Is your company’s culture holding you back?

It's not a good sign when people aren’t learning or growing in their roles. Finding a healthy culture has been vital for my career and my health.
Three metal entrances each labeled with a do not enter sign

Introduction

I started working with Pixo about two months ago, and since I started, I’ve found myself looking around like a kid in a candy shop: wide-eyed and excited about all the sweet opportunities in front of me. Never have I ever worked with a company with a true people-first culture. 

To give you an idea of my background, I worked in corporate settings for 11 years before I started freelancing seven years ago. I actually started freelancing because I’m one of those weirdos who wanted to do more, learn more, and work on projects with people who excited me. While I was freelancing I was mostly working remotely but had a few hybrid gigs. So I’ve had the opportunity to peek behind the curtain at a lot of different organizations, and when it comes to the culture, it’s not always pretty. 😱

I’ve experienced environments where employees only communicate via Slack, team meetings are rare, information is withheld, upper management makes empty promises, and there is no real collaboration or genuine engagement encouraged. The only initiative is results. During the pandemic a lot of companies moved to working remotely, and although it may have helped relieve some office anxiety from the equation, the reality is, people are still experiencing burnout. So what’s the common denominator in these cases?

A bad company culture

Working in a company with a bad or toxic culture can be depressing to its employees, leaving them feeling unmotivated, hopeless, and stuck. Once this feeling sets in, people usually find their comfort zone and stick to it. That means people aren’t learning or growing in their roles. This is one of those issues that comes back to bite you later down the road. When you’re trying to “teach an old dog new tricks,” don’t forget — bad employees are a product of their environment. But good ones are too.

The pivot

Comic strip called "How psychological safety relates to performance standards" by Amy Edmondson
Source: www.amycedmonson.com

If you’re reading this and realizing, “Omg, my company culture is toxic. Send help!” I got you. Pixo has a great culture, but it’s not the only company that can provide a healthy company environment. There are lots of steps you can start taking today to improve your company culture. Some things will be easier to implement than others, but in the end the discomfort will be worth it.

Inclusive employee engagement

This is possible, even if your team is remote. I was impressed with how Pixo created themed Slack channels to encourage employees to engage in genuine ways. The first two I would recommend adding for your organization is a parents channel and a pets channel, because parents love to talk about their babies, whether biological or furbaby. There are lots of other channels that can help you get to know the people you work with in authentic ways — Pixo has #movies, #recipes, #pixo-women, to name a few.


Psychological safety

Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes. This is a concept that I only recently learned about at Pixo, and now it’s all I can talk about because it’s something that’s been lacking in my career up till now. If you have any highly motivated employees, providing a psychologically safe environment for them will allow them to soar; just step back and watch them solve all your problems. Pixo has a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee that researched the concept and introduced it to the rest of the company, and we recently found a great resource that offers psychological safety training to your employees and staff. Check them out: All One Health


Professional development

Pixo has figured out that investing in your employees makes the team stronger and creates space for innovation. I have coworkers who spoke at the University of Illinois Web Conference just last week, and members of our staff also offer monthly webinars to the public on topics in content strategy, design, and engineering. Pixo constantly encourages staff to branch out — not just sit at a keyboard doing repetitive tasks to get something done. Since we’re always learning, we’re able to offer our clients the best solutions for their needs. We don’t just use “expert” as a marketing keyword; we embody it.

Nurturing people helps them bloom

Since starting at Pixo, there’s been a total change in what I believe is possible for me. It feels like I’m off the leash and I’m enjoying my work again. I’m learning, blogging, and networking. Not only is it making me a stronger expert, but a stronger contributor for my team. 

Even my mental and physical health have improved since finding a healthy company culture. I’m starting to notice that I’m unclenching my jaw and dropping my shoulders a lot more. My overall mood is better and my work/life balance is the best it’s ever been. The benefits of working in  a healthy company culture are far reaching, from managers to employees and customers.

Our jobs are a big part of our daily lives. We deserve to feel safe while we provide for our families. Don’t underestimate the power you have as a manager or business owner to improve people’s daily lives. If you’re an employee who is in the market for a new job, I recommend prioritizing company culture. It could lead you to the boost in your career that you’ve been looking for.