Hq 2019

How to build a strong company culture

Here's what we do at Umbraco to keep our amazing employees happy

Hiring and onboarding new employees is one thing. But as we know, the costs of employee turnover is high. If you don’t work on having a great environment where your employees thrive, then it’s going to be very costly for you to keep replacing everyone.

Employees changing jobs is impossible to stop - especially in the tech industry - but there are things you can do to keep your turnover rate low. We believe that company culture is key to keeping employees happy and motivated day after day. Your product might be amazing in itself, but without the right culture, vision and values it's not going to be enough to keep employees around.

But what is company culture?

The 17-word, aka the short answer: Company culture is the combination of all the values, social interactions, and psychological behavior in an organization.

The 340-word, aka the long answer: Company culture is hard to define in specific terms, because unlike most essential things in business, it is entirely intangible, a feeling. Branding is closely intertwined with culture in every interaction that the company makes with any of its outside stakeholders. And if you want your brand to be consistent across all channels, you have to work towards a work culture that aligns with your corporate messaging.

A brand is a reflection of your company in the minds of your stakeholders.

That is why it takes on new forms in every piece of content shared on social media, every meeting with a possible client, and every shared lunch break with Debbie from the agency next door. A brand consists of many moving parts, some tangible, some not. The tangible can be boiled down to visual identity, messaging, and imagery, if need be. These can all be changed with a new set of guidelines, a new designer, or a new marketing department, but how do you control a culture?

Culture is not just a code of conduct, communication strategy, or a list of processes. Company culture includes all the small details:

  • The tone of voice management uses during a presentation or when they do an interview
  • How comfortable your employees feel about talking to their manager about non-work related issues
  • If the new sales intern feels like waking up in the morning on his second week on the job

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And that’s why culture is one of the hardest things to get right in a company, as it can't be acquired, mandated or forced. Culture has to be built and continuously monitored and maintained.

You can tell a lot about the company culture:

  • In the way, your company treats employees, customers and the surrounding community
  • In the degree that your employees are committed to the company values and goals
  • By how comfortable employees are with innovating, making decisions and expressing their opinions
  • In how information is broadcasted from one department to another and from the higher-ups to the lower-level employees

At Umbraco we've done a lot to keep our employees happy and to build a great company culture. Below are our thoughts on the following subjects:

  1. Freedom
  2. Is "When and Where" important?
  3. Personal growth
  4. Professional growth
  5. How important is salary?
  6. Non-linear progression
  7. Investment in employees
  8. Benefits for your employees
  9. Are you having any fun?
  10. Work-life balance

Umbraco HQ at Codegarden19

Freedom

Freedom is often hailed as the ultimate solution to happy employees. But most people have an easier time being creative when there are some restrictions in place.

Umbraco Tip

Example: If your company needs you to write as many slogans as possible selling pineapples in the next 10 minutes. When do you think you will produce more?

  1. If the 10 minutes is the only restriction
  2. If you have a 10 minute restriction, you cannot use the word pineapple and all the slogans have to be under 10 words or less?

Studies show that B. is the right answer - even though you have more freedom in A. Freedom is great and should never be underestimated, but complete and unrestricted freedom might not give the benefits you expect. Instead focus on giving guidelines to accompany the freedom - that'll benefit your employees more.

Sidenote: We tried this exercise at our office and we are currently considering a new venture in ’’Spikey yellow fruit’’ advertising.Umbraco pineapple icon

So does this prove that freedom may not be the answer to an infinitely creative and productive workplace culture?

Of course not - because we had the freedom to choose those restrictions.

 

User expectations and company needs dictate the tasks that have to be solved. Is there a bug in your product? Then you should fix it. How will you fix it? That's where the freedom kicks in. Employees should have the freedom to solve the problem in the way they want - not just following a 30-page guideline document. It is one of the most significant benefits you can grant your employees:

  • Always going with the tried-and-tested way to solve a problem takes all the learning and experimentation out of the process
  • If you always solve problems the same way, you shouldn't magically expect new and innovative solutions to them. Same old approach = same old results
  • If there is a framework, guideline or brand book for everything, proposing new solutions might be perceived as too much of a hassle to even suggest

 

Don't get us wrong here, freedom doesn't mean that you have to find new and creative ways to solve a problem every single time. Sometimes the tried-and-tested way is truly the best way to go. The important thing here is that it shouldn't always be the knee-jerk reaction to follow a fixed manual every time.

