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Culture in a Crisis

When you’re in a crisis, “your people” are the ones who make all the difference.

They are the ones who lift you, inspire you, keep you laughing, help you succeed, and never stop believing in you. How much easier would it be to go to work and keep routine in the middle of your crisis – personal or widespread – if some of “your people”, were your co-workers?

I have been with Jones & DeMille Engineering and their sister company, ourlinQ, for almost two years now and I often get asked, “do you like your job?” And I always respond, “I LOVE my job! I don’t ever want to work anywhere else again! The people and the culture make me want to be at work; I have a family there!

If it were not for the culture at Jones & DeMille, there is no way I could have made it through the last few years.

When I interviewed for this job, it was for a company I knew nothing about and with people I knew nothing of. When I arrived for the interview, it was comfortable, and I felt welcome and accepted. It was not a “formal” interview, but rather, they just took some time to get to know me. I had recently returned from an 18-month church service mission and was adjusting back to a normal routine and had just moved to a new city where I didn’t know many people.

I was hired in the first interview. I started the very next day and was pleased with the humor, joy, and friendliness in the office. As time went on, I noticed how real everyone was – no one tried to be something they were not and that alone made it easy to make friends in the office. These friends grew to become my people. I looked and still look forward to going to work every morning!

It makes a HUGE difference when you work for people you know genuinely care about you as a person, whether they are the CEO, the accounting manager, or an in-office co-worker.

In our office, we have frequent office outings and activities – lunches to celebrate birthdays and movie nights at a co-worker’s home just for fun!

During the work week, co-worker’s family members feel welcome enough to drop by to say hello and it’s always fun to see how they are doing or hear the kids excited to see their dad! It brightens the office in a way that is hard to explain.

But these daily things barely scratch the surface of reasons I love the culture where I work.

Last year, I faced a rather difficult trial. I was hurt by a stranger and it was a battle I never thought I would have to face. I stayed up all night and when early morning rolled around, I sent a message to my office manager letting him know I would not be coming in that day. I didn’t provide much detail. Although he was understanding, because that’s just his character, I felt guilty and didn’t want him to think I was playing hooky.

I emailed an explanation to a supervisor I had at the time, who called my office manager to explain. 30 minutes later he was at my door with his wife to comfort me in a time I needed it most.

The love, comfort, and support did not stop there. Over the next several weeks and then months, I received weekly texts, calls and visits from our CEO, my supervisor, my office manager, and my regional manager. They gave me some time off work to heal from what I had been through and never stopped checking in to make sure I was okay.

Eventually, I shared with my other co-workers in the local office what I had been dealing with. And I also had to thank them for making work the easiest place for me to be! They made the office a joyful, humorous, accepting and friendly place to be every day. Despite what I was struggling with, I could go to work each day, keep my routine, and accomplish what I needed to without falling apart. They became my people, not because I was around them daily, but because of their character and their choice to make work a place we all enjoy being.

Though my personal crisis was shortly followed by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and we are all working from home, we still make time to interact via video calls, group chats, phone calls, texts, and by sending the most ridiculous GIF’s. All these things keep our “office” culture alive, even though we are all in our own homes. Each of us eagerly anticipate being back at the office together and to see our work family in person again!

Good culture at your firm can change not only an employee’s time at work for the better, but it can send them home in a good mood, which can improve family/home life. Good culture can allow employees to stay motivated, thrive in their position, and potentially expand their skills to grow within the company. Good culture turns jobs into careers and small businesses into large companies!

Not only is this culture exemplified by the people here, it is also encouraged by the executive team. Though extremely appreciated and important, caring and empathy haven’t been the only factors in shaping this environment; the executive team has also set up tangible systems, processes, and tools to encourage and build this culture. I have seen it in action, and it works. They are now are making some of these tools (like ourlinQ) available outside of Jones & DeMille so that other companies can reap the benefits of a culture like this.

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