There are topics that hit the news cycle and while often dissected over and over again, they illuminate themes of society at that point in time, often focusing on major shifts in the status quo. The pandemic upended our lives in almost every way, and provided an opening for the average office worker to reassess their priorities; shift through the noise and distractions of the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives; and demand better. And so, over the past two years, we have made sour dough bread and quit our jobs.
The Great Resignation saw people by the millions quitting their jobs, with nearly 48 million in the USA alone resigning from their position in 2021 with no slowing down in sight. While these high numbers haven’t quite reached Canada, a growing number of people report looking for new work (nearly half of Canadians) and prioritising their health and wellbeing — as well as their family, friends, and personal lives — over their career. As we slowly return to life before COVID, experts predict seeing a rise in resignations both in the USA, Canada and on a global scale.
The person writing this article on behalf of Brash isn’t part of the Great Resignation. But she’s quit a couple jobs in her lifetime and knows firsthand the enormous impact that a company culture will have on employee retention— on both sides of the spectrum. For her, and based on from feedback from her colleagues, what keeps the Brash team coming back every day is the culture. For us, our enjoyment of our job and sticking around isn’t about the money. That was never even mentioned when we’ve discussed working at Brash. Really, why we voluntarily show up every day is also what sets us apart. It also makes us good at what we do and our collective superpower as a company. It’s who we are. It’s the culture. It’s Brash.
But culture isn’t just the tone set by the leadership. Building a company culture expands beyond stating, “this is the kind of company we are”. I’ve worked at companies that decided what kind of culture they were, and everything they did reflected the polar opposite. The people signing the cheques, and their names on the insurance documents are absolutely integral in creating and maintaining the company culture. These are the people that decide what kind of company they want to lead, but really that’s just the beginning of it. You need follow through and a creation of supporting systems, procedures, and your own day-to-day leadership consistently reflecting these values.
For example, with Brash, each of us have a high degree of autonomy in our roles and how we approach them. Employees choose when we work, where we work, and how many hours we put in on a given week. All with the underlying assumption that we will work on our projects, meet deadlines, show up for meetings, and produce excellence. The underlying value here being that this system of autonomy only works because not only does leadership trust each member of the team, but we trust them and one another. And with that shared trust comes other bonus side effects like providing and receiving feedback on projects without animosity, a team-oriented approach and mutual respect. The trust goes beyond getting the work done, it's reinforced in how we communicate with one another and the intention behind individual action. We trust that our conversations, our feedback and our actions are centred on making something better, helping each other grow, and trusting that it’s all done with good intention. We have the option of working remotely 100% of the time, and the locally based team members show up to the office nearly every day, because we like coming to work. There’s sparkling water, a sense of camaraderie, and a high degree of respect and appreciation for one another starting at the top and flowing through each of us.
There is no perfect office culture for the record. Some people thrive in an environment with strict hierarchies, formalities, and corporate structure that dictates by the book adherence. Which is fair, you know exactly what is expected of you and can rely on rules and structure to support your decision making. There is nothing wrong with enjoying that, and if it helps you succeed and creates an environment of safety where you can accomplish your work without needing a stiff drink after, good on you. But that brings us to our next point…
Picking the right people to join your company is going to greatly impact the culture, but don’t pick all of the same person, that’s insane. It shows you just want people that all think the same and don’t challenge anything. Good people come from all kinds of backgrounds, have varying types of experiences, and approach problems in different ways. Understand what matters to your company. What are you trying to achieve, and what are the values of your company? These are deep questions that form the basis of a culture. It doesn’t matter if an employee is a big picture thinker vs the nitty gritty type, you need all sorts to make a company work. If everyone is a big picture thinker, no one is going to remember to register with the city or get the right permits. But the values of your company are the nonnegotiable, if you want a company full of people that value learning because your company is in a position where constantly learning is part of the value system and integral to the company’s success, then hire someone that sees value in that. But it shouldn’t matter if they’re introverted or extroverted or like to do CrossFit. What do they bring to the table to move the mission of the company forward and do they align with the big picture values?
We’re not experts in company culture, or HR specialists at Brash. But we’ve learned what works for us. Similar to how we approach designing our products, our culture of putting people first has resulted in the same kind of success. What creates a good product is focusing on the experience for the user, and what creates a good company is focusing on the people that make it up. Invest in people and the clients, profits, growth, increased revenues, customer satisfaction, etc. will all follow.
We do know a lot about creating good products though, and putting the user (typically people) first when creating them. You can always reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org at any point in your product development journey. We may not be able to develop your office culture, but we can certainly use ours to craft innovative products with some style.
It’s not just a product, it’s our passion.