Our Digital Marketing Apprentice Emily shares with us her thoughts on what it’s like to work somewhere with a great company culture, and reveals her top 3 takeaways she feels all organisations should put into practice to build an exceptional workplace for their people.

What can I say! It’s been a fantastic 8 months so far at H&H. I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute of my apprenticeship here, and I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds for myself and the agency.

Looking back 8 months ago to December 2018, I remember strolling up to H&H Towers, trembling like a leaf, not knowing what to expect.

I had an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t understand what’s asked of me?

Of course, these negative thoughts were totally unnecessary.

As I stepped through the doors to H&H Towers, I was immediately greeted by my lovely buddy Catherine, who soon introduced me to the rest of the team.

Who all made me feel extremely welcome, and instantly at ease.

All my pessimistic feelings soon fizzled out.

Little did I know that H&H was in fact completely different to any other organisation I’d previously worked for.

It’s exceeded my expectations. And that’s because H&H’s culture is at the heart of everything we do.

It defines who we are, and who we aspire to be.

 It demonstrates the power of building a unique, connected culture that everyone can get behind.

A great culture is the heartbeat of every company.

I’m proud to work for an agency that really treasures their culture and celebrates everyone’s individual talents and achievements on a daily basis.

It’s the enjoyment of coming to work every day and loving what you do for a living that makes the employee experience.

A strong company culture creates that critical sense of belonging, that forms trusting and genuine relationships between teams.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to land a role at a company that really genuinely cares about building a culture they love.

But it’s sad that less than one third of employees believe their organisation has a strong company culture.

Does this perhaps ring true for you?

If culture doesn’t take the spotlight in your own organisation, there are things you can start doing right away that will help to create a bright future for everyone in the business.

Here are three key takeaways I’ve picked up whilst working for a company with an exceptional culture.

So, without further ado – let’s dive right in!

The top 3 things I’ve learnt working for a company with a great culture…

  1. The power of bringing your whole self to work

Have you ever wanted to share something personal to you, but decided against it thanks in the niggling doubt that your colleagues might judge you?

Or found yourself struggling with a particularly challenging task that you’ve been too afraid to ask for help with?

This is something I experienced a lot in my previous role.

Too afraid to speak up. Too nervous to let my real personality off the leash, due to the fear of being judged. Which led to a significant drop in my enthusiasm and productivity.

In simple terms, I couldn’t just be me.

I soon came to terms with the fact that this wasn’t a healthy state to be in.

I needed to put my wellbeing front and centre.

And I started to wonder – are all workplaces like this? Is there such a thing as an authentic organisation, where there’s no quota on being yourself?

And the answer is a relieved (and thankful!), yes there is!

I found it at H&H.

Being able to bring my whole self to work is extremely important to me.

It’s all about having the confidence to celebrate what makes you unique.

And your leaders and colleagues accepting you for who you really are.

Who wouldn’t want to be part of a team that makes you feel welcome and at home in your workplace?

I love the fact that at H&H, everyone’s empowered to feel comfortable in their own skin, from the way they dress to what they say. With the courage and confidence to speak up and ask for help when they need it.

This is encapsulated in one of our core values:

We’re refreshingly feisty: courageous and gutsy, we speak our minds and do so with conviction.

It’s not healthy to consistently hide behind a mask or persona at work.

Especially since it’d be super difficult to keep this act up in the long run!

If you’ve ever felt like you haven’t been able to express your real self in your organisation, have you noticed your engagement, productivity and wellbeing declining as a result?

I’ll wager your answer is probably a reluctant yes.

When we can’t  bring our authentic self to work, it distracts us from reaching our full potential. Which can have a devastating impact on the organisation as a whole.

But, when you have leaders, managers, and colleagues who support and empower you to express your authenticity and humanity, it creates a welcoming environment for everyone.

As Oscar Wilde said: “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

2. The need for a holistic approach to wellbeing

I think we can all agree that employee wellbeing should be at the forefront of any organisation.

And with mental health awareness on the rise, there is no time like the present to really drill down and promote employee wellbeing as a critical part of company culture.

Employee wellbeing is all about how people feel both mentally and physically at work.

And just like employee engagement, getting it right can create huge benefits all round.

