Organisational culture is something companies tend not to worry too much about. Particularly in the public sector where change is imminent, organisations frequently place developing a strong culture on the back-burner. But, actively managing organisational culture is vital. It influences the behaviours and attitudes of employees and management, all the while creating an environment that boosts employee retention, engagement, and job satisfaction. As a HR professional, you understand the value a strong organisational culture can have for both business performance, and overall workforce satisfaction. At INS, we pride ourselves on our culture, and our employees do too.
The organisational culture at INS: An inside perspective
I remember in my first few weeks of working at INS how difficult it was to pinpoint what it was about working here that made me feel like I’d won the job-seekers lotto. Was it the warmth and accessibility of the CEO? That could easily be put down to good PR – she’d just taken on a whole new team of employees for a big project. Maybe it was the way my manager started every team meeting by asking questions to find out what we had going on in our lives, wise-cracking the whole time because he can’t help himself from making every conversation funny and fun. But again, maybe that was just the blush of a new working relationship. After all, could anyone keep that up long term?!
But it doesn’t stop there. I care a lot about social and environmental issues and I never feel like I’m able to do enough. There are so many great charities out there doing incredible work, how can I possibly support them all? Working for a company that values and supports good causes means that I have more opportunities to contribute.
Arguably it could have been the cake. We’re not talking about Woollies iced vanilla cake that may have tasted good when it was first baked, but in it’s plastic cocoon has become an over-sweet slab of semi-hard sponge. No, this was real cake. Always from some authentic Italian, Swiss, French or Greek patisserie, and served alongside all manner of gluten-free, dairy-free or sugar-free delights for those among us who were more nutritionally discerning. And it was served up almost every week – sometimes twice! Before starting at INS, I would have said that I don’t much like cake, but this was an introduction to cake on a whole new level!
Thankfully the repetition of the cake-sharing ceremonies was quickly identified as a problem, and not just for me. Celebrations were reduced from one cake for each birthday to one cake for each month’s birthdays. The only down side was that this jeopardised my ability to chip in when I’d get together with friends after work who were complaining about their employers. Now that those divine cakes were only provided monthly, what was I going to be able to whinge about?
If the warmth of the INS vibe was just part of a ‘novelty factor’, the shine was due to wear off the fantastic new job around the end of March. As it happened, the timing of the expected shift across to “it’s not THAT great, it’s still WORK after all”, coincided with the INS Easter Egg Hunt. I’ve never laughed so hard or had so much fun at work as I do on the day of the egg hunt. The longstanding staff have turned it into a take-no-prisoners battle of wit and strategy. This makes it almost more fun to watch than it is to participate. I noticed on the train home that afternoon – sent home early by the CEO ‘because it’s the holidays’ – that my stomach muscles were sore from all the giggling.
Really though, there’s no question that the best thing about INS is the people. When friends and family asked me how I was enjoying my new job, that was absolutely the first, on a long list of things I loved. A great company with an inspired, dedicated and caring management team attracts and intentionally hires staff who are inspired, dedicated and caring. It’s a privilege to work alongside intelligent, committed and client-focused humans who are motivated by a desire to make a difference in the lives of our clients.
From morning teas held by staff to raise money for the RSPCA and the Cancer Council, to sending a group of staff volunteers to donate blood during their workday when supplies were low over Christmas, to having a team of staff walk on fire in the Dare the Boss campaign raising money for research into Childhood Cancer, to hosting a table at the School for Life Ball and contributing to the raising of $400k for an awesome initiative for the people of rural Uganda. All the ‘walking the talk’ slogans come to mind, but for me it’s as simple as working for a company with a conscience and strong culture.
I guess all of these things together just amount to working for an employer with ‘heart’. I was totally taken by surprise when our CEO, Sophia, talked to her new recruits on our first day about ‘love’. But, that is the essential ingredient that sets INS apart. Those among us who have worked with the company since it’s inception six years ago are like a family who have warmly invited me into their fold, celebrating my victories and building me back up in defeat. It’s an honour to get to work with these people and for this organisation every day. Organisational culture truly sets companies apart, and INS is a perfect example of this.
Article written by Sherryn McCarthy
Assessment and Facilitation Manager
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