Brains on Fire is a creative agency and certified B Corporation that specializes in helping businesses grow through storytelling and meaningful human connection.
Because storytelling involves introspection, it’s only natural that the executive team puts a lot of focus on self-reflection.
In the process, Brains on Fire has found that the Great Place to Work® Trust Index™ survey is one of the most valuable tools they can use to understand what motivates their employees and how the company can continually improve their workplace experience.
Challenge - Benchmark Company Culture and Set a Course for the Future
2018 was the company’s first year taking the Trust Index™ survey and completing the Culture Brief™, which are the two steps necessary to apply for Great Place to Work Certification™.
Brandy Amidon, Co-President and CFO reflected that, “Pulling together the data for the Culture Brief is a bit like an annual employee review, but for the company itself. It was a great experience to closely examine our people demographics and share our people practices.”
While the company was actively working on betterment of the organizational culture at the time, their survey results showed that the company experience wasn’t yet benchmarking near the top along with the Best Small and Medium Workplaces™.
Brandy says, “Seeing our results stacked up in comparison to other companies of similar size was a bit disappointing. Our COO, Emily Townsend, said it best: ‘We got a ‘C’ on our first report card.’ But at our core, we knew we were an ‘A’ team and could do so much better.”
Solution – Take Action on the Trust Index Survey Results
The company got to work on the top areas for improvement identified in their survey results. They started by clarifying expectations and providing a clear view of where the company planned to go in the future. After collecting feedback and input, they held an all-team workshop on cultural norms, core values and company goals for the next three years.
Other growth areas the company focused on had to do with internal dynamics and how colleagues can always treat each other better. Brandy says, “We are a multigenerational workplace full of diverse perspectives and ingrained beliefs on how to best get work done. We pulled our team together to talk about each issue individually and worked to identify practical tactics we could employ.”
As an example, a meeting best practice includes leaving space for everyone to speak. Why?
Brandy explains, “This practice provides a voice to everyone, no matter their age, title or longevity with our company. Also, we’ve made consistent efforts to stop siloed conversations from happening. We have had hard conversations out in the open rather than behind closed doors with one or two parties or on side Slack channels. We are in this together, which means we have to trust each member of the team to respect differing opinions and thoughts and also speak up in real-time.”
In 2019, Brains on Fire increased its score in every category that Great Place to Work reports, taking itself from a self-described “C team” to a “B team.” Brandy says, “We still have our sights set on bringing home that A-team report card!”
“To do that, we practice our shared culture values and live out every decision with full transparency. We are focusing on modeling healthy debate, which starts at the top between our shareholders and leaders. We are working on adaptability and change.
"Change is constant, so is our resistance to it. We want to improve our nimbleness as a team by honing our processes and integrating pre- and post-mortems to help us learn from the past and anticipate things that help us do better work in the future.”