If you find the perfect balance in the above, you will have the Why and How of task management covered; User expectations and company needs taking care of Why and employee freedom taking care of How. But freedom in the workplace is a complicated thing. The Why and How are questions that have to be answered or the work will never get done.

But why not take more weight off of people’s shoulders by not having them stress over the When and Where as well?

Is "When and Where" important?

Allowing for a full five-day remote work schedule is not something that can be implemented instantly, it’s something that companies have to build towards over time (Unless a pandemic forces your hand, that is).

For a large portion of companies, a full week of remote work might not even make sense at all. But giving people the freedom to work from home as needed on special occasions can remove a lot of unnecessary stress.

If a person needs to take care of some errands, look after the kids, or maybe they are not feeling well enough to drive to the office, but well enough to work, why not have the option of working from home?

Let’s say one of your employees is trying to sell his apartment. In most companies, this would mean that he has to run back and forth between the apartment and the office to deal with potential buyers, real estate agents and contractors. But does he really have to?

Would it not be more comfortable for him to stay at home and work between his private engagements? And would it not make it easier for his team members and managers not to have to keep track of his travel schedule? If the work gets done in the right time frame, does his physical presence at the office really matter?

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Umbraco Tip

At Umbraco, we've done remote work from day one. With employees located around the world in different time zones, we've always had to deal with the "When and Where". By being flexible - on both sides - it's never been an issue to have someone working from home halfway around the world. Nor has it been an issue for someone to work from home 10 minutes from the office if they prefer it that way.

During the global pandemic we were quick to ensure that everyone had a setup at home that allowed for secure and comfortable remote work. This setup has not been changed after we've opened up the office again. Simply because we have seen great results from letting our employees decide when to work remote and when to be at the office. This has both been in terms of when in the day to work as well as where to work.

We give our employees the benefit of the doubt and always assume positive intent. So far it has always paid off and remote work has not had any significant impact on productivity. In some cases it's been quite the contrary.

Personal and professional growth

Every movie about an office work environment has managed to, in one way or another, demonize the monotony of sitting at a cubicle doing the same work every single day. And who can blame them? Doing the same thing over and over again is widely referred to as the definition of insanity.

No one wants to feel like they aren’t progressing in their job. And this rings especially true when we are talking about ambitious and talented employees. If someone wants to stay motivated, they need to continually have an eye on the newest developments in their field.

So how do you create a work environment where there's room for growth - both personal and professional? There are many ways to help talented employees fuel their passion for their work. Every person is looking for something different, but here are a few ideas that should be universally interesting for most people:

Personal growth

Personal growth comes in many forms and there's no universal way to foster it at a work place. But there are a few simple ones you can look at:

 

Courses and conferences

There are always new books and courses popping up, covering the latest and greatest developments in the industry. If your employees asks you to help fund their growth, it’s one of the best ways to show them that you are counting on them in the future. Maybe there is a developer conference coming up that would help them meet some like-minded people and gather industry knowledge? While it may seem like a big investment to send one or multiple developers away for a few days, the new knowledge and energy they bring back will pay dividends now as well as in the future.

 

Schools and degrees

A similar approach to the one about courses and conferences, to an even higher degree (forgive the pun), should be taken if an employee asks about the possibility of returning to school. Maybe they got this job straight after finishing their bachelor’s degree. Maybe they want to go for a manager position and think that leadership training would greatly improve their outlook. Or maybe they want to slowly transition to another position, but wish to stay at the company. Customer lifetime value and return on investment are some of the most important metrics that companies measure. But try to imagine the “employee lifetime value”, of someone who you helped reach their full potential.

