Hannah Wiser, Assistant Consultant, joined FRG’s NEET program in 2019. She recently reflected on the company’s workplace culture.
There are three words that best describe the culture at FRG: communal, sociable, and spontaneous. These traits are fitting for a firm that bridges technology and financial risk management. FRG works to align ever-evolving technology practices with changes in business and regulation. When a workplace values a sense of community, is socially inclusive, and breaks mundane convention, constructive interaction becomes the norm. The result? Teammates communicate more effectively—with each other, as well as with the client. Such an environment increases productivity and allows space for trusting relationships to grow. FRG lives by this, nurturing the skills that not only improve business, but also make this work fulfilling and satisfying.
Most teams at FRG are made up of a mix of people from different backgrounds, which fuels a sense of communal strength. Everyone at FRG is welcoming and approachable, regardless of position, education, or experience level. Because every project comes with its own challenges, teammates depend on each other to learn and get the job done. Each person is considered a valuable addition to the team, whether they are just graduating from college or already experts in the risk field.
People have a basic need to feel included. The FRG office seems to have been designed with this in mind, with several areas available for coworkers to gather organically. It is common to see people in the breakroom talking about their weekend or their hobbies. There is also space to chat in the front lobby, where a campfire-style seating area doubles as a place to take a break and a place to work with others.
Lastly, nothing brings people together like breakfast at FRG. Management will often brighten the morning with a stack of Bruegger’s Bagels in the breakroom. And not just any bagels: to help determine which flavors are the office favorites, they sent an employee survey to build the order that is used today.
While bagels are typically a surprise, some groups regularly bring food to the office. Many look forward to Fridays in particular. That is when the Chic-Fil-A Club brings in Chicken Mini Trays, and when the Duck Doughnuts club brings in doughnuts.
The people at FRG seek opportunities for their coworkers to participate in activities together. The office’s veteran event planners lead a team of volunteers who outline and detail these activities. Most notable is the FRG bi-annual meeting, a day-long event which begins as a company-wide presentation, then transitions to a team-building event (such as go-karting, laser tag, or trivia), and ends in a catered celebration with coworkers and clients. Other, less formal occasions that spot the calendar include charity cook-offs, baby showers, and white elephant gift exchanges.
Socializing is encouraged at FRG, both inside and outside the office. Lunchtime cookouts and pick-up basketball games often happen when the weather is nice. Employees with special interests like golf, poker, bowling, board games, and sporting events get together after hours to pursue their hobbies. Going off-site to visit clients often means catching up with colleagues and former coworkers. These trips also allow some classes of the New Employee Excellence Training program to get to know their future managers. In these ways, entertaining is a valuable skill practiced at FRG.
No one has to eat lunch alone at FRG. Regular lunch outings make work more social, and they also facilitate conversation across teams and levels of management. Over a sandwich colleagues will trade stories about past projects, or share tips that range from the best places to eat in Chicago to investment strategy. Eating outside the office also gives new employees a chance to become acclimated to the area and helps make Cary feel like home.
Considering the pivot-prone nature of work that takes place at FRG, spontaneity can (ironically) be beneficial to practice. That might mean a group visit to the downstairs coffee machine, or a quick game of chess. Allowing time and space for bursts of fun can help keep someone sharp, engaged, and relaxed. Many people enjoy the 4×4 Rubik’s cube, puzzles, indoor basketball hoop, and mini golf clubs that are sprinkled around the office.
Because FRG is a team-centric firm, some employees prefer breaks that are social as well as challenging. For instance, there are two chess boards set up permanently in the communal area specifically for the game Bughouse. This timed game of team chess involves partners feeding each other the pieces they take from their opponent. This keeps both players and spectators on their toes.
To operate in an environment like FRG, employees need quick access to information while keeping interruptions to a minimum. For this reason, instant messaging is a major way to communicate at FRG. The firm’s organizational structure is notably flat. This is supported by the ease of access that instant messaging allows. Employees can ping anyone in the company – including the partners – at any time. The informality of messaging can be less cumbersome than traditional email and blurs team boundaries, encouraging a sense of unity. This expedites sharing ideas, troubleshooting, and getting answers quickly. There is also something to be said about unprompted witty banter in a friendly group chat that builds a further bond.
The well-being of employees is an important factor to building a strong company. By promoting a culture that is communal, sociable, and spontaneous, FRG offers advantages to its employees that go beyond the cubicle. Most importantly, how employees feel about their job has a significant impact on their quality of life. A strong culture makes business feel real and interpersonal, and FRG gets this.