Let’s talk about company culture. Is it time yours had a makeover?

March 15, 2022

What is good company culture? If you’re anything like us at Humi, the pandemic has been challenging, but in the same vein it’s also been incredibly eye-opening. It’s allowed us to take a better look at our people and what keeps them happy and engaged at work. 

Humi has more than doubled over the pandemic, and with each ‘doubling’, we are evaluating our culture, our communications, and what makes a Humigo, a Humigo.

What have we learned about shifting to a remote-first environment?

We’ve learned a lot, and without writing a novel, these are some of the key takeaways that we have learned about our shift, throughout the pandemic:

  1. Remote-first isn’t for everyone – some folks have learned the hard way that they miss in-person human interaction 
  2. Flexibility is now expected – it’s no longer the exception 
  3. We need to be more proactive about creating connections, so we aren’t missing out on how we’re learning from each other 
  4. Onboarding continues to be a major factor in communicating our Humi culture 
  5. Learning and development – an LMS is not going to be our only solution
  6. Creating trust in a remote world isn’t divorced from creating accountability; but you can’t create a culture of accountability without trust
  7. Scaling by double, in a remote-first world… is hard! 

While we love being remote-first, it’s come with its own set of new challenges. As we’ve grown, we’ve learned that our people feel less in-tune with each other both professionally and socially, because of remote work and department growing pains. 

We know this can impact our culture, so our People team set out to learn what we need to do in order to maintain the elements of our culture that we love, and improve elements of our culture that aren’t working. 

What did we do? 

We implemented weekly check-ins via surveys to get a sense of what our Humigos love and don’t love about working at Humi. Weekly may sound like a lot to you, but we found it important to learn what keeps our people up at night, what they love, how they perceive our leadership, and how they feel about our values on a frequent basis, while we navigate the change in remote-first work. This is especially important to us, because over 50% of our company has never met a member of our leadership team – woah! Broadly speaking, the questions cover:

  • Engagement
  • Health & Well-being
  • Humi values
  • COVID-19 and health & safety 
  • Humi-specific programs

What is our most consistent top-score? 

Our culture. Each question is connected to a driver which measures how happy our people are with the culture, leadership, and responsibilities that make up their experience at Humi.

What are we trying to learn? 

We want to know what makes Humi’s culture so exceptional, and how we can nurture and maintain the pieces that make it a special place to work, as we grow. 

Something else I’ve learned? We are lucky to have an incredibly engaged group of Senior Leaders at Humi. While our People team is investigating the ‘what’, we know that we are not the ‘who’ that carries out and embodies Humi’s culture. At least, we are not the only ‘who’... as the author Simon Sinek writes about, the tone of the company culture starts at the top, and how managers treat their people can completely influence the culture. We are fortunate that our entire Leadership team has our culture and people’s happiness at the top of their minds, every day. If you’re struggling with leadership engagement at your company, I suggest finding at least one champion, and building from there.

What are we working on?

Despite the recent changes we’ve had to make to match the world and our growth, our culture is special, and it’s felt whenever you interact with any Humigo. But like I said at the beginning of this issue, a great workplace culture takes work, and it’s necessary for us to continue reevaluating and adjusting as we evolve. Here’s what we’re working on: 

Defining our culture with clear behaviours. 

Most companies let their workplace culture form naturally without clearly defining what they want it to look like, and that’s a mistake. 

What exactly impacts culture in the workplace? The short answer is: everything. At Humi, we are currently exploring a deeper definition of our values and one that continues to resonate with what makes Humi special, is respecting people’s individuality. Our Manager of Experience and Culture, Sneha Deokie, just internally shared our EDI strategy, which places strong emphasis on this value (more info on this to be shared soon). Another driving force is what we are doing to develop future leaders.

To do this, we have initiated a deep-dive insight session (facilitated by Sneha) in order to assess our values, leadership principles, and behaviours that impact our culture. This includes both what we do and do not encourage as influences to our behaviours. 

Tip: knowing what you don’t want is just as important as learning what you do want, when it comes to driving alignment around what your culture is.

Building out our Development program 

Employee development is the foundation of any great workplace, and as we reach a point where Newmigos don’t have the chance to interact with every person on the team, it’s time for us to understand how we are learning, retaining, and building our professional selves, to make sure that Humigos feel great about their personal growth in the work they’re doing, and that they’re recognized for it. 

While we work out the specs, it’s certain that this will involve plenty of communication between managers and the people, what it means to be a people manager at Humi, and will put a huge emphasis on real-time feedback. I mentioned this in the last issue, but if you’re curious to dig into the importance of ongoing feedback and how to implement it into your own workplace, check out our ebook, 10X your team’s performance with real-time feedback.

Another thing that I have learned as I build out our internal development, goes with the old saying: don’t fix what isn’t broken. We have some departments that are further along in the professional development journey. Building on what is working and enhancing existing programs, is not only a faster way to build programming, but it also decreases the resistance that the People Ops team will experience when launching something new.

Identifying the elements that are deal-breakers to our leadership

The people you hire – their beliefs, values, diverse experiences – are your culture, and for us at Humi, it’s important that our team reflects what we believe in. 

It’s written in our values. We build systems that support people, so it’s important to us that every Humigo cares about having a positive impact on peoples’ lives. It’s also pivotal for us to communicate with each other openly and honestly, because trust is the foundation of our business. 

Remember: Great culture doesn’t happen accidentally

And it sure doesn’t happen overnight either. Listen to your people and understand what they need to do great work. If you don’t, you’re not only endangering the well-being and engagement of your workforce, you’re risking the success of your business.

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