Company values are a tried-and-true accompaniment to any business’ development plan. A company values list can come from the company’s founders, or it might be created in a more collaborative way. No matter the source, though, company values are largely accepted as necessary. But why? Maybe you’ve worked somewhere and felt the values were arbitrary and inaccurately reflected your workplace’s reality. Maybe you know that your company has values, but don’t know what they are. So — are they really that important?
As it happens — yes. A company’s core values should be the guiding principles that make up that company’s culture. When an employee in any role at the company faces a challenging decision, they can then fall back on values to help guide their choices. This allows your whole team to move towards a unified goal, instead of working siloed and in the dark.
Company culture matters even more when you’re thinking of hiring new talent, or retaining the best you have. 35% of American workers say they would pass on the perfect job if they felt the company culture was a bad fit for them. If you’re a creative agency concerned with employing top creative talent, then, it’s crucial that you consider the company values that are most important to creatives. Read on to learn which values can place you among the companies with great culture.
Now more than ever, creatives appreciate the value of great teamwork. Having colleagues to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm with, and push to ever-greater standards of excellence is invigorating. Maybe you’ve heard the Helen Keller quote, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Not only is there scientific evidence to back this up, but successful companies reinforce the value of teamwork. According to a survey, 86% of employees at the winning 2019 Fortune 100 Best Organizations to Work For said you can count on people to cooperate, and 91% said people care about each other. Collaboration helps make creatives better, and the best creatives seek out that growth.
If you want top-notch creatives, another must-have on your company values list is variety. Creatives look for variety to keep them engaged in their work, and it can come through many different outlets. Your business could different tools available for your creative teams to use, or different types of projects that they can work on at a given time. Even things down to designer colors and patterns offer creatives the variety that they crave, so they can make their own unique stamp on their projects — and on your business.
Flexibility is a key cultural value for creatives in the workplace. Creative employees want their preferred methods of working to be accepted by those they work for. For example, some designers do their best work in the morning — they get up, are super creative, and by the mid-afternoon, they’re done. Other designers aren’t going to be ready until 4PM, but they’ll work through the night to do their best work. As an employer, you can’t try to fit a creative into the 9 to 5 bucket if you truly want to get the best out of them. A sprint mentality is the better approach: say, “You have this many days to complete your task, do what you need to do to get it done.” This type of flexibility will ensure you’re getting the best out of your team, and that they feel respected and supported to work the way they need to.
Perhaps this seems like the most obvious value on the list, but it’s also one that can so easily be taken for granted. You might think, “This is a creative role — creativity is baked in!” But creativity as a part of your business culture is a few steps above a straightforward creative role. A creative culture looks like teams cross-collaborating to shake up projects and gain fresh perspectives. It’s innovation at every level of the business. It’s taking nothing for granted, and creating a safe environment where all ideas can be shared. Don’t just hand out ideas. Foster imagination.
Different people have different motivations. Where one person might feel fulfilled by doing high-quality work for a company who appreciates it, another might be motivated by helping their team members. As a company, if your culture is to understand what motivates each individual on your team and make space for them to do that work, you can personalize your coaching and your projects to best support your people. By including personalization in your company values, your coaches, creative team members, C-suite and all other levels of your business will seek to understand their peers as a matter of course.
A common company value, development is important to most employees as it allows them to grow in their career. For creatives specifically, development can be an exciting way for a designer to add more tools to their tool belt. If you have a creative who is an expert in Photoshop but has never worked in XD, assigning them a project task with the unfamiliar tool can be a great way to push their artistic boundaries. Online classes and certifications are just a few other ways that you can provide your creatives with the resources to grow.
Modern creatives who are a part of the millennial and Gen Z populations in particular are drawn to agencies where service is at the heart of company culture. Whether this presents itself in monthly food drives, fundraisers for causes, or time off to volunteer as a team, your creative employees want to feel that the business they are working for has the best interest of others in mind. It can help to provide a sense of purpose for your team, and it’s a great value for your business.
In the same way that service is a strong purpose-providing value, a sense of community can help ground your team in the work they are doing. Community is a value that can be combined with service, by supporting local non-profits and services. It can also be built through business-related conferences, mixers, and other events. If there are marketing-related gatherings, encouraging your creatives to participate (and sending senior leadership to represent as well) will help create a community within your industry, which can feel like a huge perk to your creative employees.
Transparency is another value that is globally important to businesses across industries, but creatives seek it out because it helps them understand the parameters of the work they are doing. Nothing is as frustrating as sinking hours — or days — of work into a project, only to find that budget cuts have killed it. Of course there will be things that happen outside of your control, and creatives can roll with the punches. But if your team feels like you hide important or helpful information from them until it’s too late, you’ll lose their trust and their motivation to do their best work.
The final value creatives long for is one that Sparxoo has summed up cheekily: Do Your Freaking Job (DYFJ). If you build the other nine values into your company culture, creatives will be set up to thrive here. The idea behind “DYFJ” is to trust your team, know that everyone is putting in their best effort — and simply get the work done, with high quality and to deadline. When creatives have the flexibility to do their best creative work, when they can trust and rely on their teammates, and when they feel motivated by a higher purpose, they’ll be in the best mindset to do their job, and do it well.
Embracing these values is a lot easier when your team’s tasks are organized and everyone is on the same page. If you want some help with that, try CROOW — a project management tool designed with creative collaboration in mind.