One in three American workers today are millennials. In fact, in 2015, millennials surpassed Gen Xer’s as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. What does that mean for companies? How are millennials different than previous generations in the workforce? How do you keep them happy at work and motivate them to stay driven? While “Company Culture” is quickly rising on the corporate buzzword watchlist, it’s been proven to play a key role in strengthening employee engagement, particularly for millennials.
But what exactly makes a company culture great? Maybe it’s as simple as exiting “cubicle-land” and designing more desirable workspaces. Maybe it’s installing a rock-climbing wall or having craft beer on tap. Or hey—maybe it means putting a ferris wheel in your office. But as a millennial who is personally excited to work every day, I think it comes down to much more than that.
I happen to be one of those 54 million millennials in the workforce today, working for a UX Design Consultancy. It doesn’t surprise me to learn that statistically, most of my generation is not motivated by money—but rather by a desire to use our skills for good.
Many companies try to distinguish themselves with company culture, and while there may not be a right or wrong way, there are a few key elements that have proven to create a positive, dedicated, and highly-motivated group of people at Visual Logic.
At Visual Logic, we never lose sight of company culture because we know that motivated individuals—people who find joy the work they’re doing—will bring the best results to clients.
There are 5 I’s in “Team”
The success of the products we create rides on our ability to put forth our best efforts. At Visual Logic, our motivation is fueled by a culture built around what we call the “Five I’s”: ideas, interaction, inquisitive, investment, and initiative.
Ideas: Be creative. There’s a reason all of our walls are whiteboards: our innovative ideas are the main reason clients hire us to solve their UX challenges. At VLG, a brilliant idea might just send you home for the day.
Interaction: Build relationships. To accomplish our best work, we rely heavily on helpful and honest interactions with each other and our clients—and we always strive to do so with a gracious, humble, and empathetic attitude.
Inquisitive: Ask questions. In an ever-changing industry, we must be aware of UX trends, theories, and best practices—as well as exhibit the same curiosity for the industries of our clients. We ask questions (sometimes naive ones) and listen carefully before we can begin to solve complex problems.
Investment: Strive to do meaningful work. We place high importance on learning about each member of our team and invest in each other emotionally. In turn, our goal is that each person invests fully back into VLG by making their work a high priority and contributes to the success of the overall team.
Initiative: Be proactive. We’re a group of go-getters eager to tackle any problem thrown our way. This can be as simple as recognizing a small task that needs to be done and doing it yourself, or as meaningful as always striving to take your work efforts to further solutions.
A great company culture drives employees to put forth their best work. We don’t put our values on a shelf to look at every now and then; we carry them out every day, and it will show through in our work.
In the spirit of Halloween—meet the “5-I’d-Monster.”
Happiness is a Priority
As a matter of fact, it’s darn-near mandatory. VLG’s “Director of Happiness” is dedicated to planning and scheduling regular team outings (as well as keeping the snack bar fully stocked). Bonding as a group outside the context of work gives us a stronger connection and desire to motivate each other both personally and professionally. It creates a sense of family.
However, when we say “happiness is a priority”, we’re not just talking about our own. Beyond the games and snacks, we place high value on volunteering together and giving back to our community. Around here, it’s encouraged to take a break from your work day to clean apartments at a women’s shelter, buy Christmas presents for children, or help build a home for someone who doesn’t have one. It’s important to use your skills for good at the office—but it’s just as important to do so outside the office as well.
The VLG team volunteering at the Waterloo House of Hope (left) and Habitat for Humanity (right).
An Office that Inspires
Our office was designed with intention. Collaboration is encouraged with wide-open workspaces and surrounding whiteboards, making it easy to strike up a conversation with anyone and bounce ideas around. Productivity happens naturally because our designers are strategically paired to increase quality of work. Getting to simple is hard, and the brain requires a significant amount of downtime in order to do the most innovative thinking. Getting “un-stuck” is a little bit easier when you’re encouraged to take a step back and clear your mind. We spend our days making sure others have great experiences—so it only makes sense that our office is our own great user experience.
“We’ve created a place where we want to work. It’s a fun atmosphere, there are intentional distractions — ping pong, foosball, scooters — that are there to help us step away from the tough problems we’re trying to solve. We’ve found that’s usually when the ‘a-ha moments’ would happen.”
Living our Values
If you’re searching for a user experience partner, you might stumble across similarities within the industry. This is often because the UX profession attracts a certain type of person—one who is driven and passionate about improving people’s lives.
On the surface level, you might look at Visual Logic and see a modern office with fun toys and a bunch of creative yahoos. What’s under the surface is an effective team dedicated to building relationships, spreading happiness, never-giving-up, and ultimately providing great experiences for others. We work with people who share our values, we volunteer together to help others in our community, and we welcome ideas from one another that enrich our culture and propose better ways of doing business.
We are not a team because we work together; we are a team because we respect, value, and care for each other. Because of that, we work well together.