Let’s begin with a story: in a municipality on the outskirts of St. Louis about 3 years ago, an ambitious CEO took over a direct marketing company. He had dreams of creating a company culture that went unmatched throughout the land and inspired employees near and far. He believed in the idea of creating enjoyment and fulfillment at work and he began his mission by reading heaps of books to educate himself and his loyal subjects. From there, he implemented programs, encouraged associate-run committees and scheduled monthly activities to keep his people happy, healthy and engaged. And everybody lived happily ever after. The end.
Well, not exactly. However, most of the above tale is in fact true, and it’s something we are very proud of here at Gabriel Group. Although our company culture is relatively young and still growing and developing every day, we’ve already learned some important lessons along the way. Continue reading below to take a look at some of our favorite takeaways we’ve picked up so far throughout our journey.
- Insert buzzword here: Transparency
We know, we know…we’re sick of hearing it too. “Transparency” has become overused and beat to the ground when it comes to culture building, but as cliché as it has become, it’s still vital to keep in mind. Closed doors and office whispers are no way to promote trust and pride in an organization – so break the pattern and stop letting it happen. One way Gabriel Group combats this is by holding a weekly All Company Meeting every Monday morning in order to get everybody together in one place where we discuss financials, upcoming events and company news. Most importantly, leadership opens the floor to anyone who wants to contribute or ask questions. Creating this environment on a weekly basis has made a massive difference in associates feeling heard, valued and a part of the bigger conversations.
- Actually commit to your core values
There is a good chance that all of us have been a part of an organization at one point or another who spouts language around their core values – but at the end of the day, it seems like hypocrisy is missing from the lineup. And hey – nobody is perfect, including us. However, this major disconnect can lead to huge issues if not addressed properly, including turnover, resentment and potentially total business collapse. At Gabriel Group, our core values (Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart and Fun-Loving Attitude) are a part of daily conversations when it comes to our business practices, successes and especially our failures. Let your core values truly be your guiding path – even if it’s scary – and believe us, it is. Holding ourselves accountable is a daily struggle, but worth every second when we can look back and see the exact road that led us to where we are today.
- Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate
Come visit Gabriel Group for a day and you’re sure to hear at least one person say, “When’s the next party?” We take Fun-Loving Attitude seriously when it comes to commemorating accomplishments, holidays and especially each other. From Thirsty Thursdays to 12 Days of Christmas and monthly Associate Appreciation Luncheons, we make it a point to bring all of our associates together and take time to simply enjoy what we do every day. The result? Associates who celebrate you back. Whether it’s on Glassdoor or in our “What’s On Your Mind?” opinion box, we receive amazingly positive feedback about the efforts we put forth to make Gabriel Group a great place to work. And don’t forget the bonus of having fun at work every single week without fail!
- Differentiate between perks and culture
A big mistake companies can often make is focusing too much on flashy perks while ignoring the way employees feel day to day in their positions. Many times, updated office spaces, unlimited beverages and Ping Pong tables can shroud larger bottlenecks that are plaguing an organization’s culture. The fact of the matter is is that free beer doesn’t create open lines of communication between departments, just as good intention doesn’t automatically increase revenue. Be deliberate about what you offer to your people and make sure you’re not sending mixed messages between the extras you provide and the culture you are fostering. Some perks at GG include a one-month sabbatical after 6 years, one paid volunteer day a year and the ever-popular free popcorn in the breakroom (sometimes less really is more).
- Never underestimate the power of giving back
Research shows that more and more job seekers, particularly millennials, value prospective employers who make a conscious effort to give back to their community. Of any tips or tricks that you take away from this article, pay attention to this one. Gabriel Group participates in an internal Pay-It-Forward program where each year, associates vote on one local nonprofit organization to raise money for. Our goal has continued to increase to $15,000 for this year’s nominee, Missouri Veterans Endeavor. More than luncheons, activities or new initiatives, it’s safe to say Pay-It-Forward fundraisers are everyone’s favorite part of our culture at GG. The generosity we see from our associates when it comes to giving back to our partner organizations every single year continues to blow us away. Point blank: buy in to charitable giving and you can’t go wrong.
