SeniorHomes.com celebrated its five-year anniversary this year. What was once a two-person startup company that met in coffeehouses in Seattle and Kirkland now has 20-plus employees in office space spanning two floors in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood. With this milestone came the realization that it was time to revisit our company values to determine whether they still reflect how our company operates.
While other companies may have a top-down approach to setting values, at SeniorHomes.com, it is an employee-driven approach. This approach is reflective of the attitude that is found in the startup world as opposed to well-established corporations or state agencies. The employees expect more from a company than just a paycheck; we expect a workplace where we truly want to spend every working day. Otherwise, what is the point of working here?
Every Monday morning for the past two months, our values team met for discussion. No management positions sat at the table, and each department had a representative. Working from a list of 100-plus value words that the entire company submitted, our task was to use the words as inspiration for our new value statements.
The brainstorming wasn’t difficult, grouping similar words together, but there were moments when our HR representative was forced to break the awkward silence because no one was sure of what to say next. And in keeping with the sense of laidback personalities around the table, no one felt the need to take charge or dominate the conversation. What the discussions revealed was agreement on the concepts but disagreement on the word choice.
Though the values are still pending final review by the team and management, what this process showed was the values adopted five years ago are still current. We are still dedicated to quality or embracing change, but we could benefit from refinement and additions. We still encourage balance between our work and personal life, but also, being a dog-friendly company is a value that everyone agreed should be called out!
When it came time to our core purpose statement, which is still in draft stage, an hour-and-a-half meeting came down to a 10-word statement of purpose. What these discussions showed was how to best summarize the dual-natured work we do: connecting seniors with a senior retirement community while improving the marketing of senior living providers.
Stay tuned as we unveil our new company values in a couple weeks.