How to Scale a Healthy Work Environment

Roisin O’Hagan, Vice President of Human Resources at Unosquare, shares her experiences.

Sustaining a Scalable Work Culture in a Dynamic Economy

After admir­ing her mother’s suc­cess­ful Human Resources career, Roisin O’Hagan decid­ed to fol­low in her foot­steps. She joined Unosquare — a soft­ware com­pa­ny that pro­vides agile soft­ware for finan­cial ser­vices, high-tech and health­care pro­fes­sion­als. She joined as an HR man­ag­er but was soon pro­mot­ed inter­nal­ly to Vice President.

Dur­ing her time there, the com­pa­ny has had remark­able growth and all amid a glob­al pan­dem­ic. Not only was Unosquare able to grow in size and prof­itabil­i­ty, but the orga­ni­za­tion was also able to scale its brag-wor­thy work culture. 

This was no acci­dent. The com­pa­ny val­ues are front and cen­ter and its open-door pol­i­cy helps make the cul­ture acces­si­ble to every­one. Orga­ni­za­tion­al trans­paren­cy is key and employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tion is sec­ond to none. Unosquare’s pos­i­tive work cul­ture can serve as an exam­ple for all types of com­pa­nies, large or small.

Growing and Scaling in a Dynamic Work Era

A dynam­ic work mod­el leans on the idea that employ­ees can work when­ev­er and wher­ev­er they want, as long as their work gets done. This mod­el emerged in the face of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic: employ­ers all over the world were sud­den­ly required to allow their team mem­bers to work remote­ly. Enter: the dynam­ic work era. 

Post-pan­dem­ic, many orga­ni­za­tions have decid­ed to stick to remote work mod­els and some have imple­ment­ed a hybrid in which employ­ees come into the office a few days a week. In the face of this, com­pa­nies have had to adjust both their expec­ta­tions as well as their work culture. 

The best have been able to grow and scale in the midst of these uncer­tain times. These com­pa­nies are liv­ing proof that work­place cul­ture can evolve if approached in the right way.

A Post-Pandemic Work Environment Brings New Challenges — and Opportunities

It’s easy to focus on the chal­lenges brought about by the pan­dem­ic and while the glob­al cri­sis did neg­a­tive­ly impact many peo­ple, it also pre­sent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth. 

One of the biggest chal­lenges this new way of liv­ing and work­ing pre­sent­ed was: how to main­tain com­pa­ny cul­ture. In-per­son meet­ings and events were off the table and orga­ni­za­tion­al cul­ture was sud­den­ly in jeop­ardy. Most inter­ac­tions were forced to move online, but the most suc­cess­ful lead­ers in man­age­ment and beyond were the ones who remained pas­sion­ate about build­ing a strong work culture. 

The abil­i­ty to adapt in the face of great change is one of the most impor­tant aspects of cre­at­ing a pos­i­tive work­place cul­ture. It also involves an open­ness to exper­i­men­ta­tion and new ideas. Unosquare exper­i­ment­ed with hold­ing remote events through Teams and Slack. They also encour­aged their team mem­bers to get out­side when they could. One of the ways they did this was by hold­ing a 1K run that the entire orga­ni­za­tion was wel­come to par­tic­i­pate in. Those who did, shared pho­tos of them­selves post-run. It was a great way to increase employ­ee engagement.

This unique way of com­ing togeth­er showed that the com­pa­ny was con­cerned with its people’s well-being. You are noth­ing with­out your peo­ple and you need to show your sup­port even dur­ing the most uncer­tain times.

People Above All Else: Keeping Employees First

When you’re able to cre­ate a peo­ple-cen­tric cor­po­rate cul­ture, every­one wins. Not only will your team mem­bers feel sup­port­ed, but you can also increase job satisfaction. 

Stud­ies show that employ­ees who work in a pos­i­tive cul­ture are more pro­duc­tive. In oth­er words, if you want the best work, and the best results from your team mem­bers, it’s essen­tial that you cre­ate a strong and sus­tain­able work cul­ture that puts your peo­ple above all else. A cul­ture that encour­ages work-life bal­ance and flex­i­bil­i­ty, and has a con­crete mis­sion and core com­pa­ny values.

The lead­er­ship team has a par­tic­u­lar role to play in terms of build­ing strat­e­gy with a focus on employ­ees. One way is to imple­ment an open-door pol­i­cy. This will let your team mem­bers know that employ­ee com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trans­paren­cy are core val­ues for the company.

The CEO of Unosquare holds an Ask Me Any­thing” ses­sion twice a year. Any­one in the com­pa­ny, no mat­ter their posi­tion or job, can ask him a ques­tion, pro­fes­sion­al or per­son­al. These types of prac­tices, along with all-hands meet­ings (vir­tu­al or in-per­son), will show your peo­ple that you’re there to listen. 

This is per­haps even more impor­tant for orga­ni­za­tions that are scat­tered across the world. When you work with peo­ple who are based in dif­fer­ent time zones and speak dif­fer­ent lan­guages, you need to ensure that the company’s cul­ture can be felt across bor­ders. Your core val­ues need to be clear, con­cise and easy to under­stand, oth­er­wise, you risk cre­at­ing a neg­a­tive work cul­ture. It goes with­out say­ing that upper man­age­ment needs to be involved and com­mit­ted to these values.

Learn, Optimize and Scale Your Company Culture

If you want to scale an orga­ni­za­tion with a com­mit­ment to long-term sta­bil­i­ty, the key is in opti­miz­ing your com­pa­ny cul­ture. This all goes back to putting your peo­ple first. Let them know that your orga­ni­za­tion is a sta­ble­work place and that you can pro­vide long-term employ­ment as well as oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth. You can do so through the open-door poli­cies out­lined above, as well as con­sis­tent­ly com­ing togeth­er as a team. 

Get rid of invis­i­ble bar­ri­ers between depart­ments and have those all-hands meet­ings. Every time you do meet, talk about your company’s core val­ues, mis­sion and goals. Extend this pol­i­cy to hir­ing too — talk about your val­ues and mis­sion with poten­tial hires so that they are famil­iar with them before they get started. 

As your orga­ni­za­tion grows and scales, review your val­ues and mis­sion to make sure that they align with the direc­tion you’re head­ed. The most suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies are those that are will­ing to adapt — both with the world at large but also with chang­ing pri­or­i­ties. That said, keep in mind that basic val­ues like open­ness, trans­paren­cy and hon­esty should be con­stant. Mak­ing sure your team mem­bers are in the loop at all times will show them just how impor­tant this prin­ci­ple is to you.

As an employ­ee, always keep in mind the impor­tance of learn­ing and becom­ing one with your company’s cul­ture. If you aren’t hap­py with some­thing, don’t be afraid to speak up and take advan­tage of an open-door pol­i­cy. HR man­agers? Remem­ber that your peo­ple will become your cul­ture. If you have a group of A play­ers, they will only be as strong as your company’s core val­ues and mis­sion, which is why it’s essen­tial to cre­ate a healthy, open and sus­tain­able envi­ron­ment. With these key points in mind, you’re bound to succeed.

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