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Professional growth

How do you ensure that your employees don't feel stuck in their job and lose motivation? Let's start with the two most obvious ones:

 

A promotion

While most talented people love what they do, as they repeat the same tasks day after day, eventually, they will find ways of improving the process or get ideas for new ventures that the team should pursue. And there is only so much one can do from the bottom of the corporate ladder. Career growth is often a key part of motivating high performers. So a company needs to provide these opportunities if they want to retain their top talent. Otherwise those people might look for those higher positions elsewhere.

 

A raise

A raise usually goes hand in hand with a promotion. However, while every promotion should come with a raise, not every raise has to come with a promotion. Many people are not after the responsibility that comes with a promotion, they just like what they do. They aren’t looking to delegate their tasks to their would-be replacements as a manager, but instead enjoy producing valuable work for the company Why not reward these hard-working employees with a raise? Sometimes it's as simple as that.

How important is salary?

Perks and benefits that save employees money in the long run are always a valuable addition to a pay check. Addition being the keyword here.

No amount of pizza parties can supplement the 10% increase in salary that people could get at the other software company right across the street. Except, that’s not the case. Actually, the statistics surrounding this point in the exact opposite direction:

  • 32% of people polled in the US would take a 10% pay cut to work at a company where they like the culture
  • 58% of workers will stay at a lower-paying job if it means having a great boss
  • 60% of workers would even take half of the potential paycheck if it meant working at a job they love

 

So if culture makes up for the differences in salary between your company and the company next door, how do you structure the salaries in your company to both attract and retain the best employees out there?

 

Don’t buy stars, build them

Have a partnership with the local media and technical schools that provides internships and part-time positions for promising students. If you follow our onboarding tips and you build a functional onboarding program, after a couple of weeks, your time investment in onboarding them should already be paying you back. And in a few months? You might just have your hands on your newest superstar.

 

Have a clear progression path

Be upfront and transparent with the salary structure. It will eventually become the biggest motivator for the employees in the lower tiers. Without a clear progression path for your employees it can be hard for them to stay motivated. Without knowing the path an employee can feel their progression is too slow and become unhappy. Having a clear progression path - and regularly scheduled follow-ups - will help alleviate.

 

Promotions, raises and employees who feel undervalued

If you adopt a clear progression path your employees should have a clear overview of where they fall and what they need to achieve to take the next step. But as it goes with highly ambitious people, you will always have individuals who take on more than their fair share of responsibility and then don’t feel adequately compensated. The answer should be obvious. If the employee performs above the set expectations, has the data to back it up, and asks for an increase in pay, they should get one. Sadly, when working with more than one person, it will never be that easy. Ben Horowitz summed it up the best in his class on Y combinator - how to start a startup:

 

 

An important point he brings up is: If you give one employee a raise, will you also give everyone else who is also performing well a raise? What about the employees who are performing just as well, but their personality prevents them from asking directly?

Umbraco Tip

Apart from being approachable overall, managers and senior members at Umbraco don't shy away from these "hard" conversations with employees. Quite the contrary; we do our best to have these conversations as often as necessary for all employees to feel valued and heard.

Here's two of the ways we do that company-wide:

  1. Monthly walk and talk 
    A manager and employee go for a half-hour walk outside of the office, talking about current projects, plans for future projects, the progress of the employee and any problems they might be having. The topics of the conversation can be anything really, and it's the perfect place for an employee to voice any concerns or problems they might be having. Big or small, work-related or private, the topics can be anything that the employee wants to talk about.

  2. Yearly progress conversation
    Performance reviews are usually seen as a negative process because of the negative associations that people usually have with them. Walk and talks remove the need for quarterly performance reviews at a scary meeting room table. But a walk and talk is not really the place to sign contracts and obsess over spreadsheets. So how about a yearly progress review, close to the end of the year, talking strictly about the employee’s progression path and salary? That way, both current problems can be addressed from month to month, and larger issues or achievements can be accumulated over time.

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Non-linear progression

When hearing the words ’’non-linear’’, if your mind immediately jumps towards video games, you already sort of get the point.

