A job takes up an enormous amount of our adult lives. Life is simply too short to be working with people you do not like. How many people have quit a job because of an unpleasant boss or colleague?
In our rapidly changing digital world, a company has to be agile to succeed. Companies have to be ruled by the best ideas and data, not hierarchy and politics. In a negative workplace, managers end up filling a lot of their headspace with people problems that distract them from their work. And it makes companies sluggish.
We’ve seen many companies suffer from toxic work cultures that have pushed talent out of their company. Because even the decision by management to do nothing is still a decision to take no action. We’ve made mistakes like hiring the wrong people or keeping harmful employees for way too long. These experiences have helped shape our HR practices for the better and we’ve learned to identify the culture fit that is needed for prospective employees here.
Today, we have a very robust HR recruitment process, which includes rounds of psychometric testing such as personality and cognitive tests. Our culture at TheSmartLocal is not for everyone. These are the values that we strive to uphold, so we can continue to provide a safe and enjoyable office environment for our staff.
- Openness & Collaboration – Our company has to be competitive with the outside world, but within our walls, we do not believe in internal competition and design our policies accordingly. We value open-sharing, collaborating and talking about issues maturely. Honest conflict is better than dishonest harmony. It is okay to talk about issues with the people involved, but it is not okay to spread gossip and campaign against people – which naturally leads to politics and groups forming against each other. Please leave the drama in Mean Girls. We can’t work with those who engage in bad mouthing/gossiping or those that use office politics as a tool for career advancement.
- Inclusivity– It’s never about your gender, age, race or sexual orientation. We believe in a diversified workplace with inclusivity. This applies to empathy and support for mental health, assisting parents with childcare needs and just being warm to coworkers as a default. You are now among friends. That being said, equal opportunity doesn’t mean equal results. Merit is accorded to those who have earned it and that’s what determines progression here.
- Empathy – A certain level of maturity is needed in any workplace. Those who can only see things from their perspective will not fit in at TSL. We have had staff demand early raises during the COVID period, even though they were aware job security in the company was uncertain. “I know but I still want my raise”. We asked them to leave. We then did a big raise/increment exercise company-wide when the economic outlook was more certain, 6 months later.
- High Standards– TSL is full of talented people who love what they do. We’re not just a random company, we’re one of the leader companies in SEA and there are high standards we required. Not everyone may be skilled enough to join us (yet). We have a habit of excellence that flows through our work, interactions and the way we treat people. Our staff take a lot of pride in what they do and you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb if you’re an unmotivated clock-watcher. You also wouldn’t be able to survive and stay self-motivated on our flexible WFH arrangements.
- A positive outlook in life – If you generally believe in a non-idealistic way that there is good in this world and in people, then you’ll fit in well here. You’re typically a positive influence on your colleagues, enjoyable to be around and this approach to life carries through to the way you approach work and life. You don’t read negative intent in ambiguous situations and you tend to want to hear the other side first or give people the benefit of the doubt before forming a conclusion.
On the other hand, people with negative worldviews tend to perceive things negatively as a default. This could be mentorship given by a supervisor meant to help that is perceived as “micromanagement”, an innocuous comment by a colleague perceived as a personal attack or just a general feeling of distrust for any new policy or management decision. It’s exhaustive to constantly battle against these perceptions and because of their worldview, these types tend to find a reason to complain about anything and will negatively influence any office.
- Authenticity – It takes a certain amount of courage to be very honest with yourself and lead an authentic life. Some are unable to take feedback well or accept responsibility for mistakes that are made. They tend to throw others under the bus. Even when overwhelming evidence appears in front of them, they always still believe it someone else’s fault, and thus they can never improve. There was this ex-staff who believed her department had politics, but could not see she was the one causing all of it. The moment she left, the department’s culture became great again.
This quote sums up point 5 and 6 well – “A wasted day is one where we only thought about how someone else should change.”
If you find all of this too “rara” or “fake” or you can’t make friends at work, you’ll be better off at another company. But if the above aligns with your worldview and looking forward to such an office culture, here’s what you can expect when you join us.
Training & Recognition
From the get-go, a new employee is handed a structured trainee plan and peer mentor so they have a clear roadmap in front of them. We also conduct training and workshop classes internally to help upskill our staff. Our most recent workshop for managers was Enneagram training, which was conducted throughout the whole company.
We give recognition to our teams in multiple ways – from long service awards with holidays/gifts to our TSL annual awards where we recognise creators for the content they produce. We give yearly increments and also provide bonuses when we can. Career progression and raises are pegged to performance. We rather promote internally, and many of our early staff have progressed throughout the organisation and now hold leading positions in the company.
We celebrate CNY every year, and design our own custom ang paos.
Work life at TSL
The nature of our job has taken us around the world and we’re always the first to review new places in Singapore.
Our parties are known to be legendary.
Apart from our freeflow pantry, we sometimes have free lunch days and there’s a lot of food being sent to the office.
Sports days at TSL
It used to be a tradition to dress up in a theme once a month just for fun. Until COVID came along.
The TSL culture is not for everyone.
But if your worldview aligns with what you’ve read above, we’ll love to have you.