The Perks Aren't Enough: How to Create a Culture of Respect

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Kelly Poulson
Kelly Poulson




Food? Check. Keg? Check. Parties? Check. Bring your “insert pet here” to work day? Check.

We’re agencies. We have cool environments and funky perks. That’s a given. However, if you think that alone will keep your people happy and engaged, you’re wrong.

All of the perks in the world can’t replace being surrounded by colleagues who treat you with respect and have your best interest at heart. It seems simple enough to just care about each other, yet so many of us are unable to do it well.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little tired of the stigma that agencies burn their people out, make them work day and night, and don’t care about their employees. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you sense a wave of displeasure breeding throughout the agency. 

Be Open

If a work situation sucks and you’re asked about it, it is OK to be honest. Tell people you recognize there is a problem or a challenge within the organization (or with a client) and that you (or management) are looking for solutions. If you’re not able to make the changes you’d like to in a certain situation, explain why. Don’t just say "no" and leave the team wondering. This type of open communication goes a long way in earning the trust and respect of your employees.

Earn Their Trust Every Day

If you say you’re going to do something, then do it. Follow through. Or if you truly can’t, say so. People are pretty darn understanding, but what they won’t do is continue to trust someone who never fulfills promises. Once that trust is gone, it’s much harder to earn it back. 

Focus on the Future

That doesn’t just mean the future of the agency, though that is incredibly crucial. What about the future of each and every individual? Are they being challenged? Are they being set up for success? Agencies are struggling to compete with every industry imaginable for talent, so be creative about the career paths of your people. Listen to what makes them happy, and take the time to help them experience more of it. Talk about these things regularly.

Say Thank You

We are lucky enough to work in an industry filled with brilliant, passionate, and hard-working individuals. Never take that for granted. View every day as an opportunity to recruit them (even those who have been there for the long haul). Never miss a chance to thank them in the most genuine way possible.

Be a Person

Some people like to draw pretty solid lines between work and life. I get that. However, doing so doesn’t mean you have to be an uncaring robot. Part of what attracted me to (and keeps me with) my current employer is that they not only do the above, but at the end of the day, they’re pretty cool folks whom I want to hang out with when the opportunity presents itself. And it does. Regularly. 

Let’s change the way we’re viewed. I have faith in you fellow agency professionals -- no longer will we rely on pizza and beer to save the day. A little respect goes a long way. With that being said, I now want both pizza and beer. Who’s in?


Topics: Company Culture

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