There was a time where an office was an office and pretty much looked the same no matter where you worked. Today, however, an office space is designed to reflect the culture of an organization: the personality of the team, the mission of the business, and how the teams work together. This puts greater pressure on offices to not only support employee productivity, but also communicate and amplify employer values.
At OrderGroove, where I serve as the VP of People, we recently renovated our office. As we conceptualized and designed our new space, we wanted to ensure that our company values were infused throughout. Our Culture Ambassador found creative ways to display our values within the theme of every room: displaying records in our Groovy conference room or subway signs printed with the values in our FiDi conference room. To represent our value of “What you see is what you get,” we have a wall full of baby pictures of all our team members. To inspire others who are looking to bring their values and workspaces together I spoke to four People and Culture leaders about what they have done at their companies.
A lot of great companies have recognition and award programs based on the demonstration of company values. At ?What If! Innovation Partners Talent Manager Matt O’Donnell explained that it's important that the presentation of the award also reflects their culture. “We do a mock late night show. Each leader comes up and gives out an award for one of our values, based on peer nominations. The winners get a cash prize, an extra day of PTO, and their photo is then hung in the office throughout the year. When we give tours of the office we stop and talk through our values and example of people that embodied them.” Recognition programs that also have an ongoing visual component will remind people every day what “living the values” looks like at your company.
Catch them in the act
Often when companies roll out values, they will handout placards or mugs, something with the values printed on them that sits on employees' desk and collects dust. At IAC Applications, Deborah Josephs, their Chief People Officer, wanted to make sure the new values were part of employees’ everyday life.
“We gave each employee two sets of cards that have our values, with definitions, and our mission statement. One set was for them to hang at their desks and one set was to hand out when they witness someone demonstrating that value. They take a selfie with the person they gave the card to and post it in Slack. Even if they run out of cards, we still ask that they give the #yourock shout out in Slack. It encourages people to not only live the values, but call out the impact living the values can have on their peers.” These cards motivate the team through the feeling of recognition and the visual reminders they see as they walk around the office.
Everywhere you look
The team at Teachable is driven every day knowing their platform not only impacts their customers, but also the millions of users that learn something new in one of their online courses. Casey Kwon, Office & Culture Manager, shared how that passion for making a difference is demonstrated throughout their office space.
“We want it to feel like you are at Teachable, not just any start up office in NYC. Around the office we have several murals that reflect our clients to remind us why we do what we do. Some are created by our clients that we have commissioned. One encompasses customer testimonials. In our boardroom an artist painted the wall with NYC scenery and it includes 'easter eggs' of details only Teachable employees would recognize.” These visuals serve as constant reminders of the difference your work makes and therefore energizes the team every day.
Make it feel personal
One of the biggest impacts of defining your company values is to create a common language about what is important and expected at your organization. The more ways you use that language, the more it becomes part of the genuine culture and not just words on the wall.
Catie Case, Culture and Events Manager at Cadre, shared one example of how they tied their values to some of their employee celebrations. “We work to tie our values to our traditions and events by incorporating verbiage or messaging when possible. To give a clear example, we created custom cards to place on each employee's desk on their birthday, and we used this as an opportunity to tie into one of our values. The card reads 'We take pride in working with the best people, thank you for being one of them’, which is one of the statements that supports the core value of putting the team first."
You don’t have to create large, robust, complicated programs or office renovations to demonstrate your values. Sometimes the simple birthday card can go a long way to make sure your values are part of people’s DNA.
Whether it’s as grandiose as an office redesign or custom mural, or tailoring a card or award ceremony to reflect your company and your employees, there are multiple approaches you can take to align your office and your company values. Inspired by my peers, this year at OrderGroove we’ll be adding a “Groovy wall,” where we’ll highlight the winners of our peer nominated values recognition program. Hopefully this will inspire people to go above and beyond to live our values and to know that it makes an impact for others when they do.
OrderGroove image by Basicspace.