In a non-linear game progression system, you start at the same spot as every other player. But when you arrive at a crossroads, instead of going straight down the first path like you usually would, you get to choose if you want to go left, right, or even take a step back and see if you can get to your current position again, by taking another path. This progression helps you pick up new skills and new experiences that will make the path ahead much easier.

This is also how the current trend in career progression looks. Companies no longer expect people to stay in the same career path for decades, slowly working their way up the corporate ladder. This rings especially true for software companies, where skills from different career paths transfer almost seamlessly and complement each other with a broader outlook on the problems being solved.

Umbraco progression icon

As an example, if you have a frontend developer who discovered she likes designing more than she likes coding, you should give her a chance because:

  • She already knows the limitations that code can have on some designs
  • She can design with systems and reusable assets in mind
  • She can give better estimates on project length and the overall development time
  • If she wants to progress further into something like art direction, the added coding skills are always a plus when communicating to developers

If your company has people who have invested in their craft to the point where they are considered experts, top talent, or masters, their progression will eventually hit a plateau.

And while just existing at the top and using your skills to their full potential is a fantastic feeling... ultimately, the need for self-improvement and innovation that got them to the top of the talent pool will make them want to progress further. But you can’t really go further up than the top, so where do you go? This is where people start considering switching jobs or pursuing entrepreneurship because it seems like the only challenging way forward.

 

The classic solution to this “problem” is to promote them to the management level. Clearly, if someone is performing exceptionally well as a specialist they will automatically become an exceptional manager... Right? The solution is not always that simple and pushing someone to become a manager (or a manager of a bigger team than before) is not for everyone. Some top talent enjoy being a specialist and would rather spend their time performing their tasks, than managing a team.

 

The Peter Principle

"In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." - Laurence J. Peter, author of The Peter Principle

 

That quote refers to what is known as The Peter principle, a concept of management developed by Laurence J. Peter. The principle suggests that people tend to get promoted outside of their skillset and competence, based on previous success.

Meaning: Your best front-end developer is first and foremost... a frontend developer. Having 10 award-winning projects under her belt does not make her an instant candidate for managing the next project or being promoted to team lead. That requires knowledge of front-end and an additional management skill set, lack of which could lead to disaster down the line.

 

The modern solution to the problem is working with non-linear progression and promotion. Instead of the career path only going one way - towards management - you can set an alternative path. This could be anything from giving your top talent more influence on projects or a seat at the table when tough decisions are made to simply giving more freedom to perform tasks their own way. Once you start thinking outside the box you’ll be amazed at the possibilities there are for non-linear progression.

And the result?

Happier and more motivated employees that gets a truly unique position at your company, which they won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Umbraco Tip

At Umbraco, a lot of our junior employees start out in the SWAT (Support Warrior And Troubleshooter) team, helping our users with day to day issues. This helps them naturally and quickly get an overview of all the other departments, the products, and how everything fits together. They also get a unique insight into how our users interact with our product and which issues and questions they have about it.

Later they can choose to transition into newly opened positions in the company that they find interesting or get places in completely new positions based on their specializations. Do they want to get involved in our training courses or webinars? What about documentation or maybe a completely new role where their skills can excel?

With a non-linear mindset there's few limits as to what you can do to get the most out of your employees.

Jonathan and Kristian happy employees

Investment in employees

You have to spend money to make money. And you have to invest in your employees to keep them around.

Achieving maximum focus in an office setting where a million things are gunning for your attention is tough.

All of that can be managed with a good work culture and processes. But if you don’t have the right equipment and tools, you’ll never be as efficient as you could be.

Maybe a chair is uncomfortable. Maybe you can still hear your sales team in the other room, even with your headphones on. Or maybe you found a SaaS tool that would save you hours upon hours of repetitive tasks.

If someone asks for a new keyboard, new tool, or new screen, it’s never a good idea to dismiss them right away. The person asking rarely brings up an issue like this on a whim, it has to be premeditated in some way, and that means that the problem they are facing is a recurring one.

