‘Good culture’ is something of cliché in advertising, often mocked for amounting to little more than colourful beanbags, impressive office décor and Friday drinks. But Angela Spain, the head of brand experience at FCB Media, argues that her understanding of culture demands more than a few freebies and aesthetic design.
“Culture means different things to different people,” she says. “For us, we spend a lot of time focusing on the climate and how that relates to culture. And we make it as important as the other key parts of business such as client relationships, the work we produce, commercial partnerships, and future-proofing the business.”
Spain says there are numerous factors that impact the climate of an agency, but prioritises six specific areas when it comes to ensuring the culture remains positive: 1. Physical working environment and spaces 2. The mood of the floor: are people feeling good, bad or indifferent about their jobs? Do we know? Do we ask? Do we take action? Do they feel the impact of that action? 3. The opportunity to create and have fun
– people spend a lot of time together at work, so we make sure there is fun to be had both inside and outside of work
4. Inclusion: do we allow people to be themselves ( and make an effort to do so), do we create an environment where they feel comfortable to speak up and have a voice on big or small issues, which allows a feeling of trust?
5. Clarity of purpose: does our team know what is expected, what they’re being asked to do, do they own that and are they empowered with support to achieve that? 6. Recovery: every team has drops in positive culture or climate and how you recognise that and recover from it is also crucial.
To Spain, ‘good culture’ isn’t something the executives can simply hand down to staff. It’s earned with enormous effort from everyone at the agency. And it can only be achieved when everyone across the business buys into it.