For creatives, workplace culture matters. It impacts everything from attracting and retaining top talent to progressing an organisation’s goals. A report by If You Could Jobs found that 87% of job seekers prioritise information about the company culture. Another study by Deloitte shows that a strong work culture is seen by 83% of executives as a key driver to sustaining a company’s success. It enables staff to perform at a high level and be committed to the company’s mission and values.
So, how do you build a compelling work culture that drives innovation? It’s no one thing. It requires defining shared beliefs and behaviours, enabling professional growth, building dynamic environments, caring for wellbeing and bringing people together. To illustrate, let’s take a look at how notable brands have made culture a priority.
United by Shared Values
Airbnb is a brand that exemplifies the power of a shared belief to shape workplace culture. Their mantra of ‘Belong Anywhere’ is a purpose both their customers and team are able to rally behind. It places value on the benefit of community and the impact those connections can make. The belief in belonging informs everything from how they conduct meetings to sharing news – it’s all grounded on the idea of being a welcoming, hospitable host.
A Culture of Professional Growth
3M has an initiative where staff are encouraged to spend 15% of their time cultivating and pursuing innovative ideas that excite them. It’s a licence to explore new processes, develop skills or challenge the status quo. The programme has led to the development of many new products including the ubiquitous Post-It Notes! The 15% policy has become central to 3M’s brand – helping them to attract like-minded employees in the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.
Built for Collaboration
In 2018, Facebook expanded their Menlo Park Headquarters in partnership with architect Frank Ghery. The design has mixed-use areas, space for deep focus and room for open collaboration. The expansive rooftop garden has meandering pathways and expansive views. The building contains various dining areas, art installations and social spaces. The environment is intentionally made to encourage chance encounters and interactions that foster collaboration, improve innovation and promote wellbeing.
A Healthy Investment
Johnson and Johnson have built an enviable reputation for caring deeply about the wellness of their staff. They have developed various initiatives to improve the social, mental and physical health of their team. The level of investment is comprehensive: it includes serving healthy food, counselling, on-site gyms, extended parental leave and financial planning services. Their focus on wellness benefits both the staff – who have 20% less hypertension than the national average – and the company – who reported a $2.71 return for every dollar spent.
A Community Connected
‘Slack’ brings people together through a messaging app for team collaboration. So, it’s no surprise that they value empathy and putting people first above all. Their approach to communication is to engage at a human level – speaking with courtesy and clarity. They emphasise relationships in their hiring process – from job listings to interview techniques. They genuinely seek people with diverse backgrounds who are interested in others, who love to build community and who care deeply about their users.
About now you might be thinking, you're not a billion dollar tech company with the resources to invest in these types of programmes. Fair point. Neither do we. At Strategy Creative, we’ve worked hard to build a culture that we can be proud of. We do it because we know that positive work culture is critical for creativity. For us, it’s about scaling the thinking and being creative with what we do have. Instead of a rooftop garden, we have a lot of office plants. Instead of 15% innovation time, we offer 5%. Instead of an inhouse gym, we have, erm, an industrial grade coffee machine (they’re the same right? Packed full of energy). For us, cultivating a great studio culture is an ongoing exercise that evolves and changes over time. Below are some of the practices we are most proud of.
United by Shared Values
We’re about doing the right thing for the planet, society, our clients and for each other. We like rising to the challenge, digging deep and getting emotionally and intellectually invested in the work. We delight in creativity, brave ideas and enchanting craft. We captivate audiences. Sharing stories that stick, that change the way we think and act. By living and breathing these values, we are able to do work that matters – creating change through the potent union of purpose and poetry.
We Prize Professional Growth
We stay open and curious, always learning, ever adaptable and ready for what’s next. One of our innovation initiatives is ‘Be Better’. This is time each week spent developing professional skills – upskilling on anything from copywriting and art direction, to animation or typography. We have various other ways to encourage development, including hosting Design Assembly industry meet-ups, a breakfast club for discussing new creative processes, internships for emerging talent and regular one-on-ones to facilitate career growth.
Our sun-filled design studios have been intentionally set up to facilitate collaboration and drive creativity. You’ll find dedicated areas to either sketch, focus or be messy. We use Refold standing desks for casual catch ups, Refold project boards for pinning up and discussing work, and Out Of Office for hosting workshops. The dynamic feel of our physical environment is also supported by tech. We use Slack for open, real time, inter-office conversations alongside various digital collaboration tools like XD or Mural.
A Tailored Approach to Wellbeing
We allow our team to choose when and where to work. Our focus on flexibility means being able to bring your dog to work or bring the kids to see the dogs. It’s working from home in trackpants or working late because you needed a little more sun at lunch. It’s cutting your hours back so you can study for your Masters or focus on your family. It’s work that works for you.
We work together and play together: connecting over lunch, Friday drinks, office playlists and away days. A team favourite is ‘Assembly’. Each month, we take time out to bond over eats and activities – appointing a duo to lead us in an evening of shenanigans. From costume parties, to quiz nights and Task-master, we take our play seriously.
If you boil it all down, we believe an innovative work culture starts with a well-defined brand. Brand values determine your purpose and how you live it. It’s the beating heart of work culture. Get in touch to find out how we can help define yours.