 

A one-time investment, no matter how large, is actually pretty small when looking at it as a long term investment in focus and productivity. If a company shows that it cares about its employees in all the ways that matter, the employees will return it multiple times over. Here are some small things in no particular order that could make or break an employee relationship with the company:

  • IT equipment
    If you ask someone to work in front of a computer 8 hours each day, you better make sure they have the proper equipment to do their job. This includes everything from computer equipment to noise-cancelling headphones and SaaS tools to do their job.

  • Chair and desk
    This one is connected to the one above; spending a third of their day in uncomfortable working conditions will severely hurt their productivity and health. It can seem like a big investment, but opting for the cheapest option here can end up costing you more than your initial savings.

  • Coffee, refreshments and snacks
    We know it might not sound like much, but making sure that your employees have access to all the basics like coffee, cold water (or soda) and some fruit can drastically increase their productivity and improve health.

  • Indoor climate
    The stereotype of a developer might be someone sitting in a dark basement with a hoodie on.- Nothing could be further from the truth if you want them to be productive and happy. Proper lighting, some plants and good ventilation are all tiny details that have a huge impact on everything from wellbeing and health to productivity and creativity.

Benefits for your employees

If you want to take it a step further with investing in your employees, there's a ton of benefits you could look into. While exercise and events are only a few out of many possibilities, we've found that these can really help improve employee productivity and satisfaction. Why? Because our employees are people after all. So instead of only looking at direct work-related improvements, we've looked at where we could invest to help our employees as people.

 

Exercise

Exercise is great for our health - there's nothing controversial about that statement. But what if you can't find the time to do it as often as you'd like? Or what if you don't want to pay for a gym membership, because lifting weights bores you? How about doing it on company time and dime instead?

Studies have shown that companies benefit greatly from offering their employees to exercise during work hours or by paying for it. Simply because it pays off in more than one way:

  • Employees who exercise regularly have more energy and are less prone to being sick
  • Early starters can sneak a quick workout before work
  • If people need to stay at the office late, they can get a quick energy boost by having a quick workout
  • Allowing people to exercise on company time shows that the company cares about them as people, not just employees
  • For certain people, friendships and bonds can be created much easier while exercising or doing sports than in an office environment

 

Exercise and working out are quite broad terms - but is often associated with being in a gym and lifting weights. It doesn't have to be that way though. Here are some examples from Umbraco HQ to provide some inspiration:

  1. Weekly team sports
    Do you feel like a good game of football to kick off the week the right way? Or do you need to get an extra energy boost on Wednesday afternoon with a bit of floorball? 

  2. Daily 5-minute exercise break
    Every day at 2 PM, everyone in the office stands up from their desk, closes their laptop, and gathers in the hall. For the next two minutes, we try to hold a plank (the exercise, not the meme from 2011). After the plank is done, everyone finds the nearest wall, and we proceed to try and hold a 3-minute wall sit as well. (Which can eventually turn into a fantastic album cover if you have a creative enough marketing department)

  3. "Sweat meeting"
    Every Tuesday morning, instead of sitting in a boardroom for 3 hours, our management goes to the gym together under the oversight of a personal coach. They then proceed to work out and discuss pressing issues and plans until lunch. Many great strategies and ideas were born during these meetings, no slides, no presentations, or graphs necessary.

Events

Team Building events are now a staple of corporate lingo. But they don’t have to be centered around coming up with new ideas or strategies. If you are somewhere having fun with your colleagues, no matter the environment, you will eventually bring up work. A friendship formed on a paintball field will also lead to a closer relationship at work.

A random bowling alley conversation at 3 AM could be the source of some outstanding process ideas. These are all just as possible as a couple of napkin sketches at a lunch meeting, making a billion dollars at the box office.

Here are some of the events we do at Umbraco HQ, which might inspire you:

Umbraco Tickets icon

  1. Team night out
    Have one night out with your team every second month. Rotate the planning responsibility from person to person and pick:
    • One nice restaurant or bar
    • A fun activity that everyone can participate in like bowling, escape rooms, board games or paintball
    • The company pays

  2. Fun Squad
    2-3 times a year, one (secret) representative from each team arranges a social event for the entire company. It's basically the same as the team night out, just for everyone at the company instead of only for the individual teams. The activity can be anything from curling or paintball to bridge walking and treetop climbing.

