So, the Australian Financial Review nom’d us as “best Australian workplace to work in 2020” … and once I’d recovered from the initial shock? I accepted this, because … #deserved, actually.
The thing is, I always imagined the workplaces nominated for big-deal-acknowledgements like an AFR “best Australian workplace to work in 2020” were the workplaces I see lookin’ all shiny on Instagram, with kitchens that have taps that have 24/7 champagne flowing from them [I’m not lying guys … there’s a business that I follow on Instagram that has this].
Realistically, I know I could never be that business. I don’t want to be. Truthfully? I couldn’t help but feel I’m perpetuating a culture of binge drinking that’s already so problematic within Australia as it is.
And the real thing about all o’ this is, that your people don’t really want taps that 24/7 pour Dom Perignon … they literally [quite literally] just want to be celebrated for the human beings that they are, and the subsequent human being they individually bring to your workplace.
And so today I wanted to pen the x5 things I’ve learnt in x5 years that have lead to the building of a workplace that has now been recognised by the Australian Financial Review as being “one of the best Australian workplaces to work in 2020”.
Ensure yours is a workplace where people feel like they can bring their whole selves to work.
When anyone joins our team? We ask them to fill out an “about me”, which goes into a book we’ve put together > with the view to turn it into a hard cover book > so that anyone can flick it open on a day they need to understand a person within our workplace a little [or a lot] better.
In that book? There’s a photo of “baby them” next to “grown up them”, because we love the beautiful reminder that – once upon a time – baby them aspired to be grown up them, and here they are … doing the “working life” component of adulthood within our workplace, and having chosen to be here.
I guess we just feel like a human-centred workplace is the only kinda workplace we want to have been involved with creating, and so this book and its intention? … it’s about getting to really know your fellow colleague / figure out the best approach to working with them really well [yes, even if you have polar opposite personalities].
We believe in really getting to know each other, and respecting how differently we’ll all operate here … and so we pull of these good questions [and answers] into a book so that it comes we understand each other.
It’s questions like: “I’m motivated by …”, “something that drives me nuts is …”, “my quirks include …”, “qualities I value in people are …”, “Things that people might misunderstand about me that I need to clarify are …”, “Conditions I like to work/thrive in …”, “When I’m misunderstood it looks like …” etc.
And the thing is this, this book ain’t just for the new starters … it’s for the long-time’ers too, who might be having a day where another team member is really gratin’ on their nerves, and you might just want to curl up in our “beanbag of despair” [a story for another day. Or … another blog post, ha!] and re-read this book so that you can be reminded that perhaps you’re just not providing xyz team member with feedback the way in which they like to receive it.
It’s a combination of seriously simple, seemingly small [but bigger … in the whole scheme of things] that contributes to our team members feeling like they can really bring their whole selves to our workplace.
Be a brand with a voice. Stand for something.
Every marketer will tell you that if you want to create a memorable brand that has social media followers flocking to that brand online, you should be a brand that doesn’t just … duplicate the same-same online that everyone else in their industry is doing.
Think of Ben & Jerry’s as an example, I back their Triple Caramel Chunk not just because of those mushy little pieces of chocolate with gooey caramel inside … and smooshed into the best ice cream. But because I’m a millennial, and we are so values-led / feel the need to align ourselves with brands whose values make us feel like they deserve our dollars.
The thing is, your workplace shouldn’t be a lot different, tbh.
Instead of attracting customers to want to spend their money with you, you’re in the business of attracting employees who want to dedicate their careers [or part of their careers] to your organisation, and if you thought millennials were values-led? … you should see the generations of human beings coming after them.
Ours is a business so indescribably values-led, that some of our employees blink away happy tears during WIP meetings where we announce things like;
Opening up our empty offices during COVID to a younger person experiencing homelessness.
And then being in a position to be able to donate 10k to an Indigenous organisation we support with pro bono work, Djirra.
Build a workplace that celebrates “human” [in all of its forms], and you’ll do no wrong.
When the flood of leadership-related compliments land in our social media inboxes, I impostor a little [a lot], because the reality is … I attribute our AFR nominated “best workplace” to this. Solely this, tbh. Because literally just creating something that celebrates humans > for the human beings that they are > and the human being that the bring to your workplace? … is the easiest thing to do.
Actually, creating a workplace environment where people didn’t feel celebrated for their humanity, and individuality, and unique, and quirk, and diversity … would feel really difficult. On a daily basis. And I genuinely feel like creating [and living by] the former is a much simpler thing to do.
We have diversity. We have disability. We have invisible disability. We have neurodiversity. We have [very] open discussions around mental health. And the way we’re striving to build a [considerably more] diverse workplace is something you’ll just need to sit back and watch, because we have some big changes to make in this space: more BIPOC representation. Job opportunities created for more disabled people. Ideas we’ve had to mentor refugees to be able to explore career pathways [with us] in digital marketing. LGBTI representation.
There’s just so much to do, and we genuinely want to lead the way here.
Celebrate your [glorious] human[s], and recognise that when you do something as simple as allowing them to be their authentic selves at work? … you free them up to be able to do the incredible work that they’re then able to do for TDP [on the daily].
It’s as simple, and literal, and literally simple … as that.
Never [ever] allow “shame” to creep into a workplace [it’ll be the beginning of the deterioration of your workplace].
I don’t do shame, ever.
It’s not in my genetic make up. Nor my learning style. Nor my DISC profile. When you explore my leadership style officially? … I’m 1,000% geared towards “humanistic-encouraging”, and when I read that about myself I just sat back > smiled, and whispered, “well, of course”.
If you struggle to lean towards humanistic-encouraging, I’d implore you to learn how to be … because I worry that the opposite of that might look like the potential for a workplace that has shame creeping into it, and as much as we don’t want shame creeping into childhood > adolescence > school systems etc? Well, we also do not want that within a workplace.
An example of how I squash shame head on is within this here post;
Sense of humour.
And then finally? … have a sense of humour.
You’re allowed, y’know? Just because we’re all “grown up” and working in grown up workplaces, doesn’t mean we can’t have a larf, yea?
My background is Irish. A good larf to us, is probably as important as a good roast potato, yea? From childhood, I’ve needed humour. Craved humour. And ended up being “the funny kid” at school [almost always]. Mostly because my Dad was in the air force, and we ended up being posted every 6’ish months [which meant starting at new schools to that regularity, too]. As a result, I learnt that I wasn’t going to make it if I didn’t build a really good sense of humour.
And that’s carried really well into adulthood, and now? … my workplace.
We prank each other [and never take it too far]. My teammates nickname me “rogue Clonan” because I’m ya resident entrepreneurial type who leans towards [considered] risk-taking and “leaping”, and probably giving our beloved MD [and CFO] some nauseating moments along the way [ha!]. We larf until we cry at the offices, as much as weekly. We write humorous captions online. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and for me especially? … I’m relaxed enough to lean into self-deprecating humour on the reg. that never makes me feel bad about myself, but always gives me a good larf.
A workplace without humour? … not a workplace I’d want to be in, tbh and not one I’d class as “best Australian workplace to work in 2020” #nope
Am I honoured to have been acknowledged by the Australian Financial Review for being one of Australia’s “best Australian workplace to work in 2020”? … yes.
Did I impostor a little at first? … also yes.
But then I quickly arrived at the realisation that – actually – we really are one of the really good places to work, and the [good] stuff we do is just so-bluddy-simple, and I wish a lot of [bigger] companies realised it’s so much easier than you think.
If you’re craving a little less “polish”, and some proper behind-the-scenes? … I’d recommend following us on Instagram here instead.