4 Ways to Refine Your Culture in 2018

January 5, 2018

Your New Year’s diet is set. You’re primed and ready to finally get something out of that money-sucking gym membership. And, on the business side, you’ve prepared your firm to go above and beyond those 2018 goals.

But what about goals for the other side of the agency coin — the side that could make or break every business objective you’ve set?

I’m talking about workplace culture, the aspect of agency life we all know and love, but sometimes move aside when it comes to goal setting. Sure, workplace culture may not lead directly to sales. And yes, some outings or gatherings may actually take employees away from work.

But, at the end of the day, happy, fulfilled employees make for successful PR agencies, which is why you should add workplace culture to your list of 2018 business objectives. Here are four places to start:

1. Focus on what matters most to your employees.

When it comes to work environments, every agency’s different. Some like happy hours and parties, while others like team-building outings and adventure activities. The first step in setting goals for your own agency is determining exactly what type of workplace your employees want to have.

Conduct a quick employee survey asking these questions: What agency events do you enjoy? What do you wish the agency did more of? What do you wish the agency did less of? What’s your favorite thing about the agency’s culture? How would you change the culture if you could?

The results will help you decide where to focus your culture efforts in 2018. (Of course, this is all within reason — if your employees ask for a culture shift of “no-work Mondays,” then you may have to void some data.)

2. Start a culture committee.

Now that you have this incredible employee data, it’s time to get moving. But here’s the thing that most agency owners realize when it comes to trying to improve culture: You don’t have any extra time. Zero. Zilch. And that’s just fine. As you teach your own account supervisors, it’s OK — and, in some cases, it’s necessary — to delegate.

Instead of putting the onus on yourself, give your employees the chance to shine through an internal “culture committee.” This employee-led committee will be in charge of setting events, preparing special celebrations and making sure the culture that employees — and you as a business leader — want is continuously reinforced. And, a bonus perk: It gives junior employees some experience with learning strategy and budgeting, two goals they likely have for themselves.

3. Plan events that your employees want.

The next step is simple: Empower your culture committee to take that survey data and run with it. Things may change over time, but there isn’t any harm in setting up a yearlong plan based on survey feedback to ensure that budgets and initiatives line up.

Equally important is not doing the things employees dislike. For example, if employees would prefer not to celebrate birthdays individually, then get creative and come up with an alternative like monthly birthday parties or a special-themed (but uninterrupted) day to celebrate each person. (If your dog-loving employee is celebrating a birthday, then perhaps it’s “bring your dog to work day” instead of a cake-and-ice cream break!)

4. Don’t overdo it.

Data gets people excited. It’s like you’ve finally been granted the power of mind reading, but it also makes planners go overboard. You have so many tips and ideas — you have to do it all, right? Well, no. First off, agencies rarely have culture budgets that support dozens upon dozens of parties and outings. And, even if you did have a large budget, your employees wouldn’t get any work done and may undergo “culture” burnout in the process. Instead, focus on quality over quantity, and plan against the themes that you saw from your survey results instead of executing each individual idea.

Workplace culture is absolutely integral to achieving agency goals, but it’s a delicate dance between giving employees what they want and going “workplace culture overboard.” If you can reach the happy medium where employees are happy, fulfilled and inspired to work for the good of the agency, then you’ll be well on your way to a successful 2018.

Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a content marketer and journalist in the New York City area. She’s the founder of Stephanie Vermillion Studio, and you can follow her work at @StephanieVermillionStudio on Instagram.


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