Our story here at Gabriel Group is not unique or uncommon – but what we do know is that it’s special to us. The last few years have been irreplaceable as we have found our footing and have continued to progress towards the culture we aspire to grow here at GG. The biggest lesson we can share with you is short and sweet – enjoy the ride. There will be amazing ups and there will be disheartening downs, but if your heart is in the right place to create a place where everyone is excited and proud to be, your happily ever after might not be as far off as you might think.
To learn more about GG’s culture, call us at (314) 743-5700 and ask for Anna!
Gabriel Group is honored to name our next Pay-It-Forward recipient as Missouri Veterans Endeavor (MOVE-STL).
Missouri Veterans Endeavor is a nonprofit organization that provides long-term supportive housing and comprehensive services to veterans and their family members. MOVE-STL was established in 2012 and currently houses 30 veterans, 16 dependents and 9 children while providing a wide range of services including case management, employment assistance, job training, sobriety support and permanent housing.
Since 2013, Gabriel Group has chosen a St. Louis-area charity for our Pay-It-Forward efforts in order to make a bigger impact within our immediate community. Associates participate in many different fundraising opportunities each month with a goal of raising a total of $10,000 for our nominated group by the end of the calendar year. At the beginning of the following year, we then present a check to our partner organization in honor of our clients in lieu of a traditional Christmas gift. 2017 will kick off with a bang as associates get ready to vie for a festive Mardi Gras raffle basket and an upcoming opportunity to participate in Bring Your Dog to Work Week.
Over the past 10 years, Gabriel Group has funded a spring water aqueduct in the Dominican Republic to help provide children with safe drinking water; built four double-family homes for families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti; funded a new classroom at an early childhood education center in Zambia; provided food and clothing to an orphanage in Mozambique; supported relief efforts following the tornado in Joplin; helped local St. Louis children suffering from abuse or neglect; partnered with an organization close to associates’ hearts after losing one of our own to ovarian cancer; and fought homelessness and hunger in the St. Louis area.
As our charitable giving efforts have continued to grow tremendously over the years, we are happy to report that our associates are refreshed, motivated and ready to make 2017 our biggest year yet with MOVE-STL as we focus on our latest mission to support local veterans. To keep tabs on everything we’re doing to assist this inspiring charity, follow us on Facebook as we inch closer and closer to our goal every day!
Pictured above: Melanie Ortmeyer and Dave Hawkins of Gabriel Group; Darie Gordy, Shelter Case Manager, and Jacki MacIntosh, Executive Director, of Loaves and Fishes for St. Louis; and Arthur Kerckhoff of Gabriel Group
For the ninth year in a row, Gabriel Group has chosen to donate funds to a charity in lieu of giving a traditional Christmas gift to clients. In 2016, associates selected the group Loaves and Fishes for St. Louis as the recipient of our Pay-It-Forward initiative. Loaves and Fishes is a nonprofit organization who serves those who have been struck by economic hardships, providing them with food, shelter and support to help them realize self-sufficiency.
Fundraising occurs throughout the year and is supported by a variety of events and activities. Ideas for 2016 included Paint and Sip nights; washers, pool and table tennis tournaments; and multiple potluck luncheons. Through the hard work of our Pay-It-Forward Committee and the generosity of the entire Gabriel Group family, we were proud to present a check for $15,000 to our friends at Loaves and Fishes on January 23, 2017 – beating our goal of $10,000 by 50%.
To date, Gabriel Group has funded a spring water aqueduct in the Dominican Republic to help provide children with safe drinking water; built four double-family homes for families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti; funded a new classroom at an early childhood education center in Zambia; provided food and clothing to an orphanage in Mozambique; supported relief efforts following the tornado in Joplin; helped local St. Louis children suffering from abuse or neglect and partnered with an organization close to associates’ hearts after losing one of our own to ovarian cancer.
We look forward to continuing on our journey to help those in need as we shift our focus in 2017. Make sure to stay posted via our Facebook page to be the first to know what cause we choose next!