This is my third time as a CEO. With each company I lead, I've learned more about what creates a culture where amazing, high-performing creatives thrive. Little perks like free food, ping-pong tables and parties are fun. However, I've found the best way to motivate high-performers is really simple: Get back to the basics and treat them like adults.
The mission of my current company, Chatbooks, is to strengthen family relationships through our photo books. They're automatically created from your social media and smartphone photos, and are a great way for kids to re-live family memories.
Our mission flows through everything we do, including our company's family-first culture. For us, this means that whatever is important in your life outside of work is recognized, valued and supported.
My wife and I have seven kids. For us, time spent with family is coaching a Little League game on a Tuesday afternoon, running carpool pick-up and heading to school plays on any given day. Our seven kids have taught me that every individual is unique, and I've learned from them that everyone needs different incentives, support and motivation to succeed.
I've adapted this philosophy to running Chatbooks: Just like with kids, there's no one-size-fits all when it comes to managing employees. The best way to support a team at work is to look at someone's whole life, which can mean focusing on family.
Here are two reasons a family-first culture benefits all employees:
Family-first policies tell employees that we care about them. That might mean caring for an elderly relative, going to a favorite hot yoga class in the afternoon or taking a couple of weeks to travel to India.
As part of Chatbook's culture of flexibility, employees can work remotely and with flexible hours, as well as take unlimited vacation. And to further reinforce our family-first policy, we expanded our family leave policy to provide equal benefits to all staff, including four weeks of fully paid new parent leave for both men and women, whether they are full-time or part-time. (All women get an additional eight weeks of fully paid leave, for a total of 12 weeks.)
It's harder to be a great spouse, parent, friend, child, etc. if you're unhappy at work or burned out from long hours. We've all been there. Some companies use perks like granola bars and gym memberships to make employees "happy." However, you can't be truly happy if you're not satisfied with the most important parts of your life: your relationships with family, friends and community.
A family-first work culture helps increase happiness by giving people time to strengthen those relationships. It also helps by not adding stresses and strains to home life. For example, no fights about missing a family event or not making it to a lacrosse game. That cycle is self-reinforcing: When you're happier at home, you can come back to your work with increased energy, enthusiasm and productivity.
The results speak for themselves: Chatbooks has tripled revenue three years in a row and raised over $20 million.
It's surprisingly simple: Treat people the way you'd want to be treated, and they (and your company) will thrive.
Nate Quigley is the CEO and co-founder of Chatbooks, the app which helps parents create photo books.