I’ve never been in an office like this before, but then again, I’ve never worked in an office where its people came first before.
Don’t get me wrong, every employer I’ve ever worked for has TOLD me that its people were its most valuable resource, that a good employee is hard to find, and that employee retention is of the highest priority. They will say these things while using all the same lingo, the business jargon that signals to every employee with any experience that what is about to come is not truth, but an attempt at selling culture that may not exist. Words like empowerment and corporate culture. Words that are meant to make you feel good, but really mean nothing. And when you hear these words, you can be sure that the people speaking them, really don’t mean anything when they say them. Sure they want you to believe that you are empowered and that you contribute to the corporate culture, but perception, remember, is more important than reality. And the reality is, you are replaceable. You are a cog in a widget making machine. If the cog breaks, it will be replaced with a new cog. Which is why it’s so refreshing to be a part of a company that actually does place value in retaining its employees. Possibly even too much value.
The thing is, I was never told that I was important. I was never told that I was empowered to be creative or that I would play a role in building the corporate culture. Instead I was given the opportunity to be creative, and I’ve been invited to participate in their culture. I’ve only worked here for a week, but in that week I have learned why DevFacto has an employee retention rate of above 90%. Because they don’t talk about doing all the great things that other companies talk about doing, they do them.
The first time I walked into the DevFacto offices I was asked what kinds of things I would like to work on for my internship if I did, in fact, complete my internship through them. I said that I was interested in marketing, project management, and proposal writing. But that, as a communications major, I was really just looking for a place that would allow me to use the skills that I had learned in the past four years. And on my first day, I was given a schedule showing me when I would be working with marketing, project management, and proposals. Those things may change and, depending on the business, I may not be able to keep to the schedule that was provided, but the fact that they were so willing to take my preferences into consideration showed me what their culture was like. That is true empowerment.
The other day, there was a regional meeting at the Edmonton office where I work. And some difficult topics were brought up, and discussed. With the entire staff. Including me, an intern. We discussed the business, how it was running, what the difficulties were and how they affected each person. They went through the thought process of how they came to each decision and how difficult each decision was to make. This is, after all, a money making venture. What they didn’t do, however, was gloss over the negatives. Every employee was given the opportunity to understand the challenges and give feedback. And all the feedback was addressed. In real time. No parking lot. No “I’ll have to get back to you,” or “can we speak privately after this meeting.” Just reflections of what was happening and what needs to be done in the future. And it was hard. And emotional. And honest. And honest.
That, to me, is what sets DevFacto apart from other employers that I’ve worked for. I’ve always mattered to the people that I worked with directly, everybody does. But never have I been in a position in which I was important to the people that I may not yet even have met. Here, they’ve created that culture.
During the meeting there was some talk that we need to work on communication, because communication is something that always needs to be worked on, and in some ways communication can always be better. But in terms of creating culture, I believe that actions speak louder than words, and DevFacto is an actions company.