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The perks of “no jerks”

We take this sign seriously at SPM.

We take this sign seriously at SPM.

Yet another article – this one on Ragan.com – about how to deal with the “office jerk” inspired to do something I don’t often do – post a comment.

Why? Because, while I agree with the interpersonal strategies the author put forth, I still think that the office jerk is a too-common workplace issue that has not been addressed where it should be – at the institutional level. Employees shouldn’t have to read umpteen books and articles about how to deal with the office jerk. The employer should solve the problem by stopping it before it starts. That’s the thinking behind our “No Jerks Policy.”

When I started SPM, I was coming off a tenure at two different agencies where bad behavior was tolerated and instilled by leadership. Leaders screamed, blamed for the bad and took credit for the good. Young employees learned that same bad behavior and unfortunately, often would mirror it. Jerks-in-training.

I had decided life was too short to work with jerks and the hostile environment they create, and so was determined to build a culture where people could be creative and productive, feel supported and generally enjoy their day regardless of all the usual things we PR folks go through – crises, last-minute projects, tight deadlines and more. By explicitly not tolerating jerks – it’s on our wall, our website and in our new business presentations – we’ve ended up not having to deal with them.

We read so many stories lauding companies that try to keep employees happy with a lot of perks – a stocked kitchen, happy hour, ping pong tables … the list goes on and on. But if there are still jerks in that stocked kitchen, how happy IS that hour? A culture that supports its employees’ sense of well-being with respectful treatment at all levels from leadership, clients and co-workers is the ultimate perk, in my opinion.