SKA: Changing The Corporate Work Environment
For SKA Management employees, coming to work is not much different from vacationing at a golf club with friends, except for the elbow grease to get the job done, rather than the handsy swing to get the hole-in-one.
CEO Sandeep Kumar Aggarwal, endeavors to give his corporate office environment the fun, happy ambiance of a vacation resort. That way, not only does camaraderie accomplish the mission but also pure enjoyment result in job satisfaction and energizing love of doing great work.
“We set out to discover the secrets of joy in work and to cultivate that happy work environment,” said Aggarwal, who infuses his high business standards with humanitarian values to foster a culture of appreciation for his employees. “The desire for meaningful work, belonging, social connection, ownership, and purpose are all powerful forces that combine to make our employees thrive here. Those key reasons fuel pride and connection to the workplace, that striving for personal excellence as well as being mission-driven.”
Aggarwal calls it “authentic happiness.” At work, that translates to employee social engagement, belief in the SKA mission, and the ability to find personal meaning in one’s work, all of which come together to fuel positive emotions. These emotions include optimism about the future of the company as well as one’s own future as a contributing member. Such intrinsic motivations dovetail nicely with Aggarwal’s own brand of entrepreneurship which is inseparable from his work in philanthropy.
It may seem impossible for the workplace to be one long happy hour every day. However, Aggarwal and his hiring team get ahead of the problem by assembling a team of naturally happy personalities who are pleasant and highly motivated. While many employers emphasize accomplishments and experience in their hiring decisions, the team here also considers potential employees’ positive demeanor and people-oriented approach. Would they laugh and make others around them do the same? Would they forge relationships, or slump away into a hiding place? Would they congratulate, or complain? Aggarwal understands that happy people make a happy workplace.
To keep the happiness alive at work, Aggarwal offers his staff diverse wellness services. From cold-press juicers in the kitchen where employees can concoct their own green drinks, to yoga and meditation sessions conducted in the office, SKA is constantly rethinking and renewing the ways in which the company helps its employees to look after their own overall health.
Notably unusual in his approach, Aggarwal recounts that “A few weeks ago, we had a monk come in, and we all laid out yoga mats and did meditation to relax,” said Aggarwal. Such mind-body work helps to enhance employees’ self-awareness which translates to better management of negative emotions, the reduction of stress, and more careful attention to working out bodily aches and pains associated with working in the office space.
While bodily health is of vital importance, mental health is just as much a priority here. “Focus and relaxation are the magical in-between that create flow at work. We always have soothing music in the background to put people in a more serene mood for working, it’s an antidote to hearing the drone of computers, sounds of typing, and photocopiers whirring away in the background, said Aggarwal.
Employees at SKA also know that they are solidly appreciated. One way this is done is through a monthly “crush-it call,” in which every employee calls out a particular coworker for “crushing it.” This is a chance for co-workers to show appreciation through recognition, via a call session that aims to boost individual and collective morale. This company-wide activity also facilitates SKA’s reflection on the previous month’s achievements so they can kick off the following month on an optimistic note.
Other fun group activities that affirm SKA’s community spirit include company outings, team games at holiday parties, as well as an annual “Weird Day” where employees dress up in weird costumes and wigs, much like an adult version of Halloween. Allowance for wacky self-expression encourages the creative, outside-the-box thinking essential to solving everyday challenging, while letting employees kick back and have a little fun with their teammates.
Lastly there is also “Bring Your Family to Work Day,” where employees let their children, spouses, parents, siblings, and even pets visit their workplace. This social event connects the personal and the professional, demystifying the “work persona” and making SKA a thoroughly family-friendly company. In the corporate setting, these domains are often kept compartmentalized, at best as tallies for taxation or insurance purposes. At SKA, however, the approach is more “in the family,” where success and happiness multiply by the simple act of sharing.