corporate culture

Transforming your organization is a journey, not a destination. The idea of transformation is ambitious and looks pretty exciting on paper.  

You might have all the numbers in place. And yet, all that work will be for nothing if you neglect one fundamental element: your corporate culture. I recently talked about what it means to create a culture of transformation on Fast Company  

Transforming Alludo  

Over the past year, we have undergone a monumental transformation. We made a strategic acquisition and embraced a remote-first working environment. While we still have our legacy and more than 35 years of history, we became Alludo with a whole new name, visual identity and brand voice. 

While I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved, I also acknowledge that transformation inherently involves growing pains. It’s uncomfortable yet absolutely essential to drive the business forward. 

Culture is the linchpin for fostering corporate transformation. Let’s talk about how to get it right.   

The importance of culture  

I often say that “culture is what happens when you’re not in the room.” Authentic company culture can’t be micromanaged and forced into existence. It must represent the company’s objectives while infusing the core elements of the people working toward those objectives.  

As a leader, you won’t always be in the room. Your team needs to deeply understand and align with your culture. It needs to be in their DNA. They need to feel it through every interaction and decision—and live it when you’re not there.  

How do you make this happen? In short, reward what you value—and keep doing that, over and over.  

Ready to develop a culture of transformation? Here are five tips to get started:  

1. Create a safe space for questions 

I believe in creating a safe space for difficult questions. Anonymity is one of the most powerful tools you have to get at the root of what is really going on and bubbling up in your organization.    

Transitions are going to elicit uncertainty, and people should be able to get information without fear of repercussions. At our company, anonymous questions can be asked and answered at our Town Hall meetings. Any question is fair game, as long as it’s asked with respect and sincerity.  

We welcome anonymous questions, no matter how challenging. But it’s good to note that anonymous doesn’t mean it’s open season for snarkiness. With the expectation that questions and feedback should be constructive, you can create more time and space for authentic conversations and transparency.  

2. Create feedback loops so the best ideas can surface   

I’m a big believer in Kim Scott’s Radical Candor framework. It involves soliciting and delivering clear, direct and honest feedback—but delivering that feedback with care and empathy. The onus is on leaders to initiate this cultural shift.   

You need to start asking people for feedback and be willing to take the response. Kim recommends that leaders have a go-to question or line to initiate this feedback.   

Mine is “Please disagree with me. Tell me what I’m missing here.”   

3. Make it safe to fail   

True transformation can’t happen if everyone is too scared to challenge the status quo. As a leader, it’s your job to establish guardrails, and then encourage people to take risks within them. Critically, you must not only encourage risk-taking but reward it—even, and perhaps especially—if that calculated risk results in a failure. Lead by example.  

What you reward is one of the most powerful levers you can pull.   

4.  Embrace flexibility   

Focus on outcomes instead of inputs, and this means resisting the urge to micromanage where, when, or how people do their work.   

Flexibility doesn’t mean lowering your standards; rather, it allows you to keep your standards sky-high and challenge people to optimize their workflow to get there.  

A flexible workplace helps narrow the gap between what employees want in terms of a workplace structure and what many employers are willing to offer. It’s also a notable advantage for attracting and retaining talent.   

5. Consider investing in data   

You can’t develop a culture of transformation if you don’t know where you’ve been, where you are or where you’re going. That knowledge stems from data. During a transformation, consider the role data can play. 

It’s important to be as transparent about that data as is safe and feasible. It’s entirely possible to be both people-first and data-driven. Leveraging data, and making that data transparent, helps people feel comfortable knowing that they’re putting their transformation efforts in the right place.   

This, however, can feel like a battle at first. You’re paying dividends with no immediate return. The payoff comes over time as you gather enough data that raw information turns into intelligence. Just like you can’t have good decision-making without data; if your culture isn’t solid, your transformation may be rocky. 

When all these elements are in place, transformation carries your culture forward and reinvigorates it rather than dismantling it. Given the current macro environment, leaders can’t wait to adapt and transform. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. 

Read the full version of my article on Fast Company

In today’s diverse workforce, it’s crucial for businesses to create an inclusive environment that supports the needs of all employees. Neurodivergent individuals, who have unique neurological differences, bring valuable perspectives and talents to the table. To help neurodivergent employees thrive and contribute their best, businesses should prioritize their well-being and provide the necessary support.

In a recent global survey of nearly 1,000 neurodivergent employees, we uncovered what it takes to optimize their work experience. Here are five ways businesses can create an optimal work environment for neurodivergent employees to thrive:

  1. Give employees the freedom and flexibility to work from home.

    Neurodivergent individuals often have different sensory needs and may find it challenging to focus in a traditional office setting. By offering the option to work remotely, businesses can create a comfortable and productive work environment. Remote work eliminates potential distractions and allows neurodivergent employees to structure their workday in a way that best suits their needs.

  2. Encourage people to take regular breaks throughout their workday.

    Extended periods of focused work can be mentally and physically draining for neurodivergent individuals. Heck, it can be draining for anyone. Encouraging regular breaks not only promotes well-being but also enhances productivity. Breaks offer the opportunity to recharge, process information, and regulate sensory input. Employers can educate employees about the importance of breaks and create designated spaces (for those coming into an office) or relaxation areas where employees can unwind and rejuvenate.