  3. Company fabulous Friday
    On the first Friday of every month, one team prepares a program for the entire company on a Friday afternoon with a chosen theme. They have a set budget, but other than that, they can go crazy. (Last time the Umbraco marketing department did it, we turned the lunchroom into an Italian restaurant for the night). This is also a great place to share big wins that anyone might have had in the previous month, so we can celebrate as a company.

  4. Friday bar
    It might be a cliche, but ending the week by having a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) with colleagues is a great way to unwind, relax and talk about the work week. Or talk about anything but work.

  5. Company retreat
    Have a company retreat once or twice a year to some remote location, preferably with no internet (sounds terrifying, we know, but it provides a nice reset for the mind)

Are you having any fun?

Fun at a workplace is a fickle thing. Everyone inherently knows what fun is, but if you had to define fun at the workplace, it would not be as easy as it first sounds. Looking up the definition of fun will also get you reprimanded by the dictionary (see exhibit A), and there is no one sure way to define it.

The only sure thing is that if the most interesting thing at the office on the first day is the photocopier, the new employee getting the tour will probably start looking for another job during the lunch break.

 

Urban Dictionary definition of "fun"

Exhibit A. Source: Urban Dictionary

 

The overall feeling of fun at the workplace impacts productivity. And so it’s a topic without any specific bullet points, but a topic to think about and discuss nonetheless.

If you want to have fun at the workplace but can’t manage to play chess on one screen while maintaining your focus on coding, or your keyboard shortcut hand is also your balloon tying hand, you will probably need to interact with other people eventually. But there is only a limited level of friendship and camaraderie that you can build with people when talking about code and sending each other design files.

When was the last time someone asked a different water cooler question than: ’’So, how was the weekend/any plans for the weekend?’’ In most companies, it has probably been a while. And that’s expected. If you work in a consistent and focused environment, there are only so many topics that can come to mind.

But if you change up the setting, if you do different activities together, you might build more than just classic coworker bonds. You might build friendships. And what could be nicer than looking forward to Monday morning at the office to see your friends?

 

But not everyone comes to work looking for friendship. Especially top performers who just want to put on their headphones, get to work and forget that they are in an office environment. Sadly (or luckily) headphones run out of battery, the wifi goes down, and progress meetings exist. Eventually, even the most focused people have to talk to their coworkers. And since you spend most of your day at work, people would prefer to cut down on the dry, corporate jargon and instead discuss or do something... fun.

This again brings us to the topic of shared values. The job of a back-end developer, a office manager and an account manager require different personalities. So if your company wants to have a varied offering of skills and backgrounds, you will have to find values that connect with every group.

And those values should not just be the ’’standard’’ values that are put on the “about us” page. The values that make up the constantly evolving personality of your company. If you do this, you will eventually have a company full of like minded individuals that don’t need to act corporate 24/7 and might even joke around from time to time.

 

There is a thin line between having fun at the workplace and being overly quirky and disrupting everyone’s work. Unfortunately, you can also never get full value-alignment with every person that has been hired. But a company where people think of each other as nothing more than colleagues and only spend time together at work is a company that will have trouble scaling and keeping up with the more friendly teams later on. Your culture and environment both have an impact on the quality of your work. 

At Umbraco we know that it's a hard balance to get just right. But we also know that having fun and enjoying your work is a big part of being happy. We've found that happy employees are also more productive. That's why we've found that allowing all employees to be 6,13 % crazy results in the perfect mix of fun and productivity. 

Work-life balance

Sadly, the tech world never sleeps and it's probably not the place that people typically go looking for great work-life balance. Especially when talking about people devoted enough to their craft to be considered top talent with ambitions to be the very best in their field.

Unfortunately that also means that many will end up taking their work home with them - even if they didn't mean to. This does not mean, however, that companies should not strive to provide a balance between top performance at the workplace and a relaxed personal life for their employees.

