Week 4 – Organizational Culture
Week 4 of my internship program at Bloomingdale’s was themed “Building Meaningful Relationships”. The week consisted of an elective day in which our interns could opt into panels such as the marketing, finance, operations and social panels, a field trip to the Yankees game, a day of service cleaning a NYC public garden and two full days of shadowing my specific department. Because of this scale of activities outside of the office, I was able to better grasp the organizational context of Bloomingdale’s.
This summer I was assigned to a final project group that needs to address the challenge of moving the corporate office from Manhattan to Long Island City. Through several meetings with employees it has been reiterated that they hope that this move will help alleviate one of the greatest concerns/challenges that pertains to organizational culture: collaboration and communication across teams.
Because of the layout of the current corporate office, which is divided by floor based on department (i.e. home, men’s, children’s, etc.), there seems to be a divide and lack of communication between these teams/departments. For example, I am shadowing on the Ready To Wear team (women’s clothing) and I do not have much knowledge on what the schedules of the interns/employees on the home department are like. Even worse is the divide between the merchant employees (buyers/planners, etc.) and the store teams. The employees are afraid that this move from Manhattan (3 blocks from the Flagship Store) to Long Island City (a subway ride) will make this divide worse. However, the LIC campus, which the corporate team will move to in 2021, promotes more interaction between teams because of the physical building. The new office will include more conference rooms; more flex and interactive space; a deck, cafeteria and lounge for only Bloomingdale’s employees and a staircase that is designed to promote interaction between floors. Our recommendations for this project so far include ways to promote interaction between floor through events and incentives to utilize these common spaces along with communication strategies that will be supplied to all floors and departments.
Currently, the organization structure of Bloomingdale’s for each floor is extremely informal and interactive. Within my floor there is a lot of collaboration and I know about the schedules, vendors and market appointments of other Ready To Wear Buyers (there are 5 buying/planning teams in RTW). Our floor is extremely collaborative and social with employees walking around to each other’s cubicles, our general merchandise manager checking in on all teams and how everyone is doing/how their weekend was and daily news flashes not only from all of Bloomingdale’s but also from Ready to Wear specifically. Overall, I would consider this interaction and communication between employees to be extremely informal. While they do communicate on the floor mainly by walking to each other, the company also uses Skype Business which allows employees to interact less formally and more quick than email. A piece of advice from a panelist this week explains this social culture. She reiterated that at Bloomingdale’s if you want to be successful that before you ask for help/advice, you need to always be social and friendly (i.e. asking questions about how they are doing). Another testament to the organizational culture of Bloomingdale’s that employees have the opportunity to work from home ⅖ days of the work week but not many employees do because they love this dynamic environment.
Lastly, this week I truly discovered that Bloomingdale’s employees are extremely passionate about Bloomingdale’s values and truly incorporate them into the workplace and into the real world. The majority of employees are part of an ERG (employee resource group) because they are passionate about the topic and will designate time out of their day to participate in these meetings. For example, this week my team went to a tie-dye event that benefited a sustainability cause and Bloomingdale’s had a float in the Pride parade this week. While I do not think that this is an expectation that employees have to participate in these initiatives such as service day, I think that giving back to the community is a value that Bloomingdale’s promotes by allowing employees to participate during their work hours. This shows that it is integral to the company and the organizational context.