Benefits like:

  • A better working experience for employees
  • Increased productivity and motivation
  • Reduced stress and in turn reduced absences
  • Improved engagement and morale

Here at H&H we’ve put our physical and mental wellbeing squarely at the forefront of our culture this year.

We’ve taken part in numerous activities and events over the last few months designed to help us all be the healthiest and happiest we can be.

And had quality time to focus on our mental and physical wellbeing.

Here are a few of my favourite examples of how we’ve doubled down on our wellbeing in 2019…

Perhaps the most effective wellbeing initiative we can all take advantage of is the option to tailor how we work around ourselves – empowering us all to take responsibility for our own work-life balance.

When we’re in control of our working lives, we feel better about giving them our all.

One particular benefit flexible working brings to the table is that it significantly reduces stress. It allows employees to better balance work and personal demands, which will increase commitment and therefore engagement.  

It also means people can adjust their working habits to suit their own rhythm.

Here at H&H we have a couple of early birds who experience their peak  in the morning, and so their workday is structured to accommodate this.

But the perks don’t just stop at flexible working. We also have the option to participate in a Pilates class every Wednesday evening, providing some time for reflection and rejuvenation after a hard day’s firefighting.

Or if Pilates isn’t your cup of tea, there’s always the option to let off some steam in our onsite gym.

But one thing I will definitely remember about my time here at H&H is our wellbeing retreat back in May.

In the spirit of rejuvenation and relaxation, we all headed off to the North Yorkshire Moors to enjoy a two-day getaway to recharge our collective batteries.

There was an endless array of activities to get involved in, from yoga and massages to a blissful gong bath (Google it). Punctuated by a series of refreshing team walks to explore the surrounding countryside. (We even came into contact with some historic 18th Century iron kilns).

But the best thing about it was the chance to spend some quality time together as a team, away from the hubbub of day-to-day activities.

It was something I’ve never experienced before, or even heard of any other organisation getting involved in.  And I have to say it was the most fulfilling work trip I’ve experienced to date.

Why not try out a similar activity in your own organisation?

3. The benefits of continuous on-the-job learning

Being an apprentice means I’m continuously learning as I go.

I’m constantly changing and evolving as the months go on.

It gives me a sense of belonging and achievement when I’m working and expanding my knowledge by always learning something new.

Continuous on-the-job learning is an important part of any company culture.

It comes with many benefits for both the employees and the organisation.

Clearly, you’ll know that the more knowledge someone has, the more skills and understanding they can apply to their role.

But the biggest benefit in my eyes is that it shows employees that they’re valued. It demonstrates to them that they’re respected as a key player in the organisation, and that the leadership cares about helping them to grow and flourish.

It’s an additional perk that many employees will be very grateful for – increasing their motivation to be the best they can be.

Here at H&H we’re big advocates of always learning on the job.

So much so that we’ve got several personal development initiatives going on at once!

We’ve supported people through Masters degrees, MBAs, and professional Diplomas.

We offer regular coaching and NLP courses to enrich our team’s understanding of communication principles (so we’re all IC experts!).

And each H&H has access to regular ‘MoFlow’ activities designed to find the optimum fit between their capabilities and their role.

It’s all about developing the best IC agency, by developing the best in ourselves.

By continuously learning, inspiring, and growing together.

So that’s it, a snapshot of what I’ve learned about how company culture should be by working in a place where it’s never taken for granted.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have found myself a rewarding place in such a brilliant agency, and to be able to get out of bed every morning and look forward to what the day will bring.

And hopefully you’ve taken away some inspirational tips and tricks to enhance your culture too – so we can get one step closer to a world where everyone feels happy, healthy, and fulfilled at work!

To learn more about what makes us, us, check out our Culture Code animation here. Who knows – by the end of it, you might feel as if we’re on first-name terms!

Meet the author

Emily Wilkinson

I’m H&H’s resident Digital Marketing Apprentice. I came to H&H fresh out of a photography degree, looking for fresh opportunities to put my creativity into practice and pick up new skills – and it’s safe to say I picked the right place to achieve both. Outside the workplace I enjoy socialising with my friends at our local pub ‘The Star’ (which certainly to me lives up to its name), and hijacking other people’s tastes in music to broaden my own playlist.