Sarah Wilson is chief people officer at Rokt. Views are the author's own.
It’s no secret that a vibrant and distinctly positive company culture often leads to the overall success of the company. Happy and engaged employees tend to put their best foot forward and work passionately and collaboratively to make a company successful.
In a recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. employed adults, Deloitte found that nearly all executives (94%) and almost 9 out of 10 employees (88%) said they believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. But what, specifically, does it mean to have a strong company culture? How can executives create an environment where employees feel valued, fulfilled, and happy?
Oftentimes, strong culture is confused with surface level perks — beer in the kitchen or comped company lunches. While these perks are a great way to increase employee happiness in the short term, they do little for long-term employee engagement and team culture.
At Rokt, culture philosophy is deeply rooted in complete transparency. Transparency is one of those often-used buzzwords that people like to use when trying to distinguish their company culture from others. However, its overuse should not subvert its importance. Cultural trends and human behavior prove time and time again that people like people whom they can rely on and trust.
Workplace transparency means operating in a way that creates openness and helps build trust between managers and their teams. An open workplace should encourage clear communication, collaboration and understanding of others without the presence of fear.
It sounds easy, but it truly takes a collective effort to foster and maintain. Everyone in the organization, all managers and all employees at every level, need to be committed and invested in honest communication in every area.
Below are a few examples of how we champion transparency to maintain our people-first culture.
All employees at all levels can see the salaries and skills for every position in the company. A public "career ladders" document details the skills necessary for every role within the company, as well as the salary and stocks/equity associated with each position. Not only does this promote full transparency, but it ensures equality too. Employees in the same role receive identical compensation regardless of their gender, race or negotiation skills.
While salary transparency was somewhat disconcerting at first, today it’s considered a vital part of our corporate culture. Compensation visibility eases employees’ concerns about fair pay and, ultimately, benefits businesses by improving workplace culture. A transparent policy establishes trust between employees and employers while also discouraging turnover.
Transparency also ensures that all employees can feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work. The Rokt equity, diversity, and inclusion steering committee is a group of employees committed to improving company EDI in a tangible, measurable and ongoing manner to ensure that everyone is fully heard and fairly treated. To achieve this mission, several pillars of diversity have been identified to drive focused outcomes, including gender, LGBTQ+ status, race, culture and socio-economic background. These groups not only provide tangible actions for a more diverse workplace, but their presence promotes transparency and offers safe spaces for employees to be their authentic, best selves at work.
We believe that creating an environment where people feel comfortable enough to be open about their failures will ultimately lead to better outcomes and bring the business closer to full transparency. To help cultivate that environment, our employees gather each Friday for a "TGIF" celebration to discuss the week’s highs and lows over company-provided drinks and hors d’oeuvres. While this is a nice perk and promotes a feeling of community, it also fosters an environment of openness. At the weekly gathering, employees are encouraged, and many do, to share not only their successes but their failures too. When everyone is comfortable sharing ideas and failures, it sets a precedent that it’s no big deal, and that all employees can learn from each other’s successes and failures. TGIF is a fun gathering where employees enjoy toasting to a week’s end, but it also plays a vital role in company transparency.
Open doors and office hours
An open-door policy supports complete workplace transparency, communication and productivity by establishing strong communication channels between employees and their managers. Employees can take their concerns, questions or suggestions outside their own chain of command without fear of repercussions. These policies help further develop trust in a workplace, especially between employees and senior leaders.
Executives, including our CEO, host weekly office hours where all employees are welcome and encouraged to drop in. Additionally, there are multiple other channels for employees to ask questions, share ideas, and be heard. Employees are encouraged to submit questions (anonymously if they like) which the CEO answers openly and truthfully. It’s also a forum where ideas can be bounced freely. Many improvements and innovations have been born here, from designated meeting-free days of the week to improve employees’ focus, to implementing product updates that drive better results for our clients.
When implemented properly, workplace transparency creates trust between employers and employees. It helps improve morale, lower job-related stress, increase employee happiness and boost performance. From salaries to strategy, open communication promotes transparency which will ultimately improve employee experience and business performance. At Rokt, we strive to promote transparency in every way we can. As part of this, we recognize that we are never done learning and strive towards continuous improvement, with open communication every step of the way.