Great ideas can come from anywhere, at any time. This is something I learnt during the initial phase of my career while working in Trilogy (an Austin-based tech company). Some of the biggest project breakthroughs happened at informal brainstorming sessions over tea or beer. It came by welcoming change, happiness, and encouraging ideas from everyone in the team, including interns.
I have this habit of jotting down ideas, big and small, that could potentially make life better for those around me. As an employee, I thought about the things that could make work more enjoyable for my team. Talking to my peers, I realized that flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere had the biggest impact on workplace happiness and productivity. It was also simple things like easy access to catered food, nice freebies, and fun activities that made work more comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.
Ideas are valuable only when they are implemented. So years later, when I started my own company with my friends in 2010, I took the gamble and put all of our ideas to work. The results have been worth all the effort and the gamble we took at HashedIn.
We were recently recognized as one of the India-based Top 10 IT Services companies to work for in 2018 by Great Place To Work Institute. We are the only one from Bengaluru and owe our success to the teamwork, decency, fairness, and collaborative decision-making brought in by our employees (hashers) and the unique work culture we have at HashedIn. Here are the key lessons we learned while building a fun, innovative work culture at HashedIn:
Innovation needs time and freedom to develop
There is nothing linear about innovation. It can happen anytime, anywhere. It happens when people explore and experiment with new concepts in their free time.
A rigid and structured work environment creates unnecessary pressure. People end up focusing only on short-term targets of completing their defined tasks. They seldom venture out of their comfort zone.
A flexible work timing with the option to work from home gives people the time and freedom they need to learn and innovate on their own. Flexible work time is also the key to a women-friendly workplace.
Inspiration comes from active listening
To power innovation, you need to actively listen to your employees. If you focus only on ideas from the top-down, you miss out on major insights about what is really happening in the company.
From regular all-hands sessions and open-house meets to training sessions and company-wide SWOT workshops, it is important to involve everyone in our planning process.
From top to bottom, communication has to be open and strong. There should be no hierarchical walls that prevent people from sharing their views or ideas. Everyone should know what the company is doing, how much revenue is being made, and where the company is headed. Growth happens when people are not afraid of sharing ideas and asking the difficult questions.
Empower people to execute their ideas
Charles Kettering, an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents, once said, “If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.”
There is a lot of truth in this quote. Many great ideas die a slow death due to delayed approvals and cumbersome processes. Like a beat-up football in the field, it gets kicked around from one team to another, one manager to another, no one owning it up for long. Gradually everyone loses interest and people stop sharing new ideas.
To get rid of the red tape, you need to encourage employees to act as an owner. Once you have specified the problem, brainstormed, and found the right solution, trust your employees to own the project and execute it. It’s amazing what people can do when they are their own managers. Projects get executed at lightning speed. People deliver more than what is expected of them.
One brand, one love, one goal
Brands need love to survive. The best feedback and insights come from employees and customers who truly care about your brand.
Good work culture is built on a foundation of shared values and love for the brand. Success stories happen when everyone is on the same page and works together to achieve a unified goal.
Apart from hiring the right people, managers need to focus on building a transparent work environment. Go one step further and organize regular alumni meets for your ex-employees to network and share their experience.
Focus on people, not just the job
In the end, people excel in work they are really interested in, the jobs and tasks that they enjoy the most. When you provide a fun and enjoyable workplace, people naturally start performing better and loving their jobs. Never label people by their designations. Give your staff the freedom to move to other teams and try working on different projects and roles.
Good work culture is not just about work. It is about building a positive environment, where you have good conversations and fun and can thrive. Don’t keep recognition and perks as an annual formality. Make it a part of your everyday affairs.
When you take good care of your employees, they will take good care of your brand. Happy employees are the secret to the success of many tech companies in the world.
The modern work culture revolution is here to stay. Today, you need a good work culture to attract talent and succeed. The best way forward is to get everyone from the CEO to the HR involved in building a winning and unique work culture where employees are truly valued and cared for.
Himanshu Varshney is the CEO and Co-Founder of HashedIn Technologies.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)