How to create a work culture that your people thrive in – and stick around for

Conor Munday is an Employee Experience lead for Goodlord, an award winning lettings platform (and certified Great Place to Work™) that manages the entire tenancy process from start to finish. We caught up with him to discuss what a thriving work culture looks like in 2021 and beyond, if we want the same things from work as we did 50 years ago and if office culture can truly exist, without an office? 

Less than five minutes into chatting with Conor, it’s immediately apparent how much both he, and the start-up he works for genuinely care about the people working for them. He says “there’s nothing more important than the people … they are the heartbeat of any company”, and this sentiment is something echoed throughout every decision the business makes. So why is creating a good culture so important? For Goodlord at least, while the job often gets employees to walk through the door, it’s the culture that gets them to stay. 

Culture is everyone’s business

Conor and the whole people team appreciates culture is not something business leads can just click their fingers and expect to happen – this is something that must be cultivated, prioritised, worked on. At Goodlord, this often takes the form of different “club” offerings – diversity club, wellbeing club, party club and book club. Employees are responsible for chairing the different societies, but the business takes an active role in driving them forward. Whether it’s International Women’s Day, Pride or Black History Month, every important calendar moment is marked and celebrated. 

Bringing your whole self to work

It’s not just the culture clubs that make Goodlord a fulfilling place to work. Conor says that the work environment is a key contributing factor too. One of the company’s core values is “to bring your whole self to work.” So what does that actually mean in practice? It means feeling comfortable to be your authentic self and bringing the things you care about into work. At Goodlord, everyone is genuinely interested in each other. Celebrating each other’s differences ultimately makes the office a fun place to be and a fun place to work. “Fewer and fewer people want to compartmentalise themselves anymore, especially when so much of your life is spent at work.”

“Whole person” benefits

Goodlord don’t mess around when it comes to benefits, either. They recognise that thriving cultures require thriving people. Their package offers financial, physical and emotional support, whether it’s through unlimited holiday days, Sanctus mental health coaching or Octopus Money for financial guidance. Times are changing now more than ever though, and so called “traditional benefits” alone aren’t enough.  There’s so much more that goes into happy and healthy work life. People are moving away from the corporate structure and no longer want to sit in a tiny cubicle with their heads down until lunch. Today, employees expect to work with people they genuinely like and want to spend time with and grab a beer from the kitchen fridge on a Friday afternoon. “There’s almost a housemate vibe here – a rare combination of extremely disciplined but also so supportive.”

Culture after Covid

So how do you keep such a strong work culture alive when a global pandemic hits? Like most companies, the pandemic was an initial struggle for Goodlord, whose culture was previously so connected to the office. It’s been a busy year for the start-up, with their workforce almost doubling in size whilst everyone was working from home. 

Although initially challenging, the company managed to provide their unique culture in different ways – virtual coffee meetings, digital onboarding weeks and personalised Slack channels for every new joinee. Now, all meetings are “remote first” – so unless everyone present is in the office, the meeting is facilitated via Google Hangouts. This ensures that people who aren’t travelling in feel fully included in the team and culture.

With so much of the future of working life still up in the air, it’s clear from talking with Goodlord that one thing will never change in the pursuit of running a successful business. Taking care of your employees and investing to ensure they’re thriving individually and as well as collectively, is the foundation for any brilliant culture. 

Goodlord has partnered with Octopus Money to offer financial coaching to every one of its employees since 2020. 

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