Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Belonging Sessions 006: Sarah Durham of Big Duck

Big Duck is a Brooklyn agency that works exclusively with nonprofits to help raise money and increase visibility.

I sat down with principal Sarah Durham and posed three crucial questions about belonging: 



1. Good brands are bought, but great brands are joined. Why do you think your employees join yours?

Big Duck works exclusively with nonprofits, so the people who want to work here are usually do-gooders with a passion for mission-driven organizations and a love of good communications. Most of them never thought they could find a place where they could get paid to write, design, strategize, project manage (or whatever they do) for something they believe in and get paid to do it. Having a nice office space in an interesting neighborhood in Brooklyn helps too. We also find that sharing our values online (which we really use and live by) is also a big reason people get excited to come here. 

2. The great workplaces of the world have soul. What do you do to humanize your culture?

I want to feel good about the place I work and the people I work. And when I get up in the morning, I want my staff to feel that way too. We spend a ton of time together, and our relationships to each other and the space we share have a significant impact on our quality of life. I don’t usually push forced social events, but rather try to celebrate people’s individuality, and make room for it, so it happens fluidly and without hierarchy. We have Friday Snacks, after work drinks, push-ups at 5pm, Lunch Club and Pictionary. Humanizing the culture means making an environment where you care about people in dimensional ways. And if you really do care about them beyond the job, it’s easier to make decisions that help them thrive. 

3. Belonging is a basic human craving. How do you remind employees that they've found a home?   

If they need reminding, they probably aren’t really at home. The best employees have what your business needs to grow and thrive, but they also need something from it to grow and thrive personally. It should be a two-way street, a partnership, in which both parties benefit and know why they are there. When that’s the case, employees feel at home; they know they’re truly needed and what they’re getting personally, beyond a paycheck. When people stagnate, stop growing, or get complacent, it may be time to push them out of the nest. 

Thanks Sarah! Meet the Big Duck team here.