A happy employee is a productive employee, but what does it take to create an enjoyable work culture? Mathilde Collin is the co-founder and CEO of Front, a San Francisco based company in business since 2013. Front offers an inbox for teams that replaces tools like Outlook, Gmail and instant messaging.
The company claims to have raised approximately $80 million in funding to date and have more than 5,000 customers, including Shopify, Hubspot and Cisco Meraki. Front company also claims a 100% rating on the employee satisfaction rating site Glassdoor.
“Expectations from people have evolved over the past few decades. And so people used to be very happy with just having a job. Then they were not happy anymore. They wanted a career that would make them fulfilled,” says Collin. “What people want is meaning, calling, purpose, being fulfilled, and I think companies should live up to these expectations.”
She believes happy employees demonstrate three traits.
Understands The Mission
A happy employee understands the overriding goal of their company. This step is easier for smaller business to get right because leaders are probably carrying out day-to-day work. When a company grows, effective leaders must shift from executing to hiring the right people for the right seats.
“I will always focus way more on whether the role that we’re thinking about is the right fit for the person versus whether thinking about whether the person is the right fit for the role,” says Collin.
Next, leaders should communicate the importance of the company’s mission clearly and often. Otherwise, a new employee might feel like they’re working in the dark.
Popular ways to communicate a company mission include sending weekly updates, sharing the results of board meetings and holding regular all-hands meetings. Collin also suggests leaders allow employees to provide feedback about the mission publicly or privately.
Uses Their Unique Skills
Every good employee wants to use his or her unique skills in a way that contributes to the growth of their company. “To me, the number one thing that every human being should do is [ask] ‘What am I uniquely good at?’” says Collin about this trait.
Unfortunately, employees don’t always get the opportunity to ask and answer this question at work because of overflowing inboxes or too many meetings.
After a few weeks of unfocused work, they might complain about feeling overworked and behind. A leader who wants to solve this problem must instill the discipline of time management in their employees.
“Every time is blocked for something, even if it’s not a meeting. But at least I know that at the end of the week, I have focused on the right things versus being [drawn] into what was urgent at that point,” says Collin. ”You can teach your employees to do that.”
Makes An Impact
A skilled employee might quit a company if he or she can’t see how their work affects the final product. This is a challenge for companies involved in information work whereby the final output reflects the contributions of many, rather than an individual.
In other words, a carpenter can craft and sell a table and feel like they did a good job, but a coder can probably point to only a single part of an evolving product. Often the coder’s work is built on, changed and updated.
According to Collin, transparency is a useful way of helping employees see their impact on the company. This might include sharing the latest results or key metrics on a dashboard that everyone can access.
“One thing that I will obsess over as the company scales is how I can make sure that anyone in the company knows what they need to know,” she says.
Work isn’t 100% positive all of the time, and even a motivated and happy employee must sometimes complete difficult, unpleasant or hard tasks. They might also have to occasional work late or harder when a deadline draws near.
“We are entering the last week of the quarter,” says Collin at the time of our interview. “People are going to work super hard [this weekend]. The goal is to say … Work is one thing you will care about, and your family and your health is another thing you will care about. And you will be disciplined enough to always know when it’s time to prioritize one or the other.”