Kelsey Hojan-Clark

If you search for “workplace culture” in Merriam-Webster, you won’t find a definition. At first I found it hard to believe that this term isn’t formally defined yet. But then I considered the complexity of workplaces and the important, yet exceedingly variable, role that culture plays within organizations.

What Does Workplace Culture Mean

Without a formal definition, we have seemingly endless opportunities to create positive workplace cultures tailored to what our particular companies need. No, this doesn’t mean that you need a kombucha tap, a cold brew station, or even a ping pong table in your office. Rather, you can help create an environment that allows you and your colleagues to feel supported and heard—whatever role you play at your company.

As companies change and grow, it’s inevitable that mindsets, work ethics, and positive or negative energies evolve. And that’s okay! Workplace cultures should go through regular evolutions.

But within those workplace culture evolutions, having “tough” conversations, challenging yourself and others every day, bringing your full self to work, and surrounding yourself with people that can make you better—professionally or otherwise—should be constants in shaping a successful workplace culture.

The most important constants in keeping your workplace culture intact during inevitable, and necessary, change is the reminder of three essential elements:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Values

I feel so fortunate to work for a company that constantly and consistently showcases these three integral parts. At the beginning of every town hall, fireside chat, or standup, our CEO, Tom Davidson, displays EVERFI’s Vision:

Empower all people, through education, for life’s most critical moments.

A company’s vision, often formed by the CEO and it’s founders, sets the stage. It is the initial stake in the ground, the root of a company’s inclusive workplace culture. Without a vision, how can a company’s leaders and its employees know not only their WHO and WHAT they’re working towards, but their WHY?

Following the vision, Tom will then showcase EVERFI’s Mission:

Leverage scalable technology to build innovative, impactful education networks that empower people and transform communities.

This mission helps to provide the roadmap for an organization, providing the HOW towards accomplishing the vision.

And last but most certainly not least, Tom will remind us of the EVERFI Values:

  1. Relationships First
  2. Demand Excellence
  3. Embrace Diversity of Thought and Drive Change
  4. Act Like an Owner
  5. Always Show Up
  6. Share the Credit
  7. Require Honesty & Positivity
  8. Always Ask “Did I Matter Today?”

Perhaps it’s the fact that I have a print-out of our values pinned to my desk or my psychological craving to be a part of a team, but there’s something so thrilling about having a shared purpose with those around me.

By having the tone set from the very top, it serves as a great reminder of our collective WHY.

To me, my workplace culture is defined by this connection and unwavering support to what my company stands for.

That’s not to say companies won’t encounter difficult scenarios that test and challenge the way things are done, but there should be a foundational purpose that employees can work together to fulfill.

Workplace culture is built upon the collection of many differences, attempting to mix and melt into one entity. The ever-changing result will be determined by how you continue to define and act within your workplace culture.

So, what does your workplace culture look like? How do your leaders challenge toxic workplace culture to make a better work environment?