture and providing the right communication tools are vital to the success of any business but they require time, nurturing and listening to employees.
How do you use communications and culture to strengthen your business?
Kasey Bertolino is Senior Account Executive at AKHIA.