At Wanderlust’s core is its mission to create community around mindful living. Our yoga festivals offer a wide variety of mindful experiences for attendees, from yoga classes to meditation sessions, from nature activities to farm-to-table dining.
So it makes sense that internally Wanderlust is committed to building a conscious company and culture that reflects and aligns with our mission and the experience we create for our guest. However, things like creating corporate retreats and providing the best 401k packages can be quite challenging while you’re experiencing rapid growth and in mid-transition out of the bootstrap stage. All of us at Wanderlust are working long hours to meet the demands of growth.
My cofounder and best friend Sean and I spent the Christmas holiday writing our employee handbook with a focus on developing a mindful corporate policy. While we tackled a lot of the basic employee benefits (health, dental, 401k, family medical leave, PTO), we also developed the following concepts with the intention of creating a corporate policy that reflected our brand and with the hope of building an engaged and passionate team who feels like their work has a greater purpose.
Here are 10 policies we instituted to align our outside end product with the inside process of the company:
This idea is all about creating upward mobility within the company. Team members will work harder if they know they will be rewarded with advancement. Traditionally, employees try to make themselves indispensable. Successorship relies on completely the opposite. We encourage employees to create systems that make themselves dispensable in the sense that they can easily onboard someone new within two weeks to fill their shoes. This allows management to promote junior employees without the anxiety that they are the “only one who can do their job.” Successorship is a promise to the team that we will always look inward first to fill roles and hire from the bottom. This creates loyalty and has led to very little turnover.
This idea inextricably links core mission to bottom line. Our team is highly invested in our core mission of creating community around mindful living. For Wanderlust, the more mindful community we can create the more profitable we are, and, in turn, the more profitable we are the bigger the community we can build.
We regularly, and sometimes randomly, ask team members to recite the core mission. It is part of every employee review. Fluency with the core mission creates a sense that everyone is working together in service of an over-arching purpose. We want to collectively internalize our focus.
This is tied in with mission fluency. The imbuing of our values across company ranks allows management to let go of making all the decisions. A decentralized approach to decision-making relieves us of the need to micro-manage and allows us to focus on growth and business development. At the same time, it empowers individuals on our team, as they feel trusted to make important decisions for the company. Sure, people make some mistakes, but, in the end, their confidence in their ability to lead flourishes.
We set up an anonymous feedback form that allows all team members to report problems and constructive criticism directly to the executive team without revealing their identity. Feedback pops into our email inboxes and we review once a month.
We literally made little red flags for everyone in the office. They actually resemble little red cornhole bags. Once a year, any employee can throw their red flag and everything in the office must stop within 10 minutes. This allows an employee to address something VERY important or share a stroke of genius. A red flag rarely gets thrown but, psychologically, it makes everyone feel empowered to have an effect on the company and have management’s ear.
Once a day, Isabelle, our activities programmer, can call out a spontaneous four-minute yoga plank/upper push-up position and everyone drops to the floor and holds it while the music bumps. We do the same with four minutes of complete silence. These little activities aren’t only healthy, but they are fun and build team spirit.
This is really for the executives. Ninety-nine percent of my work is on my laptop so I can plop down anywhere. I make a point of sitting with other departments a couple of days per week. Just sitting in a different point-of-view creates a connection between all levels of employees and me. It creates a feeling of accessibility. I often learn something, too.
Once every month, we publish a piece from Wanderlust HQ on our website and social networks. Everyone takes a turn at writing something and getting out in front of our audience.
In our office this comes down to, generally, yoga or beer. We brokered a great deal with our local yoga studio that we pass along to all employees. They practice consistently together. Fortunately, there is also an amazing beer hall in our building. And often, our team goes on weekend trips together. Building relationship outside of the office creates trust and friendship that carries back into the workplace.
Some people expect that a yoga-based business would naturally be very mindful. But, even though it’s yoga, it’s still business, and there are bottom-line pressures and an intense pace. I often joke that there is nothing like running a yoga festival to make you stressed and overweight. By integrating these techniques we have kept Wanderlust fun, even as we clack away into the wee hours.
—Jeff Krasno is the co-founder of Wanderlust, a series of large-scale events combining yoga and wellness with the arts. Jeff oversees festival programming and business development for Wanderlust forging corporate partnerships, cultivating licensing opportunities and developing its studio, teacher training, and apparel extensions.