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Proof in the Culture Pudding

May 28, 2021

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When considering a place to work, the term "culture" has become quite the buzzword.  At first glance, it might appear to be things like office beer on tap, ping pong tables or trendy open workstation setups. While these perks certainly do make for a "fun" place to work (and actually are things Milhaus has!), true company culture means something much bigger here. Our Culture Statement says:

"We stand as one team dedicated to transforming neighborhoods. Through transparency and collaboration, we empower our people to lead. Bikes are our allies, local food is our addiction and entrepreneurship inspires us. First impressions are set by our energy and passion, not suits and ties. We embrace the changing ideal of what people call home."

To #TeamMilhaus, culture is less about the shiny things and more about a feeling. It means authentically and actively living out our values. It means clearly defining and working towards our mission and vision as one team. And most importantly, it means always being willing to ask ourselves what we can do better and then doing our very best to act on it.

So how do we follow through? First, we actively seek individuals who represent the Milhaus values from the start of the hiring process. Our values aren't just standards we strive for, they're actions that should be visible in our day-to-day roles and interactions. 

Integrity. Execution. Innovation. Collaboration. 

Then, as a company with team members located all across the country, approaching culture from a "boots on the ground" perspective is important. We can state our mission, vision, values as a company all we want, but actively implementing them throughout multiple markets is a different story.

Enter the Milhaus Culture Club! 

Culture Club is a group of Milhaus employees who serve as brand and company culture ambassadors. Members volunteer time outside of regular work commitments and meet at the beginning of every month. The Culture Club's members -- like all our employees -- are located across the country and (purposely) represent a variety of the many roles Milhaus offers.

First and foremost, Culture Club members make a commitment to actively represent the Milhaus values and "practice what we preach". They keep the Milhaus values top of mind in every task they do. They participate in company-led initiatives and encourage and welcome fellow colleagues to participate as well. They go out of their way to meet fellow team members they may not work with every day. They encourage others and recognize them when they see success. They listen to feedback or areas for improvement with open minds. They take the challenging task of connecting team members over 10 different states (and counting) head-on. 

"Company culture has always been critical to me, especially in the face of employee retention," said Halie McCarter, Kansas City Development Associate and Culture Club member. "Most people would say that company culture is important to them; that they don't want to work in a place with heavy turnover or for a company that doesn't care. If you want these things, then you have to be a part of the solution in crafting and creating these environments."

"I have enjoyed getting to know everyone in different areas," said Torrie Woods, Gallerie Resident Services Manager in Kansas City and Culture Club member. "Usually, with management companies, you don't get to see or meet anyone other than co-workers in your area. With Culture Club, you get the opportunity to get to know and see new people -- even if it is virtual being located onsite."

"I love how Milhaus wants to get all of their communities involved with things that have meaning," said Yasmin Khan, Versol Property Manager in Florida and Culture Club member. "Bringing the company and their people so far apart together is not something you typically see. The Culture Club and what we do have far exceeded my expectations."

And of course… the Culture Club also leads the fun stuff! Together as a team, they coordinate at least one monthly company-wide activity or event. For example, in 2020, Culture Club implemented "Fun First Fridays" where teams at all properties and offices participated in a fun theme on the first Friday of the month or a quarterly all-company virtual trivia. Especially with the pandemic in the mix in 2020, these events became all the more important to fellow team members. 

Fun First "Hawaiian Shirt" Friday

"It has brought some light into the dark place much of this world has had to experience," said Yasmin Khan. "The feeling of 'one' shined through things like our trivia events or company-wide March Madness brackets as great ways to keep us together."

"We have continued to focus on planning events that can be done virtually, such as all quarterly company trivia, contests and more," said Paige Bell, Talent Acquisition Manager and Culture Club member. "These have strengthened our remote employees' connections to what working at Milhaus means and represents."

Halloween Costume Contest

"Milhaus has worked to seek more creative solutions so that employees can stay connected," said Halie McCarter. "Great examples would be our virtual happy hours and trivia events. The result has been a stronger sense of connection as we can meet and regularly collaborate, with 'virtual' being a more prevalent and accepted platform."

Mascot Milton's "Covid Relief Kit"

Not only does the Club plan events, but as a group, they have open and honest conversations about the current company culture and environment. 

"Of course all fun stuff we plan is awesome but for me, my greatest value in this group is the opportunity to just check in," said Madeline Moyer, Associate Brand Manager and Culture Club member. "While we might all technically be colleagues, we aren't robots. We have thoughts, feelings and lives outside of our roles. Or even about our roles. The opportunity to just talk with everyone, hear what's been going on across our markets or how everyone is feeling in a constructive, action-driven way is really special. In a work environment, this is really the core of what 'culture' means to me- valuing people as people and progress over perfection." 

"As a self-proclaimed culture nerd, I love the purpose of this group and the comradery it creates at our HQ and across markets," said Paige Bell. "It is an opportunity to connect, plan different engagement activities and naturally bring up topics that affect our workplace and culture. Getting to connect with team members I do not get to work with on a daily basis to focus on making Milhaus an even better place to work is really meaningful. It is a fun outlet, filled with laughs and more serious topics and it never fails to be my favorite meeting each month!"

Real, authentic culture doesn't come easy. It takes clearly defining what culture means at your company and then having loyal team members willing to follow through with that definition at the end of the day. We are so grateful to the #TeamMilhaus individuals who have stepped up to do just that.

Is company culture important to you? Come join our team

Meet just some of the Culture Club members below: 

Culture Club Members