Creating an environment where people love coming into work is a goal for many organisations and is no easy feat. It takes dedication and commitment, but most importantly, a willingness to embrace transparency and sometimes vulnerability. It’s estimated that people will spend one-third of their lifetime at work, so being happy in that environment will naturally impact your personal life too.
After recently being Great Place to Work Certified®, and then going on to be in the Top 5 for 2021 Best WorkplacesTM in Australia in the Micro Category, the only tech finalist to make this coveted list, Atarix seems to be paving the way for how to successfully create a happier workplace. We sat down with founders Tony Tran and Roger Kari to uncover:
- what it means to live and breathe your company values
- how embracing individuality encourages both diversity and inclusivity
- why happy employees = happy clients
- what they have learnt so far on their leadership journey
The journey – how it all began
Has being a great place to work evolved over time, or was that always a core foundation?
Roger: I was always wanting to build a great workplace. I wanted a workplace where people wanted to work for Atarix, so that Atarix is going to be better. Before Tony and I started this one resonating theme was that we wanted to always give back, to the community, and also to the people that have helped support us to build Atarix to what it can become. People have put their faith in us, and you want to be able to reward them.
Tony: We wanted to support everybody that supported us along the way. How we got there wasn’t clear in the beginning, so we initially thought we’d just do great work for our clients, which meant having the right individuals that technically know their stuff. But early on we realised that we can’t just hire people based on their technical merit or experience, we needed people that would gel with us from a cultural or values perspective too. And it changed the way we recruited; each person we’ve hired has helped to shape and build the company and contribute – they bring their own flavour to Atarix.
What makes Atarix unique?
What makes working at Atarix great?
Roger: We allow everyone to be who they truly are. Some of our staff have spoken about how they just didn’t feel comfortable in previous workplaces. One of the things that we look for when we bring on a new person, is we really want that person to inject themselves into Atarix. Like bring something of you into this company because that’s how we’re inclusive, that’s how we’re going to build this team dynamic.
Tony: I’m with Rog. It’s the people. I’m a big team sports fan, I love sports like tennis where there’s individual merit but it’s so much more rewarding to see a team overachieve, and it’s based on the commitment and what everyone brings. With Atarix, that’s what I love. They’re not just a staff member, it’s more than that. I care about them, and they care about each other. You spend so much time at work, it’s got to be enjoyable.
What unique or special things has your company done?
Tony: Covid has been difficult. To kickstart 2021, we organised an offsite and booked out a beautiful place in the Blue Mountains. We made a conscious effort to get together, unwind, have fun, do something a little bit different and get everyone on the same page with where we’re going. It was also an opportunity to get to know each other better, especially because we had a few new starters on the team.
Roger: The offsite really brought everyone together, being able to communicate our vision and goals to the team. We also regularly do things like karaoke nights, dinners out together, pizzas and beers in the office.
Tony: We want to have that space to hang out and not talk about work. Have a beer, chat, play games… or show Rog how to play Fifa.
Roger (laughs): I’m so good at Fifa!
Tony: Having a laugh is the most important thing during times like these. We work with good human beings who want to have fun and enjoy what we’re here to do. Work is not the be-all and end-all. And if someone has an idea, bring it up. It’s not only about what Tony and Roger want.
Roger: Every Friday at our Week-in-Review meetings we check in with staff to gauge how they’re feeling overall. Everyone recognises each other for the great work they do on a project or for being an awesome human being. Employee recognition goes to the heart and soul of Atarix and building this culture. It’s key to our growth and survival and I don’t know of many companies that do this.
Tony: Exactly. It’s celebrating the values. When I’ve worked in large companies you talk about your values once or twice a year during performance appraisals. Whereas if you make it a lot more organic on a week-to-week basis, we’re calling out those wins so that it’s recognised. We’re not leaving it until the 6-month or 12-month mark to recognise all the good stuff that everyone does. That’s made a difference.
What we’ve learnt
How does it feel to be on the 2021 Australia’s Best Workplaces list?
Tony: It’s humbling to be recognised in the top 5. It means we’ve got an awesome team to help us get here, we’ve done some things right along the way and we’re getting closer to living and breathing our mission and our values – giving people their lives back to allow you to spend time on the relationships that matter, outside of work. I think we’re getting closer to that so we’re moving in the right direction.
Roger: It goes back to wanting this company to be renowned for the work that we do, but also to be a place that people want to work for. It’s a benchmark that helps us gauge how the team feel about working at Atarix. Work is just one part of a person’s life, it’s not everything, and this result means we are contributing to everyone feeling happier at work.
What does it mean to be Great Place to Work Certified?
Tony: It’s about getting that really good feedback on how well we’re doing and knowing the areas we can improve on. We don’t want to ever go backwards. Happier staff help to deliver awesome work for our clients, and those clients are going to see the end-product of a good workplace. Our commitment from day one has always been to deliver awesome for our customers, and if you build a good workplace that will come as a result.
Roger: To be certified by an independent third-party with global standards, who can tell us if we’re going in the right direction? That’s what’s valuable. When it comes to recruiting great talent, every single owner, director, or CEO of a company will say ‘we’ve got a great place to work.’ But having that badge and certification means it’s not just lip service.
Making a difference
How is your company caring for employees or the community?
Tony: Prioritising mental health is a big thing. You don’t have to pretend that everything is OK. It’s about letting people know we’ll get through this together. At the end of the day, work is all manageable and working too hard for too long, you’ll start to feel it. Sometimes it’s putting little things in place, like ‘Hey, let’s get out in the sun. Go for walks.’ I’m vocal about it so that the team know it’s OK to have your lunch, go for your breaks, do your thing.
On the community side, we want to make a big impact. It’s not just about the monetary side of things, we’ve contributed and donated in the past. It’s one way, but on the cards is giving up our time, expertise, and services so that we can help a charity to be more efficient at what they do.
What advice can you give to other leaders?
Roger: Establishing your values and culture and making sure people are aligned to that. And it’s about employee recognition. Your company is nothing without the people who work for the company – regardless of the person’s role in the organisation. Recognition builds morale in your company and makes it a happier place for people to come and work.
Tony: We live and breathe our values. Three of the values that really help us to be transparent is growth, integrity, and heart. We don’t always know the answers, but we’ll be direct and transparent with the team. We’re growing as leaders as well, so when I come out of a meeting, I’ll ask the team, ‘How did I go? What can I do better to support you?’ Feedback helps us to improve. There’s no blame culture at Atarix, I think that’s important. We get better together. And heart, that’s just about caring. My job at Atarix is to build you up to be the best employee that you can be.
Carving out your company’s unique values is the culture cornerstone that a company of any size must be built around. Everything will be guided by this, from who and how you recruit and reward, to making sure everyone is gaining traction towards the same Vision. Appreciating and placing value on each employees’ unique flavour that they bring to the company, and prioritising mental wellness, will help to create an inclusive culture that cultivates employee happiness.
Have questions on how to create seamless collaboration within your organisation, to give your employees the best experience possible? Contact us here at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 ATARIX for a complimentary WFH best practices assessment with our Senior Cloud experts.