Among professional circles, terms like “company culture” and “engagement” often get thrown around without much regard to what they actually mean for the organizations they represent. What’s more troubling is that when in pursuit of improving these vague terms, companies can fall into producing just as vague (and oftentimes counterproductive) solutions. In reality, culture and engagement aren’t at all about tracking dubious productivity statistics or implementing “cool” office perks like sparkling water fountains – they’re about the people that live, breathe, and work in your office. When you put your people first, you’re much closer to creating the engaged and passionate work environment of your dreams.
If you want to lead a culture that people are excited to work in, consider drafting up a culture strategy that addresses what opportunities, benefits, level of flexibility, and the kind of environment you want to provide. As each individual is unique and different companies may benefit more from certain initiatives over others, ask your team directly for suggestions. For example, you may find that people in your company thrive and produce better work when they’re given assignments that push their boundaries “slightly beyond” what they think they’re capable of.
Fulfillment also drives a positive company culture. A sense of fulfillment from one’s work can come from many things, but for a lot of people, it boils down to feeling like there’s a balance between one’s work life and personal life. As Claire Cain Miller and Sanam Yar of The New York Times note, “The rest of [peoples’] lives happens on their phones, not tied to a certain place or time — why should work be any different?” A flexible work schedule that allows for remote work and unlimited time off may not fit every office’s needs, but more and more companies are beginning to acknowledge the benefits such policies can have on their employees’ overall wellbeing and passion for their career.
In today’s competitive job marketplace, building a people-first culture can also do wonders for helping you acquire (and keep) the talent you want. A higher than average turnover rate can end up costing your business big bucks in the long-run, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain a culture that people want to work in. And despite common stereotypes, millennials and Gen-Zers aren’t the only ones who will choose to work for a company they perceive to have a healthy and agile culture over another. According to The New York Times, a survey by Werk found that older employees are “just as likely as younger people to want flexibility.”
When we prioritize people, everyone profits. And as we continue to move away from the confines of the traditional 9-5 workday, we come one step closer to building a better work culture for everyone. At the end of the day, people crave a feeling of fulfillment, autonomy, and belonging, and no amount of empty “perks” like free snacks and cool offices will produce that. Get real about asking what your employees need to not just work but thrive, and do your best to meet them where you can.
Eric Danetz is the Chief Business Officer at AccuWeather, the world’s largest and most accurate weather media company. Eric oversees all aspects of AccuWeather’s revenue-generating products and services, and unifies the sales structure internally for all AccuWeather business units, including digital media, traditional media, and AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions’ business-to-business services.
Prior to joining AccuWeather, Eric was SVP, General Manager at Time Inc. International, where he managed a multi-platform portfolio of more than 90 brands in 170 countries. Eric’s other previous roles include Group Publisher of Fortune & Money, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer at Alloy Digital, and executive leadership positions at Newsweek, The Daily Beast, CBS Interactive, CNET and Ziff Davis.