Heidi Lemmetyinen // April 16 2019

The Digitalist Culture Is Changing – Here’s What You Should Know About It!

When you’re a company that’s selling its expertise, employees are your brand. And those employees are going to have a culture, whether you like it or not. The most successful companies tend to have purpose-driven cultures that promote engagement, diversity and personal growth and accountability.

Keeping all of this in mind, Digitalist started its culture transformation process a few months ago. The overarching goal was to find a common culture for seven different offices and mergers of five companies and shape it into one. The project is led by Stefanie Brandt-Tallqvist, Head of Employee Experience, who recently came to our San Francisco office to run a workshop on values.

You can’t outsource culture

“This is not an HR project or something that only belongs to the leadership,” Stefanie is quick to point out. “Company culture belongs to everyone; you can’t outsource it. I’m just facilitating the transformation!”

Digitalist has defined behaviors that support the creation of the desired culture. Values are the words that describe the culture. The company describes its culture with the following terms: empowered people, improving by learning, power of collaboration and customer success.

The behaviors believed to take Digitalist there are Initiate, Build, Simplify, Care, Explore and Deliver. But writing down the behaviors and values is not enough. Values are only valuable when an organization truly lives them.

“In times of doubt, whenever someone is unsure of the right decision to make and cannot find a colleague to offer advice – our values should enable employees to arrive at a clear path forward,” says Stefanie.

In recent months, Stefanie has been traveling around the world to meet with employees in different Digitalist studios and have discussions with them about a shared culture.

Changing the culture is not a quick fix

“The first step in our culture transformation is giving people a taste of the values. I’ve been running workshops on different sites, where we talk about what the values mean for our teams and how our behaviors could promote these values in our everyday working lives.”

According to Stefanie, this is just the start. “We have a very clear vision of what our company will look like when we’ve lived through the cultural transformation. Right now we’re still at an early phase, putting the basics in order, identifying potential challenges and figuring out what we need to change.”

Stefanie says a culture change is not a quick fix: “It typically takes 2-3 years to change company culture. It takes a lot of iteration and reminders.”

And what has the employee feedback been so far? Stefanie believes Digitalist employees are ready for a change. “People have been asking for more autonomy, a flat organization, and a mandate to make their own decisions. This is exactly what our values are about, so the reception has been very positive.”

That seemed to be the general consensus in the SF office as well. A few people pointed out that they wanted to work at Digitalist precisely because of the culture.

Impacting the bottom line

But what is the key reason for focusing this much on employee experience? Turns out it has to do with the bottom line.

“Transforming our culture and employee experience is the only way to achieve our strategic objectives as a company,” says Stefanie. “This will ensure Digitalist becomes even more successful. It will have a tremendous impact on the results of the company.”

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