Austin Veith on Creating a Company Culture to Be Proud Of
More attention than ever has been placed on a company’s ability to create a positive and productive company culture. Especially as online review sites allow current and former employees to anonymously and honestly assess a company’s culture and the experience of working there, the executive staff is under pressure to step in and make changes to improve their reputations. But for First Light founder Austin Veith, company culture has always been a priority.
After starting and operating multiple companies over the past 20+ years, and relocating from Denver to New York City and back, Austin Veith has had his share of work experiences – some pleasant, others downright disastrous. He has worked through COVID interrupting daily operations and moving to a distributed workforce with much of his staff working from home. And now that he’s happily settled, Veith makes sure that every personality he brings onto the team, positively impacts morale and overall culture.
As Austin Veith acknowledges, hiring the right people is the first step to creating a vibrant, exciting place to work. Even one or two bad attitudes on a small staff can bring down the motivation of the whole team. Once you’ve built a team of individuals that enjoy working together, it makes it much easier to focus on the needs of the customer.
“We focus the company’s culture around the customer,” Austin Veith says. “Whenever possible, we hire team members that could also be viewed as part of our target demographic. Having personal experience in dealing with the same problem our customers face, makes it easier for our team members to identify ways for us to improve the solution we offer.”
With a team full of ideal customers, prioritizing clients and the quality of their products comes naturally. But of course, that’s not enough to keep a team happy in the long term; management also has to consider what kind of work environment makes each individual happy. One element of this is to keep employees engaged in the work while still feeling challenged, but another is allowing your staff to create a meaningful work/life balance.
While COVID forced the issue of working from home, a practice which Veith says he would have likely never experimented with of his own accord, he has found that the impact of this change on staff quality of life was extremely beneficial:
“As a company, we saw that the gains far outweighed the drawbacks when it comes to a distributed workforce. The time/cost savings for our employees have resulted in increased productivity overall. Just eliminating the time spent commuting to an office, seems to have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the quality of life for our staff on a daily basis.