These days, everyone wants better “culture.” It’s a buzzword but not for nothin’.

@picturingjuj

An inspiring work culture not only helps you maintain the best and brightest employees, but contributes to more successful teams and straight-up better quality work.

But listen up, execs: It’s about more than #ThirstyThursday office happy hours and a ping pong table (though we enjoy both). Even a LaCroix-stocked fridge isn’t the ticket to success. Here’s where a truly inspired — and valuable — work culture starts.

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Everlane

Part 1. Feel Good, Do Good

Let’s be real: One can only get so much confidence from matcha lattes and power poses.

In 2012, Google began an expansive study into workplace efficiency and building the perfect team. Called Project Aristotle, Google researchers looked to their most successful teams to better understand what made them so exceptional. But in considering many of the common factors — demographics, team members with complementary strengths, even team socializing, for example — Project Aristotle researchers were surprised to learn that the #1 most important piece of the puzzle was psychological safety — giving ‘safety first’ a whole new meaning.

Sensitivity to other team members, listening to one another, empathy, and feeling heard and respected all help create a foundation for success.

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@jessicavwalsh

In short, feeling safe makes you more creative.

When it comes to things like brainstorming, sharing ideas, making moon shots, or basically doing anything where you need to be brave, safety to share is ABSOLUTELY critical.

A few things we try in our studio:

  • Brainstorming solo and then giving everyone a chance to share… and thenbrainstorming again as a group.
  • Drop the ego or judgment when it comes to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ideas. In fact, bad ideas can be magic. Managers share their ‘lamest’ ideas right along with the strong ones… We’ve found that gems can often come from the silliest ideas, and it also shows that it’s better to share and try something than be precious about our ideas.
  • Bring in an outside voice once in awhile. Recently, we did a series of training sessions with Michael Townsend of Breathesync to encourage mindfulness and empathy within our team. We all had an amazing time, but one of the nicest things was hearing the answers that came from our team when asked questions you would rarely ask yourself. Hearing people’s perspectives on things was so refreshing and it happened in a space where everyone felt safe to share honestly. Awesome times a thousand.