Workplace Culture & Keeping Employees Happy

Finding a job is hard enough. Feeling balanced, respected, challenged and fulfilled hour after hour, year after year can be even trickier. Recent studies have shown new workforce trends show most employees work much more than the average 40-hour work week; even less of those workers are retiring.

Liquid Web is an innovative, web-hosting business headquartered in Lansing, with locations in Ann Arbor, Phoenix and San Antonio.

Misty Combs has worked at Liquid Web for four years as the human resources director and considers their office culture as relaxed, yet rewarding.

“We describe ourselves as the ‘most helpful humans in hosting,’ with the company vision to ‘be the world’s most loved hosting provider.’ We describe ourselves as ‘cool tech,’” Combs said.

In a recent article, Andrew Jensen — a business growth, efficiency and marketing consultant — examines overtime work and productivity. His article discussed the overwhelming evidence that suggests working more than 40 hours per week is harmful to employees and their employers. Overworking results in poor nutrition, lack of exercise and sleep, increased stress levels and poor family life. This can also affect the mental health of employees, causing them to miss scheduled work.

Before her role at Liquid Web, Combs knew what it was like to work almost double the typical full-time job workload. She spoke about the importance for businesses keeping their talent interested by creating a space
for progress.

“For employers to retain their knowledgeable talent, I think it will be increasingly important to create opportunities for people to learn, grow within the organization and develop in the ways that interest them,” Combs said. “As both individuals and as an organization, if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. If we don’t allow people to grow within our walls, they will grow somewhere else and take with them valuable knowledge and experience.”

“But it is also not reasonable to expect people to live at their job. When I was young in my career, I typically worked 70-80 hours a week. That’s the last thing I want to do now,” said Combs. “It’s important for a job to allow a person to find and pursue their passion outside of work as well.”

Plenty of workplaces are creating a more laid-back work culture, inviting employees for luncheons, off-site parties and sporting events. Within the office, collaborative spaces and invitations to gather create a more welcoming feel in the 9-to-5 world.

Jill Rinckey is the employee and community ambassador at TechSmith Corporation (TechSmith), a software company in Okemos that’s been around for the last 30 years. Her role was created because TechSmith was aware of the importance of company culture, and they filled the need to have an employee liaison — keeping a pulse on things.

TechSmith offers its employees annual volunteer time off, happy hours, catered lunches on Friday, health care and benefits packages, social events for workers and their families, ranging professional development opportunities, tuition reimbursement, paid internships and even paid time off for birthdays.

“I believe it’s most often opportunities for development, open communication, defined and practiced mission and vision, and a culture of inclusiveness and belonging that makes the real difference for employees,” said Rinckey.

Culture is often created from decades of past behaviors and policies, which can become outdated if you don’t adapt with the changes in technologies and lifestyles of your employees.

Rinckey believes culture is something all employees take ownership of. “Your actions today can change what type of workplace experience you will have tomorrow,” she said.

“Remember that you as the candidate are also interviewing the company to see if it’s a good match,” Rinckey said. “Ideal work environments are unique to everyone, so don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding culture, management styles, values and mission.”

Although Liquid Web and similar companies are focused on a product which never shuts down — the internet — that doesn’t mean businesses expect all employees to work 24/7 year-round. They respect time off, provide flexible schedules and encourage employees to take advantage. They offer employees 80 hours of PTO in their first year of service, and an impressive 176 hours after five years.

Jessica Workman, corporate recruiting manager at Neogen, said the current job market is a candidate’s marketplace. “One of the trends I have been seeing is that applicants want to work for a company or an organization that has an impact on the world around them, and a focus on the greater good. We do have that at Neogen,” said Workman.

“That altruism — that sense of wanting to belong to the greater good, a greater purpose — is such a part of who we are. They really want to make sure they’re not only finding a position that matches their skill sets, but also meets their desires for a workplace,” Workman said.

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Sarah Spohn

Sarah Spohn

Sarah Spohn received her degree in Journalism from Lansing Community College. She’s a concert junkie; living and breathing in both the local and national music scene. She is proud to call Lansing her home, finding a new reason every day to be smitten with the mitten.

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