There’s a real buzz in the industry at the minute around workplace culture, how your employees feel when they are at work, and if anyone is getting the work-life balance correct. It’s a really interesting topic and one I want to explore here. Firstly, I think we need to answer a couple of questions, namely; ‘What is workplace culture?’ and ‘How do we know if we are getting the work-life balance correct?’

Let’s start at the beginning. What is workplace culture? 

Well, if you think about it literally it is the culture that exists within the place you work. But of course, it goes deeper than that. In my opinion, it actually spiders into every thread of a business and affects your output in a number of ways.

Workplace culture can be defined as the personality and character of your organisation. It’s what makes your business unique, the sum of its values, it’s traditions, it’s attitudes and it’s behaviours. It’s said that positive workplace culture attracts talent, increases performance, and has real impacts on happiness and satisfaction. So…. it’s a no-brainer, right? You’d think so, but you’d also be surprised at how many employers don’t value a workplace culture. They may see it as…. messing around if you’re having a laugh together. Or maybe you’re not working hard enough if you take 10 minutes out during a ‘non-break’ period of time. Or maybe you take an extra 20 minutes at lunch and you have to make that time back. This type of workplace probably does have a culture, it just might not be a positive one that employees want to shout about. The ideal culture is one that they live and breathe and naturally bring into every aspect of their day.

Why is a positive workplace culture important in a creative agency like ours?

A day in a creative agency isn’t just 9 to 5 anymore, not even Monday to Friday some weeks! So there’s got to be something that inspires and motivates people to want to be a real part of the business. It’s the leadership, strategic direction and influence of management that shape the culture of a business, and in a creative agency – that positive culture does more than just make people happy. In my experience, it brings out the best in people, which in turn brings out the best of the business.

It’s equally important for your clients to see that the studio they are working with are one big team with the same vision, the same goals, the same motivation, and the drive to be the best at what they do. Creativity, inspiration and collaboration within a team all foster greatness, encourage great ideas and evolve both personal and professional progression. What you learn today will help you perform better tomorrow – that sort of thing. The key to a successful creative studio is to keep moving, push forward and move the boundaries. Be courageous and believe in your work, your culture and results will naturally evolve with you.

Deloitte has undertaken some research into workplace culture and one of the main findings showed that there is a correlation between clearly articulated and lived culture, and strong business performance. So, there we are, the proof is in the pudding!

How does Single Malt create a positive workplace culture?

It’s not all about being airy fairy and fluffy though is it? When you strip it back, it’s about what you do, why and how you do it. It’s really that simple. And of course, a business’ total success is not just down to their culture, we’d be naive to think it was. But it’s a big part of it and one that doesn’t get anywhere near enough recognition.

Consider this, does a business need to know its own brand purpose and values to have a positive culture? For me, it absolutely does. At Single Malt, we have spent time as a team working out our brand purpose – what is our aim as a business? Why do we come here every day and do what we do? Well, to bring brands to life of course! Our values are the foundation of our culture and underpin everything we do. We are passionate, inspired, courageous, driven and creative. Our culture allows us to believe in those values, to be a team player but to also work on ourselves individually too. We are courageous in our decisions, working with clients who will challenge us, allow us to be the experts, and of course, allow us to take pride in bringing our values (as well as theirs) to the forefront.

We foster open and honest collaboration and communication. It’s absolutely vital to feel like you are valued, it’s not just enough to be happy at work. Good culture goes beyond that. A sense of pride and ownership, autonomy and leading skills are all important within our team and we encourage each other to take the lead and showcase our abilities as much as possible. You’ll all have heard of Simon Sinek – well in one of his books he says ‘A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.’ And I happen to agree!

All of this, when put together, means we value and trust each other, encourage each other, and embrace synergy. Our business will keep evolving, keep growing and changing, and our culture will too – but it will always be a bit of the glue that keeps us as one.

Does that mean we are getting the work-life balance right?

This is an interesting question and one where the answer might change from one day to another!

So what does that question even mean? The official definition of work-life balance is:


‘The division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities.’

Seems fairly simple right? But what’s the most important word in there? Some would say it’s ‘time’ – because it indicates you need to split it equally? For me it’s ‘focus’ – and that’s because of the simple fact that you can easily be away from work for hours, let’s say at a family meal for example. But are you focussing on the people you’re with, the conversations you’re having and the memories you’re making? Or are you thinking about that bit of work you didn’t quite finish, the deadline you have tomorrow or how you’re going to fit everything in? The definition says time AND focus, not one or the other.

This particular point is so wide-ranging that it’s worth a post to itself actually! So, that’s just what we’ll do! Check back soon to see how the whole team at Single Malt answer this question, and what it means to each of us to get the balance right.