The Lighthouse Approach to Building an Inspiring Culture

Workplace culture is often looked at as an intangible concept. Ask ten employees what a positive work culture means to them, and you might get ten different responses.

At the end of the day, a positive culture helps employees bring their best selves to work and make an impact on the business.

We are living through times dominated by buzzworthy phrases like the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. Employees are more likely to disengage from their job – or leave for an entirely new opportunity – if they are not inspired by the work they do and the people they work with.

Guided by our vision to be the most inspiring technology partner in the communities we serve, our team at Lighthouse has built a motivating work culture that uplifts each team member. This culture creates the environment necessary for everyone to reach their goals and do great work together.

Lighthouse and our team members follow three guiding core values:

  • Follow the Golden Rule. It’s a simple mantra, treat others the way you want to be treated. We keep this as a shorthand reminder in our work and in supporting our team.
  • Be a Lighthouse. This is our rallying quote that signifies how we want to show up in our community. Being a lighthouse is about helping people. A lighthouse guides travelers to their destination, and in our work, we are guiding professionals to business success through technology.
  • Light up those around you. We want everyone we work with to leave each interaction feeling inspired. Our team members try to bring positivity and joy to others, and they build friendly and trusting relationships with technology professionals and business decision makers.

Knowing that we want to embody these core values in our external interactions, we need to make sure the internal culture at Lighthouse supports this vision.

Employees at every business are going to have different motivations that inspire them, but these are five areas of emphasis that have helped us build an inspiring culture.

Creating a Sense of Place

In August of 2020, we moved into a new office space on the 28th floor of Seneca One in the heart of downtown Buffalo. We took a big leap moving in while development in the tower continued, but it was an inspired move to be part of the community of companies working in that space, including M&T Bank, TechBuffalo, and 43North.

For our internal team members in Seneca One, we pay for their parking and gym membership at the tower, provide snacks and drinks of their request in the office, and we have a game room to enjoy on breaks during the work day!

Each space in our office serves a different purpose, whether for collaboration or creativity, or for a place to recharge. See more photos of our office over on our blog! And if you’re on a virtual call with one of our team members? You’ll get to experience our office through our virtual backgrounds – you never which room you’ll see.

Having an inspiring space to call home makes a difference. Between weekly team meetings, happy hours, and community events inside Seneca One, our team enjoys these shared moments that bring us together in person. That sense of belonging is important to team members who have been with us for years, and it helps our newer employees see our culture in action.

Want to learn more about how our team has adapted to the times and built an inspiring space to work from? Check out this March 2024 feature on building a better office in The Buffalo News.

Avoiding Demotivation

Demotivation is difficult to prevent because there are multiple ways employees can lose motivation over time. Whether it’s caused by stress and fatigue from overworking or by boredom and a lack of engagement with the work, every employee reacts differently to their work environment. At Lighthouse, we hire people who are self-motivated, and the key is to find ways to maintain that motivation and remove factors that can affect it.

Borrowing from the Agile methodology, both our staffing and services teams hold 15-minute daily standups at the start of every day. These are an opportunity for team members to identify blockers in their work and collaborate on how to remove them, rather than allowing those blockers to grow and frustrate individuals. These standups are also a time to share recognition and praise across the team!

The benefits offered to employees are also an important avenue to help them avoid demotivation. Our internal team members all have the benefit of unlimited paid time off – but even beyond that, they are actively encouraged to take time off for vacation and pursuits outside of work. Most of our team is also eligible for performance-driven bonuses, rewarding their hard work that impacts our business.

Constructive Peer Pressure

Celebrating everyone’s wins together keeps team morale high and motivates our team members. Going one step further and showcasing how or whya certain success was achieved can inspire employees to reach for new heights in their own work.

Photo via Joshua Bessex / The Buffalo News

It’s important here to consider the idea of “culture fit” versus “culture add.” If every new hire is bringing similar ideas and similar mindsets to their work, how does that inspire new ideas and new growth? Challenging norms and bringing fresh and different ideas to the table in a respectful manner is key to constructive change.

With an internal team of 17 at Lighthouse, every individual plays a critical role in our success. That’s why we are so focused on collaboration, encouraging constructive peer pressure to help team members grow together. It can also be inspiring for individuals to know they’re never working alone on an island. Small teams that can effectively collaborate can drive big results!

Opening Doors

Making sure that employees have the resources to do their job effectively and efficiently helps them feel supported. That opens the door to inspired thinking that drives the business forward long-term. With a small team at Lighthouse, having the right tools and providing resources in a sensible way helps us work better together.

Ask the question: do you have all the resources needed to do your job well? At Lighthouse, our internal team members all have access to LinkedIn Learning for continued development. We also host bi-weekly learning meetings for our internal team which feature lessons guided either by team members or guest speakers. It promotes new ideas and inspires different ways of thinking about the work, and it also gives employees something to try together – helping them grow closer in the process.

Community Involvement

Man wearing a green shirt in front of a green background, holding up a plaque in honor of his support of WNY Deaf Access Services

Between professional and personal causes, every employee is going to find motivation and fulfillment from different sources. At Lighthouse, some team members enjoy giving back professionally by offering their help making job referrals, reviewing resumes, speaking at professional events, or volunteering at job fairs.

What makes Lighthouse unique is the company-wide vision to be the most inspiring technology partner in the communities we serve. Guided by our core values we are dedicated to support various causes, building up others is at the core of everything Lighthouse does.

Part of what makes our culture special at Lighthouse is our charitable contribution program, where the company makes a donation annually to a charity of each team member’s choosing – and those team members share their cause with the rest of the team as part of our bi-weekly learning meetings.

A few of our larger charitable partnerships include supporting M&T Bank on their community bike build, supporting the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and funding a scholarship through LaunchTech. Lighthouse team members also paid it forward to East Side residents after the tragic events of this spring, meeting community members and buying meals or groceries, and donating sports equipment for local children for the Buffalo Police Department’s summer community day.

Professionally, Lighthouse team members volunteer by participating in industry associations, speaking engagements, and assisting job seekers with resume advice, job search tips, and referrals.

Inspired Thinking Leads to an Inspiring Culture

From the shared physical and virtual locations we work in, to the way we lead teams and work collaboratively, to addressing each individual’s motivations and constructively supporting their work, every facet of Lighthouse’s inspirations contributes to this idea of an inspiring culture.

We hope some of the ideas here spark new, inspired ideas for you to bring to your team!

This article was originally published as part of the 52 Weeks of Leadership, in partnership with the University at Buffalo Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness (CLOE).

Watch the introduction video to the theme of inspiring culture here.

Click here to watch Lighthouse CEO Randy Harris’s conversation with Dr. Prasad Balkundi from the University at Buffalo.


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