One of the first things that new recruits to Ghyston notice is just how seriously we take our culture. It’s something that begins the moment you walk in the door; whether an employee or client we want people to feel as though they are in an environment that is friendly and supportive. Culture matters at Ghyston because we want to work in a place where everyone feels valued and people are enabled to do their very best work. Maintaining our high standards isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort because ultimately happy coders write better code, and that benefits everyone.
So, what can you do to create this sort of culture in your company? Well, that really depends on what’s right for you and your staff. For example, there are formal events like our Boost Awards, which reward not just performance but less tangible qualities like raising morale and improving the office environment. Then there are more informal social events like barbecues, cocktail parties and celebrations at the end of a project. But before making any changes you might want to consider these three key tenets:
Not so long ago, having a good time in the workplace meant a Conga around the photocopier at the Christmas party, or a David Brent like boss cracking the occasional off-colour joke at the expense of a powerless underling. We recognise that not everyone has fun in quite the same way and that it’s important to offer incentives that are appropriate to our staff. We want people to look forward to our social events and not cringe under their desks.
Central to this are our two elected morale officers. While they are in charge of organising key events like our annual parties, they aren’t a dictatorial entertainments committee. They encourage employees to organise their own social activities, which means that whether your idea of fun is craft beer tasting, strategy board games or learning to bake artisan bread, there is something to help keep you motivated.
There is little that is more demoralising than working in a company where you are constantly looking over your shoulder, where you fear making mistakes because of the consequences. At Ghyston, we believe in promoting a blame-free culture. This doesn’t mean encouraging people to do badly, rather it is a pragmatic response to a simple truth about software development – things go wrong all the time. We believe that when this happens, rather than trying to cover your tracks or pass the buck it’s better to focus on solving the causes of the problem.
Making mistakes is of course the way we all learn. Every job we do is different, meaning we are learning how to do new things every day. If you are scared of being blamed, you inevitably end up playing it safe. When you are allowed to fail you are free to be more creative and that’s when the most extraordinary things can happen.
If you have a culture where people feel motivated and are working to their full capacity then it is far easier to pass that love on to your customers. If you get it right, spreading your culture beyond the office walls can be a key part of creating a successful business. If your clients feel part of the process and can see that you really care about the work you are doing for them, that breeds confidence and ultimately loyalty to your company.
Creating the right culture is more of an art than an exact science. It requires a certain amount of intuition as to what is right for your company and your people. That means it is difficult to gauge success using growth charts or Excel spreadsheets. However, there is one telltale-sign that a company is doing things right: staff retention. In an industry where it’s common for employees to move companies every 2-3 years, at Ghyston many of our employees are with us long term, commonly over five years. When people work here they generally don’t want to work anywhere else, and we believe that’s down to successfully combining the highest standards with having a genuinely positive culture.