2014: Finding the right work culture

2014: Finding the right work culture

January is often a month of mixed feelings in the workplace, with employees returning to the office refreshed and invigorated with a set of new goals – or sitting at their desks looking longingly at the summer weather outside and concocting dreams of opening a beachside caf√© in Byron Bay. 

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As part of their New Year’s resolutions, many are exercising more, eating well, and kicking bad habits – and for a lot of people, January is a time to reassess careers.

Change doesn’t need to equal a new job

Often people think change needs to equal a new job. Before trawling through online listings and recruitment websites as ‘research’, our advice is: start by thinking about the values you’re looking for in a company and whether they meet your own. Instead of salary and location, this should be the first measure of whether a job is really what you’re looking for.

Last year we created and launched the Mi9 Manifesto, a fairly clear and direct statement about our values, the culture we aspire to and what we expect from people at Mi9. It forces people to think about their personal agendas and contributions at work, and openly admits that the Mi9 way of working is not for everyone. Mi9 definitely isn’t for you if you’re not brave, smart, humble and you don’t give a shit (those are our four values) – and we’ll call you on it.

The Manifesto starts with the reason staff get out of bed in the morning and ends with a checklist of ‘9 reasons to look for a job somewhere else’, which we have found is an effective way of flipping peoples’ thinking to encourage them to assess their own contribution at work. Like any other relationship, communication and managing expectations is fundamental – and it’s a two-way street. Both employers and employees need to be upfront about the kind of work culture that allows people to be their best and thrive. This has to become more of a focus if we are to address the high employee turnover that is synonymous with the media industry.

What do you want from your workplace?

It’s no secret the media industry can be tough, but it’s also an industry filled with professionals who truly give a shit about their clients, results and content creation. With 75% job satisfaction, according to Roy Morgan’s most recent stats, Australian professionals are carefully selecting roles based on what they want from a job and the values and opportunities their employer provides.

At Mi9 for example, we recognise that a number of our people work on side projects or have aspirations to launch digital start-ups. We’ve set up an entrepreneur program to allow team members to not only develop these projects in flexible working hours, but also to receive backing from us in the form of business advisory and ad promotion on our network to build audience and test new business ventures.

Not only has this program been vital to retaining and attracting some of our best talent, it’s produced really exciting projects that are pushing boundaries in the market – and all of this is aligned to our company purpose ‘to create the future of media’.

One example is Share Wars, created by Ninemsn editor in chief Hal Crawford. This site identifies key elements of the most shared online news stories around the world, to determine trends and shape the way we understand news.  Another is Viibe, an online video channel that finds content from video sites recommends videos that match your mood. We’ve also got a group of Mi9ers working on a start-up that will become a sustainable social enterprise for our charity partner KidsXpress and this team has been mentored by venture capitalists and is based off-site at a digital start-up incubator, to develop their business concept further.

What’s in it for the business?

Simply put, when people are doing stuff they believe in – they just do better work. Whether our entrepreneur program or our charity partnerships are a factor in the war for talent or having a direct impact on staff retention at Mi9, remains to be seen. That’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely in 2014, but what we can say for sure is that a public declaration of values unites employees, sets the standards for strong leadership and can also become a powerful marketing tool and major drawcard for talented people in the industry.

Netflix became legendary in the world of HR when HR director Patty McCord detailed the company’s corporate culture in a ‘culture doc’, a presentation lauded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as possibly the “most important document to ever come out of the valley”. Its key points included hiring only committed and intelligent people to reduce frustration in team situations and relying on common sense rather than developing formal HR policies.

Much more than just a recruitment tool, culture documents are an exercise in company branding that leave employees and recruits with a clear view of what their employer really stands for and values in its teams.

One resolution you should keep

Both you and your employer stand to benefit equally from a relationship built on common values and goals. You want to look back on what you’re working on today and be proud to say “I was part of that”. 

Take some time to assess your own ‘reasons to stay’ and ‘reasons to find a job somewhere else’ checklists. As the year gets into full swing and other resolutions may fall by the wayside (despite a well-meaning gym membership), don’t let finding and creating the right job culture be the resolution you don’t keep.

Raechel Gavin is people and culture director at Mi9.