At CMIA, Office Culture Makes Work Feel Like . . . Not Work
A few weeks ago I attended a career fair at Temple University to recruit summer interns. One of the most commonly asked questions I received was, “What is Ceisler Media’s culture?”
It’s a great question. For many prospective employees, “culture” is no longer a filler interview question, but rather a main factor that attracts them to a workplace. Company culture is not an added bonus anymore, but instead, a building block to creating a high-functioning work environment.
Company culture has been labeled as a recent millennial ideal. But I’d argue the sentiment has always truly been there – it’s just been phrased differently. Growing up, I constantly heard that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. As a kid I thought that meant being an astronaut or a famous actor.
But today I see it more this way: If you enjoy what you do, believe in your company’s vision and look forward to coming to work each day, you are a) not working a day in your life, and, b) participating and benefitting from a positive organizational culture.
As I approach my one-year anniversary at Ceisler Media, I recall the cultural attributes that attracted me here. And I can also see for myself how our culture has changed and developed in the last year along with our growing firm.
One of the first things I tell people about Ceisler is we are an opinionated bunch full of personalities. Whether it’s assessing the best burger spot in the city, trying to convince COO Kate Wilhelm to try new foods, or debating which political candidate to support, we all have no problem taking a stance and hearing other sides of an opinion.
Traditionally, most people might avoid expressing opinions or challenging colleagues, but this environment actually helps us work better with eachother. When people feel safe expressing their opinions and hearing differing arguments, it opens the doors to creating a working environment where people can openly express ideas without fearing rejection or ridicule from peers.
I constantly find myself genuinely excited for my colleagues and that attitude is across the board. Whether it’s a group of us talking about going to a club to support Associate David Huppert’s improv comedy routine, hosting a book signing event for Senior Consultant Glen Macnow, or coming together to work on secretly nominating Senior Director Kirk Dorn for the Philadelphia Public Relations Association’s Hall of Fame, we genuinely support each other in our passions and interests outside the office. And that carries over to feeling valued and supported inside the office.
Like any company, we have our hierarchal structure. But it’s well balanced by our senior teams’s approachability and openness to new ideas. This is no different with our Principal Larry Ceisler. Larry has become an office legend for his breakfast meetings at Schlessingers Deli, one door down from our office on Locust Street, where you can talk to him about whatever you want as he intently listens while drinking iced tea with a pile of lemons. This is not something every organization has, and it is not limited to just current employees. Former Ceisler employees often come back for breakfast and visits – being part of the Ceisler family is not a fixed term but a door that stays open long after.
If you make people feel they are part of something, they will deliver every single time. In college I was taught the best way to create a better work environment is to get to know your coworkers outside of the office – and we do just that. Our September retreat is one of our most anticipated events because for all three of our offices (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg) get together for two days and catch up with fun activities like going to a Phillies game or playing office Jeopardy. And we do not limit these gatherings to just once a year. A few weeks ago a large group of us attended a happy hour and then went to “Pod Save America” host Dan Pfieffer’s book signing. These social meetings build connections within the team and create a more relaxed environment.
As I hit my one year at Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy I realize how much I have learned inside and outside the office. Many companies can claim good company culture, but with Ceisler what you see is what you get. Every single person brings something to the table beyond expertise and in the end it carries into something much bigger than us—a happy client.
Culture used to be seen as an added extra to a bigger moving operation, but society has taken the hint that it is an essential base to building a strong foundation. Unlike most change, cultural change does not require an extreme amount of effort and planning—it just takes one person to initiate it. Whether it’s group-ordering lunch or getting to know your coworkers on a personal level, you strengthen your foundation and make your workplace a step closer to becoming, well, a place where you never work a day in your life.
Abby Snopek is a Associate in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.