This episode of the BSuite podcast hosted by Anne Richardson features Jill Felska from Want To Work There. Throughout her upbeat conversation with Anne, Jill reveals key strategies for a high functioning, happier, and more collaborative workplace where people want to come to work each day. Jill’s management-driven approach includes a focus on better leadership communication, revealing company expectations, discovering one another’s unique personality traits and exposing how they affect workplace culture in positive and negative ways.
Jill Felska’s Story
We start out on a somber note when Jill shares the difficult story of landing her first job out of college only to find herself the victim of sexual harassment early on. Shell-shocked and going through recovery after that incident eventually led her to launch her own business, a digital marketing agency, in her early twenties. It was there that Jill became enamored of the subject of workplace wellness. Flash forward 12 years later to today, we find her running a business solely focused on helping leaders figure this piece out.
The Origin of Want To Work There
As Jill says, there’s nothing like having been through a difficult experience to inspire you to try to make change as you go forward. Want To Work There is the result of that kind of spiritual journey. Running her company has put her on a life path that looks remarkably different from what it might have been had the harassment at her first job never happened.
Lines We Aren’t Willing To Cross as Managers
Managers have such an outsized impact on the experience that employees have within an organization yet we generally don’t give managers enough support. Jill has created a management training program that helps managers figure out how to cater their communication methods and read employee behaviors so that there is less confusion and ultimately fewer conflicts. She considers it like a user manual for managers and their teams to identify unique characteristics about each other and know how to use that information to communicate better.
This can take the form of “Here’s how I show up when I’m having a bad day.” Here’s what to look for if I am overly stressed.” “Here’s how I like to communicate.” “Here’s this quirky thing about me.” or “This is what my face looks like when I’m __________ (fill in the blanks: angry/pensive/confused, etc.)
The Ebb and Flow of Employee vs. Employer-Driven Culture
The days of working for one (or two) companies over the course of a single career are over. In the past, you went to work and didn’t think to question the office climate, how your boss treated you or what you were being asked to do day to day. What we are seeing today is an overwhelming number of work possibilities that have forced both employers and employees to shine a light on the workplace in ways we’ve never seen before. Workplaces can’t afford to neglect employees or fail to meet their team’s expectations. Business leaders are tasked with considering every possible facet of their employees’ needs and delivering support, if at all possible.
Jill challenges Anne to think about how she interacts and supports her own employees at Richardson Media Group and what type of office culture she wants to create. Whether the expectation is for everyone to come into the office three days a week or work remotely 100% of the time is a choice for leaders like Anne to make. The key is to be very intentional about how these kinds of expectations are shared, what information is made available, and how boundaries are set for the work that people are doing. Clear and forthcoming language between management and employees helps teams function more smoothly, regardless of whether they’re in person, hybrid, or remote.
Since the recording of this episode, we’ve moved away from using the language “BIA” to refer to the B Impact Assessment out of respect to the indigenous community. We will be referring to the set of qualifications developed by the B Lab for business certification as B Impact Assessment or Assessment going forward.