“When people love their work and their workplace, when they trust each other, when they have pride not only in what they’re doing but also in what everyone is doing together, you have a workplace that is productive, effective, efficient, successful and irresistibly great.” —Lolly Daskal, President and CEO, Lead From Within
Deloitte University Press | DUPress.com
Last summer, a group of Bulldogs attended the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work award luncheon. When we saw all the cool things companies like WP Engine, Kasasa and Spiceworks were doing to stand out, our leadership team started to think—how can we be among the best? How can Bulldog Solutions become a more irresistible place to work?
And so began the process of zeroing in on a clear intention for how we would create a better workplace. From then to now, we’ve researched, built a committee, created new policies and set up an infrastructure to get there.
We started by gathering research from Deloitte and other consulting firms as well as highlights from The Great Workplace. We learned what it takes to attract, retain, build and develop an organization that naturally keeps everyone motivated, engaged and satisfied.
We believe healthy growth in our employees will promote healthy growth in our company. So, we pulled it all together in a way that focuses on each employee and their overall well-being. We call it the Irresistible Workplace, and it consists of five pillars:
- Meaningful work. Empower people with autonomy, and they will not sit still. People are not inherently lazy, as Daniel Pink, who gave the now infamous Ted Talk and wrote the best-selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, so expertly pointed out.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow, the goal is to cultivate an environment that “stretch[es] our limits…to accomplish something difficult and [at the same time] worthwhile.”
- Autonomy: The desire to direct our own lives—where, when and how people get work done
- Mastery: The urge to always get better
- Purpose: The wish to work in service of something larger than ourselves
- Hands-on management (without micromanaging). We hire great people and give them both the space and attention they need through coaching, mentoring and one-on-one discussions. Modern performance management, the traditional and dreaded annual review process, is broken, outdated and ineffective—both for the organization and in creating employee engagement. Therefore, we’ve redefined what this means for us, and it includes:
- Making organizational goals everyone’s goals: By aligning companywide goals to departmental and individual goals, each person can make an impact on Bulldog getting to where it wants to go.
- Providing regular feedback: Biweekly one-on-one meetings between managers and employees to discuss progress help us stay focused and on track, as opposed to bringing it up months later to ask, “Did you grow over the course of the year?”
- Developing employee leadership: Through coaching, feedback, clear and transparent goals, and access to learning and training opportunities, employees can grow in their leadership skills.
- Positive work environment. A healthy work-life balance is key to the Irresistible Workplace. If employees spend almost as much time at work as they do at home, we want to make the time spent at work as enjoyable as possible.
That’s why we celebrate all wins, big and small. With our employee recognition system (YouEarnedIt, annual employee awards (voted on by employees), a new bring your dog to work policy, a guilt-free time off policy with unlimited PTO, yearly events like our famed Golden Mic, volunteer days and a kitchen stocked with HEALTHY foods and snacks, we’re hoping to provide an environment that’s fun and inclusive.
- Growth opportunities. Since we work in an industry that’s constantly changing, we embrace a culture of learning. Whether that’s attending conferences, like Oracle MCE or Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, getting certified in new areas or taking classes to master new skills, we acknowledge that we won’t grow as an organization if new schools of thought are not added to the team. This goes right along with the hands-on management, coaching and performance management mentioned previously and other development opportunities (Friday Morning Live, Lynda.com, lunch and learns, etc.).
- Trust in leadership. Our executive team prides itself on being transparent. Quarterly updates from our leadership team help give a big-picture look at how the agency is doing. It’s important that our C-team not only communicate that they have our best interests at heart, but also show it by walking the talk. However, the same mission, purpose, honesty, transparency and inspiration we feel from those we look up to must be embraced and exemplified by every staff member.
And to measure our success (because if Marketing has taught us one thing in the HR department here at Bulldog, it’s how vital tracking our efforts is), we started collecting annual (anonymous) surveys from our team. These allow us to gauge where we are, how we are doing and where there are opportunities for change. Then, we use this data to develop action plans for the following year.
With these elements in place and a continual focus on constantly improving, we seek to achieve more as an agency. By supporting and enhancing our culture with this vision in mind, we will be able to deliver more value to our clients, thus building on our reputation and attracting new clients along the way. This is not called the perfect workplace, as we all know there is no such thing. However, in establishing these core characteristics as a focal point, our hope is that current, future and maybe even past employees will always remember and regard Bulldog as an Irresistible Workplace.