By Nick Gianacakos –
Two large transparent doors invite you into the interior of a busy office floor. Inside, one would find many common office amenities: conference rooms, desks, computers and cubicles. What are not as common about this space are the people that happen to inhabit it. While some are busy working at their desks, and others rush off to catch their 10:30 a.m. meeting, one thing is certain: all of them will greet you with a smile.
This place is Lever Interactive: a digital marketing agency based in Lisle, Illinois that specializes in SEM, SEO, social media marketing, and other online marketing. Currently, I am the Digital Media Intern at Lever, and my experience thus far has been very rewarding and valuable. Every day, I come in to work and learn something about the field of marketing that I hadn’t known before. I interact kindly with my co-workers, and truly enjoy spending my time in this workplace environment. At Lever, everybody is treated with respect, appreciation and professionalism. A large part of that is thanks to the President, Chris Gilmartin, who has established a company culture that resonates strongly within the office walls.
Culture is something that’s important to have in any business because of the effect that it can have on its employees. Value is created when a company has a strong culture in place, and that value makes employees feel more connected and involved in their work. It also allows them to create bonds more easily with their co-workers, and makes people feel proud to work for their company. Company culture helps bring people together and creates a sense of meaning for the employees.
Even a recent study recognized the impact of establishing a strong company culture. When asked to rate their company on qualities like collaboration, communication, team-building, etc., employees that were already working within a strong company culture gave 20% higher ratings for their company than those that didn’t work within one. Having that sense of culture not only makes employees enjoy their environment and the work that they’re producing more, but it also directly aligns with the success of the business. According to Forbes, companies that have a powerful company culture have seen a 4x increase in revenue growth when compared with companies that don’t. In our current world, culture is influencing all aspects of a company’s business.
Culture at Lever Interactive
The culture at Lever Interactive is something special. It’s focused around its employees, and ensures that everybody feels welcomed and supported in the workplace environment. Nobody is ever put down or thought of differently, and everybody seems to be motivated by the success and accomplishments of others. In other words, Lever consists of employees that are invested in each other’s success, and that’s something that is truly unique to see in most businesses.
There are also other aspects of Lever’s culture that make it stand out and be exclusive in its own way:
Lever Interactive is all about giving back to the community. From time to time, Lever and its employees will participate in opportunities that help give back to the community and to those in need. In the past, Lever has raised money and/or volunteered for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Swifty Foundation, Cardz for Kidz, Opportunity Knocks, and many other great organizations. Additionally, the company commits to donating 1.5% of all profits to charitable causes. Another generous act that the company partakes in is donation matching. Lever will proudly match an employee’s donation to a charity or cause. This simple act of kindness demonstrates Lever’s ongoing commitment to giving back and making the world a better place. Charity donations, volunteering, and contributions all go along with supporting one of Lever’s five core cultural values – using success for good.
At Lever Interactive, everybody that you interact with will have a positive attitude. The atmosphere at Lever Interactive encourages others to interact and bond with one another. Employees are respectful of one another and always available for help or guidance. They’re able to realize your abilities and work with you until you’re able to achieve your full potential. Nobody is isolated at Lever, and that helps to create a culture of trust, teamwork, and excellent cooperation.
A lot of times in the agency life, employees can see a lack of communication between the different parts of the agency. Whether it’s the client team not interacting with the creative team, or the account team not collaborating with the operations team, there is always a chance that there is some sort of disconnect occurring. At Lever Interactive however, there is never an ‘us v. them’ mentality. The account team and the operations team work seamlessly together to ensure that all client needs and demands are being taken care of. There is strong communication consistently taking place in the workplace, and that results in more helpful and invested team members. The promotion of team-building also goes on to support another one of Lever’s five core cultural values – actively communicating.
Another wonderful aspect of Lever’s culture is their promotion of a strong work-life balance. At Lever, there is a strong care centered around employee’s personal time. There is no official start and end time to the day, and employees are not penalized for being sick or taking a personal day. During the summer, long-standing employees have the opportunity to engage in summer hours, where they’re able to leave a few hours early on Friday to start their weekend. Having this care for employee’s personal time is special, and has led to lower turnover rates and more engaged employees.
Lever Interactive has some unique and special workplace traditions that sets it apart from other agencies and offices. One tradition that seems to be an employee favorite is Make Mondays Suck Less (a borrowed term). MMSL is integrated into the Lever culture and is an activity that’s used to help employees ease into the start of a new week. An employee can plan a fun and short little activity for Mondays to help get the week started. In the past, employees have chosen cupcake decorating, mini golf challenges, bringing in special food, and so much more. It gives others something to look forward to and helps brighten the day at the start of a busy work week.
Another tradition that is integrated into the Lever culture is ‘the social hour.’ Every Friday around 3:30p.m., those whose schedules allow gather around an island in the kitchen and simply talk about how their week went, weekend plans, and anything else that may be on their mind. It’s a fun little break every Friday that lets employees recharge at the end of a busy week before finishing up anything that they may have to complete prior to heading home for the weekend.
Another special tradition at Lever is Bagel Wednesdays. Every Wednesday morning, bagels are brought into the office for employees to eat and enjoy. This is something that many people look forward to in the middle of the week.
A work tradition that is very beneficial to the success and development of the company is a series of meetings that occur at the start of every week called the Standing 15 and First 15. The Standing 15 meeting brings together everybody from both the account and operations side. The teams discuss what was accomplished during the previous week, as well as what still needs to be completed for the current week. It’s a great way to ensure that Lever is keeping up with all the client’s goals and needs. It also offers a great opportunity for the account and operations teams to collaborate and continue to build upon that trust and respect that was previously mentioned. The First 15 is a little different and involves the entire company. This time is allocated towards announcing new business, highlighting team accomplishments, sharing news or upcoming events, and praising employees who did a remarkable job throughout the previous week. It’s a confidence booster and gives employees something to work towards.
Through my experience thus far, I’ve learned what having a great company culture can do for a business, and Lever Interactive is certainly a positive example of what a strong company culture can look like. Culture influences everybody in the workplace and can really make a difference in employees’ lives. By understanding what makes up a solid company culture, businesses can look to improve their productivity and make the workplace a more welcoming and enjoyable experience for all.