“Culture”. It’s a word often bandied around in team environments – from sporting organisations to social clubs, local communities to international corporations – as if we all have a universal understanding of what it means, and how it should feel. It seems that “good workplace culture” is an organisational goal that is so often-cited that simply by saying it, makes it so. In actual fact, like anything good worth having, you have to work for it. To not only work for it, but to invest in it.
From our inception, RBK has prioritised the establishment and development of culture that is not simply good, but enviable. To us, it’s quite simple. We want to enjoy our work – to foster a strong, supportive, collaborative and happy workplace that empowers us as individuals, and increases our output as a collective.
It’s a nice thought, right? So how do we make it a tangible reality?
It starts with recruitment. We’re thankful to have experienced rapid expansion in our first couple of years, and each time we’ve looked to grow our team, we have made sure to identify people that best exemplify our cultural values. Often favouring attitude over experience or technical skill.
Once we have the talent for cultural success, we invest in its development.
We’ve mentioned our expansion, and currently our team is made up of over twenty team members dispersed across five different locations with various degrees of telecommuting.
Once a quarter, we get the band back together. We identified the geographical disconnect between our team to be a potential barrier to creating the utopian culture we so desired. So once a quarter, during work hours, the entire team comes together for a Culture Day. Typically, the day features some RBK planning in the morning before we move on to a team-chosen activity, that is then followed by lunch and a few drinks. The days establish excellent rapport between our team members, and we can even incorporate some team building exercises throughout. Ultimately, we’re just facilitating a relaxed atmosphere where team can interact with each other outside of the dynamic of the office environment. We’re all about vibe creation!
This is what we mean by investment. What our Culture Days may cost us in billable hours for twenty team members, it returns countless times over in team moral, job satisfaction, and output.
So that’s what we do on a quarterly basis, but how do we keep culture front-of-mind week-in-week-out?
We wish the Tuesday Huddle was our idea, but alas, it was not. We saw Tanya Titman from Consolid8 present at the CPA conference last year, and this was by far our favourite take-away. It’s the best meeting of our week.
We’ve made a few changes in adopting the practice, but essentially it goes like this…
Each team member is asked the following questions”:
- On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling personally, and why?
- On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling business-wise, and why?
- Is there an issue or opportunity for RBK that you’ve come across?
- What made you smile during the week?
The openness that this practice has fostered has truly proven to unite our team. Learning from each other, investing in each other’s welfare, and promoting ownership of their role in our business.
This discussion is then followed up with a quick overview of a Xero add-on. One person per week delivers a 5-minute presentation on a Xero add-on that could solve a problem for our clients.
Similarly, one team member per week presents a Productivity Hack – a tip or trick that helps them hit their weekly goals – we’re in the business of productivity, but we are still accountant losers, so we’ve got to help each other wherever we can!
These two activities simply help facilitate the flow of knowledge throughout the firm! For example, one of our Directors Jason is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to add-ons. We need to get that know-how out of his brain and into the team’s collective thought, so that everyone knows the best solution to implement for our clients in any given situation. We trust that this communal knowledge-sharing will set us apart from other accounting firms, and really solidify our “Advisory” offering.
Finally, we have recently introduced something new to the Tuesday Huddle – a Guest Huddler! Each week we’ll invite a different Guest Huddler to participate in the process. Our first guest was our Social and Sustainability expert Sara Rickards, but it could be anyone – from referral partners to clients. Not only are we passionate about establishing a vibrant culture within our firm, but we are always eager to spread and share the RBK vibe throughout our broader community.
Invest in and care for your team, and your team will invest in and care for your business. It’s difficult to define healthy workplace culture more simply than that. What isn’t difficult, is seeing and feeling the overwhelmingly rewarding results.