Firstly, it is each employee’s responsibility to decide what work-life balance means to them. A company can only facilitate the decision-making process, as this decision is solely based on every individual’s own ambition and at which stage of life they find themselves in.

Secondly, a company has to address this topic in the hiring process. If a company promises a tight schedule and overtime, the potential employee with a young family might reconsider. On the other hand, if a company guarantees a calm, employee-first environment, they will have to restrict the number and scope of projects that any given employee is given.

 

If these two points align, they form the basis of planning for work-life balance. But while putting the employee first, how does a company ensure that the employees are not misusing this trust, slacking off on company time when working from home, or using that time for personal projects?

It starts with a mentality to stop counting work hours. Instead it's time to look at specific metrics that measure actual output and productivity when it comes to deliverables for each project and person. If an employee delivers the output expected, then it shouldn’t matter if the employee is painting their fence between pitch meetings.

On the other side of the spectrum, some people find it hard to focus on anything but work. There are people who view their work as their passion and the center point of their entire life. This is also where the company should keep track on people who work 10-12 hours everyday or work during the weekend. While it is nice to be 2 weeks ahead of schedule on a project, there is only so long a person can endure such a mental/physical strain on their body. Eventually, people burn out, and the long term effects of burning out, by far, outweigh the short term uptick in productivity.

 

To help encourage a better work-life balance, there are a few things a company can do to help an employee from working when they shouldn’t:

  • We're so scared of missing out - on anything. And with the rise of smart phones it has meant that notifications control much of our life (for good and bad). This has blurred the lines between work and leisure time. To combat this, it's well worth it to encourage employees to snooze work-related notifications outside of office hours. No matter if it’s emails, Slack or something else, you can always control the notification settings on your phone. By snoozing notifications outside of working hours, you minimize the need for someone to check their phone when they’re not supposed to and allow them to actually rest and recover, so they're ready to work when they're back at the office.

  • Send employees home. Did someone just pull off a full week of 10 hour days? Give them Monday off - even if they don’t ask for it. Not everyone will ask for time off - or even need it - but by giving it to them anyway, you’ll ensure that they’re never afraid to ask for a break if they’ve been working hard for a period of time.
  • Don't send emails outside office hours. We’ve all been there - we just thought of something we didn’t want to forget, so we sent an email to a colleague even though it was 9 PM. 3 minutes later they replied; even though they weren’t supposed to answer until tomorrow. To avoid this from happening, you can set up company guidelines for sending emails outside office hours. That will also make it easier for employees to not check their work email.

  • Life happens; be flexible. Working 9-5 is fine, as long as nothing new happens. But life rarely stands still for your employees. Give them the flexibility to manage their own time; whether that means taking care of a sick child, going to the mechanic with their car or going to the bank. If you force them to take hours or days off to manage these things you can’t be surprised if they’re not willing to work any overtime.

 

So what's the perfect work-life balance? There is no simple answer - it all depends on the circumstances, the company and the individual employee. But what you can do as a company is stop using it as a buzzword and instead walk-the-walk. Be flexible, open and honest with your employees and assume positive intent - and expect the same in return. If you do that, we've found that you can accommodate individual wishes from employees without it hurting productivity.

 

A healthy work-life balance is part of the company culture at Umbraco and is very important to us.

We believe that the secret to productive employees is to make sure they are happy. A strong company culture, shared values and a focus on work-life balance is the route we've chosen.

Download the full ebook

Do you want to keep reading? Then download the full 37-page ebook that will take you through how we recruit, onboard and retain our employees - including more tips on how we to build a great company culture.

Umbraco team being social

Loved by developers, used by thousands around the world!

One of the biggest benefits of using Umbraco is that we have the friendliest Open Source community on this planet. A community that's incredibly pro-active, extremely talented and helpful.

If you get an idea for something you would like to build in Umbraco, chances are that someone has already built it. And if you have a question, are looking for documentation or need friendly advise, go ahead and ask the Umbraco community on Our.

Number of active installs
502567
Number of active members in the community
221745
Known free Umbraco packages available
1211