Manoverboard ranked in the top 5% of all B Corporations in the world for companies of our size in 2021 in the workers category, leading to an honour called Best for the World. I tend to overlook milestones, but, with over 4,000 B Corps in the world, this is an accomplishment that should be worth recognizing for two reasons.
First, it directly aligns with an area of interest and research that I have focused upon over the past few years — finding ways to create and sustain an exceptional design studio through creating a workplace that is collaborative, connected and compassionate.
Creative services firms often operate as fast-paced, bottom-line driven environments. They end up fostering burnout instead of excellence and deliver work that is imitative rather than illuminating.
Second, worker well-being is critical to the overall health and success of our communities and local economies. It goes far beyond the confines of the workplace —something companies small and large are learning, sometimes far too slowly. The sustainability of any community is directly tied to local business health, which includes workers but also their families and social commitments.
Our team is our foundation
The B Impact Assessment measures an organization’s work across five areas: community, customers, environment, governance and workers. Each of these categories is important to our work. For Manoverboard, it has always been employees and community first and foremost because I believe that these are the cornerstones for achieving excellence in all other areas; an exceptional team creates exceptional impact for its community, its customers, and in the local economy.
So, how did we achieve a Best for the World for Workers award? And why does it matter?
The B Impact Assessment explains that “The Workers impact area evaluates your company’s contribution to its employees’ financial, physical, professional, and social well-being through topics such as payment of a living wage, benefits, employee health and safety, professional development opportunities, and more.” It asks specific questions around the financial security of employees, their health, wellness and security and their engagement in the workplace.
Manoverboard’s score of 36.1 in the Workers category reflects many facets of our operation. Employees receive supplementary health and wellness benefits (over and above Canada’s universal healthcare), have at least 27 days off per year, can work flexible hours, receive paid or subsidized association memberships, and can easily access professional training and other learning opportunities.
But just as important as these tangible benefits, Manoverboard’s creative work stands upon the twin pillars of collaboration and consultation. We make nearly all hiring decisions as a team. We consult with one another about the tools we use to design and build visual ideas. Design concepts by any one designer are reviewed and even modified by two or even three others before a client reviews them. We create and implement our content and communications strategy in concert with all team members and our partners. The new brand and (this) website that we launched a few weeks ago was designed and built collaboratively with significant creative and technical contributions from everyone at the company. And I will more often than not ask for advice and guidance from the team around clients, new business, and strategic partnerships.
Manoverboard is now also a fully distributed workforce — not simply “remote.” Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, each of us moved to home offices, using online collaboration and communications tools to help our clients create the social and environmental impact that they seek. The team has expressed a strong preference to continue working remotely, at least for now, and I vigorously support their preference. It so happens that I prefer working from home also.
When your foundation is strong so is your creative work
Placing an outsized value on the team’s “financial, physical, professional, and social well-being” allows us to deliver groundbreaking work to clients. When you don’t have to worry about being able to pay the rent or mortgage, access health and wellness services, or take time off, it is simply easier to bring your full energy to creative projects. When you can invest in your professional development, you have more to offer clients and partners. And when you can truly contribute to the team, it underscores your own purpose, ideally making each project exponentially better.
The Best for the World award is a spur for me — not a milestone. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to know and work with every individual at Manoverboard: Karen Niedzwiecki, Dan Lamb, Nicky Wolfe and Jenica Woitowicz. They put purpose before personality each and every day.