In recent months I’ve given a great deal of thought to what makes one workplace a better fit than another. What are those intangibles and how do we either evaluate them from the outside when we’re seeking to make changes or evaluate them to make changes? I’ll start with telling you a bit about where my office is located. Like many coaches and therapists I work in a shared office space. What’s a bit different for me is that I made the very conscious decision not to work with a majority of other therapists. What prompted that decision? I find that the synergy of other Thrivers is just plain fun to be around. The large office space I work in has just about one of everything: venture capitalists, insurance brokers, lawyers of all stripes, researchers, recruiters, internet gurus (who rarely come out of their offices!), event planners, CPAs, public relation folks and just recently, project managers. We had one guy who bought and sold airplanes – big, huge airplanes! Seriously, how frequently do you get to have such interesting people all in one place?

But what is ‘workplace culture’ and how do we know if we’re creating that for ourselves? There are plenty of articles out there to help you measure a variety of factors but the bottom line questions seems to be “Are your employees happy? Are you happy?” And here’s my question for you; As a Thriver are your values expressed in the environment you’re working in?

Let’s circle back for a moment to the question of what is ‘workplace culture.’ From HR Insights Blog comes this great definition: “Culture is the character and personality of your organization. It’s what makes your organization unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes.” This covers a great deal of territory! Some questions to ask yourself would be, “Is my workplace reflecting my values? Do my policies communicate my values?”, “Are there traditions which my colleagues find to be energizing, helpful and fun?” Yes, I said ‘fun.’ We’ll return to ‘fun’ shortly. In the meantime really take a look and a minute to see how your culture stacks up. If you’re saying that everyone has a voice but in the light of day the reality is that only your voice counts what are you communicating to others?

Now, why ‘fun’ and what does that have to do with anything? Fun because when you work in an environment where you can laugh, smile and chuckle over the small everyday fumbles, you want to be there. When you want to be someplace you’re going to pour your efforts into it and as a result work product is superior. As you might imagine with such a diverse group of people in the office the culture there is fun and you can hear laughter outside in the hallway. Definitely want to be there!

How else to tell or where do you need to do some work? Check out general communication. Do you feel comfortable talking about your weekend or bringing up a disagreement? Can your employees and colleagues disagree without being disagreeable or believing retaliation isn’t a natural consequence of that disagreement?

One of the largest and most highly respected companies out there is Google. What makes it so desirable to be there? They have amazing, amazing human resources policies. I don’t work there, have never been recruited by them but from everything I’ve read and heard about it’s a pretty sweet place to work. Here’s what Forbes said about Google in reference to their continued presence on the top 100 list of companies to work for, “The best employers are better because more business leaders are focused on workplace culture as a competitive tool. You will see that most of these firms are winners in the marketplace as well as in the workplace. Prime example: Google, which occupies the top spot for the sixth time in eight years. Google’s leaders explicitly attribute the company’s financial performance to its benevolent people practices.”

Don’t you want that to be you and your workplace? It can be! You may be a solo practitioner or even a Thriving Individual at home but that doesn’t mean you can’t craft your environment to be supportive of the culture you envision for yourself. I challenge you this month to put into place one ‘policy’ that reflects a value you’ve not yet expressed. Maybe that means you’ll make an effort to lighten up a bit or perhaps you’ll institute a policy to use recyclable K-Cups for your coffee maker – whatever you do I trust you’ll find just the perfect piece to move your culture closer to where you want it to be!