  3. Implement company-wide mental health and/or wellness days.

    Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and it’s especially important to prioritize in the workplace. By implementing company-wide mental health and wellness days, businesses send a clear message of support to their neurodivergent employees. These dedicated days allow individuals to focus on self-care, engage in activities that promote mental well-being, and seek necessary support. Employers should actively encourage employees to utilize these days for a break from their routine and to prioritize self-care.

  4. Encourage employees to use all their allotted PTO, without repercussions.

    Neurodivergent employees may experience heightened stress or burnout due to the demands of their work and the challenges they face in navigating the neurotypical world. Encouraging the use of all allocated Paid Time Off (PTO) without any negative consequences fosters a culture that values work-life balance and self-care. Employers should communicate that taking time off is not only acceptable but also essential for maintaining optimal performance and well-being.

  5. Foster a culture of flexibility where people can work whenever they work best.

    Flexibility is key to creating an inclusive work environment for neurodivergent employees. Recognizing that individuals have different peak productivity times and work preferences allows employers to accommodate diverse needs. By providing flexible work schedules or options for personalized adjustments, businesses empower neurodivergent employees to work when they are most focused and productive, ultimately leading to better outcomes for both the individual and the organization. 

Looking for more neurodivergent resources? Check out 5 strengths neurodivergent employees bring to the workplace.

“The best idea ever.”

That’s Beata Stach’s succinct review of Alludo’s recent decision to add four wellness days to the existing PTO package. The first wellness day took place on Friday, February 17th. Employees are encouraged to spend the days in whatever way fuels their own sense of wellbeing.

Mountain yoga

Like many other Alludians, Beata shared her experience on an internal Teams chat, and was also kind enough to share more details with us. Beata spent the day skiing, or as she calls it, “mountain yoga.”

“It was a perfect day,” she says. “It felt guilt-free, and for the first time in months I disconnected from technology. The freedom of breathing the mountain air, uninterrupted by emails, texts, and phone calls, is priceless.”

Ottawa-based Beata not only took time for herself, but took advantage of the extra time to pay it forward for others. Beata volunteers with the local ski racing club on weekends, and she says that having a wellness day prior to the long weekend (it landed on President’s Day weekend) was a great way to add one more day to help out with the club. She was able to be part of the club’s downhill racecourse preparation team. “Having the wellness day aligned with the long weekend allowed for a mini-holiday, which was a brilliant and well-thought-out idea,” Beata says.

If there’s still snow on the ground for the next wellness day, Beata will “try to repeat this magnificent day again.”

Beata isn’t the only one who headed to the mountains for wellness day.

Climbing to the summit

Austin, Texas-based Jaime Becker took her wellness day to new heights, climbing to the highest point in Europe with her husband. With a little help from a cable car and a cogwheel train (and a lot of human power), Jaime and her husband summitted Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch. The extended weekend—and a lot of persistence—made this achievement possible. Jaime shared a beaming summit photo on the company’s Team chat.

Extended volunteer time

Wellness day was a truly global experience for Jaime, and for the global Alludo workforce. Malta-based Daniel Catania is already a big fan of Alludo’s dedicated volunteer days, and his version of wellness was to extend those volunteer days. He organized a party for his troop of Scouts, themed with the Carnival holiday that aligned with the wellness day.

“As a volunteer, I’m used to being on the go and never taking a break,” says Daniel. “Having a wellness day where I can focus on something that I enjoy doing was truly refreshing. It helped me to recharge and refocus my energy, which had a positive effect on my mental health and overall wellbeing.”

Prioritizing wellness

One thing we were curious about: since Alludo advocates for an overall flexible schedule, enabling employees to work when, where, and how it works best for them, was there a difference between knowing that they could technically go for a walk or get a massage any time they want, and knowing that they had a dedicated wellness day where they were supposed to take time off for wellness?

The answer was a resounding yes, there is a difference. “Knowing I had a wellness day coming up made a difference in my whole week, and it reminded me to take a break from my routine and prioritize self-care. When I’m busy, it’s easy to push self-care to the side, but having a dedicated wellness day made it a priority.”

Daniel acknowledges that volunteering with a Scout troop “might not seem like a typical relaxation activity,” but that for him, it is. He was also able to manage his workload leading up to the wellness day so that he could truly disconnect and be present with his volunteerism.

Daniel’s “atypical” version of wellness illustrates the whole point perfectly. Wellness looks different for everyone, and that’s why Alludo doesn’t dictate what people should do for their wellness days. We heard a huge range of stories, including volunteering, visiting family, indulging at a spa, spending time outdoors, or simply doing nothing—and loving every minute.

Beata says she shared the concept of wellness days with a few friends, and “they were all so impressed that we may have a few new CVs coming in soon!” As she says, “When others are being mandated to go back to the office and work extended hours, Alludo offers flexibility, balance, and celebration of freedom. I’m proud to be an Alludian.”