There is nothing better than working in an organization that has a great culture. According to Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that nurturing a distinct culture is vital to the overall success of a business. Research shows that culture can account for 20%–30% of the differential in organizational performance when compared to “culturally unremarkable” organizations1. Each culture is unique, and several factors go into creating a positive culture of engagement.
At Root Inc., we have consciously crafted a people-focused and service-focused culture. Many of the habits, routines, and practices we have launched and sustained have contributed to the Root Inc. culture of engagement. Here are seven unique practices and routines that characterize our positive work environment, where people feel valued and do meaningful work together.
How Root Creates a Culture of Engagement
#1: We bring our purpose and values to life.
Our purpose is to invigorate the power of human beings to make a difference in the workplace. Our values are Creative Excellence, Servant Leadership, Fun, Authenticity, Engagement, Giving, and Collaborative Design. But these aren’t just words in our handbook. We work hard to bring our purpose and values to life each day.
How do we do this? One example is how we start our all-company meetings with positive peer callouts. Anyone who wants to can recognize another “Rootster” (our term for our fellow employees) for being an outstanding example of leading our purpose and displaying our values in their actions. This peer recognition is powerful, in part because anyone can step to the front of the room to highlight the impact of another person whose behaviors and actions represent what we stand for.
Once a year, we also hold our own equivalent of the Academy Awards, called the “Rooties.” This ceremony allows everyone in the company to nominate and vote for fellow Rootsters who exemplify our purpose, our values, and what we care most about. The event is meaningful but also humorous. Folks put on funny skits, showing we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but most importantly, we spend time celebrating the very best of our people, who “lead from where they are.”
#2: We honor our people as unique individuals.
When you join Root, one of our talented artists learns a little about you and creates a visual characterizing who you are. Each visual goes on the Root Illustrated wall, which symbolizes that we each belong to a community bigger than ourselves. It also shows that each of us is more than our job title, with a diverse set of skills, relationships, aspirations, and talents.
For each Rootster’s eight-year anniversary, we have a ceremony where a Root artist creates an even bigger and more comprehensive visual for that person that tells an in-depth story: who they are, what they care about, what they are good at, and why we so value their special contributions.
#3: We give thanks to those who help us grow with Growth Trees.
After four years at Root, each Rootster has an opportunity to recognize the one person who most contributed to their growth and development over those years. This recognition is symbolized with the “tree of life,” and is a meaningful reminder that contributing to another person’s growth is one of the most important things we can do to create a culture on engagement and growth.
#4: We celebrate our guests.
Servant leadership is a key aspect of Root’s culture. Everyone who visits our offices – which can be upwards of 400‒500 clients and prospective clients each year – is a guest in our home. In the past, we’ve asked our guests to sign our “guestbook.” But this is not your traditional guestbook. Each guest can sign or write a note on a paper leaf, which we hang on our relationship tree. This tradition has created an amazing spirit of community among our guests. Some even take their leaf home and decorate it with their company’s logo, then return to hang it on our tree during their next visit.
And that’s not all. We create photobooks for each client guest, asking them to document their visit, share a story, and add some photos to create a memento of their experience. It becomes a great record of our time together.
#5: We want you to come as you are.
For the most part, Root doesn’t care what you wear to the office. What we care about is who you are as a person and the impact you make on the people we have the privilege to serve. It’s common to see Rootsters wearing shorts, flip-flops, or college sports jerseys around the office.
And, if it motivates you, bring your dog, too. Just remember we don’t do business, we do life, and the life we do is about building meaningful relationships and doing meaningful work every day.
#6: We welcome giving leadership.
Giving is leadership. We empower anyone who is passionate about a cause to spearhead an organization-wide effort in support of that cause. It has been a wonderful opportunity for people with passion to lead – regardless of their title or role in the organization – and to mobilize the hearts and minds of the people of Root and beyond.
#7: We celebrate what we’ve have accomplished as a whole.
The narrative of Root and our culture is important to us. It’s so important that our six “eras” of Root – which we also refer to as the “chapters of Root” – have been captured in a series of movie poster-like visuals that hang in our office and show the drama of our challenges, aspirations, and accomplishments during each Root era. These posters make our surroundings look a bit like the lobby of a movie theater, but more importantly, they remind us of all we have accomplished.
The little things we do – and how we do them – matter to an organization’s culture, and the values and purpose are the starting point. For Root, traditions and practices such as the Rooties, Root Illustrated, Growth Trees, guest leaves, “come as you are,” giving leadership, and our “movie posters” all contribute to our culture of engagement.