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8 Ways The Motley Fool Does Workplace Well-Being Right: Encouraging Employees to Explore

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 4, 2017 at 4:55PM

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The Motley Fool is more than just a great source of financial advice; it’s also a great place to work. This week, we share some of the techniques that keep landing it superlative awards about the health and happiness of its people.

On this Rule Breakers podcast segment, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner brings back a pair of his favorite guest Fools -- Chief Learning Officer Kara Chambers and Chief People Officer Lee Burbage -- to talk about a subject near and dear to his heart: How to get your corporate culture right. They speak from a place of authority, given that the company has been routinely recognized as one of the country's best places to work on a number of fronts.

So this week, Kara and Lee call out eight of the items in the Fool's cultural toolbox. One key for helping people grow in their careers is that they have plenty of opportunities to choose to get involved with projects not connected to their main jobs. And that helps in a company where the career path is not the standard.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Aug. 2, 2017.

Lee Burbage: No. 4. We have a project culture here, and I'm calling this one "exploring." We have this theory that at The Motley Fool it takes about six months to figure out your job, and then you start to have some bandwidth. You're starting to get more and more efficient in how you're able to do your job, and then you have some extra time. And so we're super--curious how you use that extra time, and we encourage you -- unlike maybe any company I've seen -- to try new things. Go investigate a new area of the business.

For instance, over the last few weeks Kara and I have been super-involved with a volunteer team of Fools that are investigating a potential new business line for our company, and we just need to do a little research work, so the call was put out. "Hey, anybody interested in helping out?" Maybe six Fools raised their hand and said they'd love to help out. So they're dedicating a few hours a week that they have free toward this new venture.

And what happens over time is we're actually learning as a business if they're good in that area. And they're learning, as an individual, if that might be an area that they'd like to do even more. Sometimes people walk away and they'll be like, "Ooh, boy. That was awful. I don't want to do that again." Or we, as a business, might say, "Ooh, you're actually not very good at that." Or even better, we're like, "Hey, you're great! You should do more of that," and it builds into more career development.

So just getting people to use their extra bandwidth to get out and about the business and reach beyond what their normal day-to-day work may be.

David Gardner: I'm curious, Lee. You started that by saying we're a project culture. What does that mean, exactly?

Burbage: I don't believe that we have a traditional hierarchy here. A traditional career ladder. People work here for many years and do lots of different things. Our favorite people are ones that are working on maybe six or seven different projects at one time. They may be diverse projects. Some may be leading. Some might be followers. Some might be just playing all kinds of different roles on a team.

So you're getting your enjoyment here by working with people that you love on really challenging things that are driving toward our purpose, and that's how you're managing your career. It's moving from project to project, trying new things, getting involved in things that you're passionate about.

Gardner: So it really is pretty subversive if you're thinking about a traditional org chart, and a title on your business card, and once I'm junior this, my next goal would be senior this, and I'll get that in three years.

And there is a downside to not being that way, because sometimes we'll lose people here at the Fool who want that career path or a clearer sense of what's next, and sometimes they leave the Fool after a few years to go back to maybe a more traditional workplace where they can find that. So what we're describing here -- I don't know how idiosyncratic or not it is -- it's definitely how we roll, and we bet we're probably not the only organization that rolls that way.

Burbage: Yes. I mean, I was not the first to say this.

Gardner: The Greeks were. I don't even know what you're about to say, but it's very obvious, I think, that Socrates said this. Go ahead!

Burbage: Socrates once said every company has a culture, but not every culture is right for everyone. So we have a pretty defined and unique culture that fits and is cool for a lot of people, but not for everybody. We're not a great resume builder or LinkedIn profile-builder company, although when people leave here, they do find some pretty great jobs, but it's nontraditional, sure.

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