In the midst of the current pandemic, 71 percent of employed adults who are able to do so have found themselves working from home. As a result, many professionals have had a difficult time achieving high productivity levels while also maintaining a stable work-life balance, and the mental health of many employees has suffered. But some organizations are taking notice of this issue and making efforts to combat employee burnout.

The Basement is an Indianapolis-based advertising agency already ahead of the game. They have been working actively for years to prevent employee burnout while encouraging physical and mental well-being. With a roster of nearly 50 employees (18 of which are Butler University grads), The Basement has built a healthy team culture that prioritizes people and promotes growth both in and out of the workplace.

Its positive workplace culture has earned The Basement a strong reputation as one of the best employers in the Indianapolis area—one factor that leads many Butler alumni to pursue positions at this agency. The Basement’s Vice President of Client Services, Todd Bolster ’05, says the strong community of Bulldogs at the company and across Indianapolis has helped shape his career.

Todd Bolster ’05

Now, Bolster is giving back to the Butler community by partnering with the Lacy School of Business, the College of Communication, and BU|BeWell to host a virtual discussion about well-being in the workplace. On April 13 at 6:00 PM, Bolster will be joined by The Basement CEO Conrad Edwards for a conversation about how leaders can help maintain the health and wellness of their employees and their organizations while also seeing to their own well-being. The Zoom event is open to Butler students, faculty, staff, and alumni. You can register here.

As an involved member of Greek Life throughout his time at Butler and Student Government Association President during his senior year, Bolster had a variety of experiences that helped him build a strong network around campus. These relationships helped enhance his Butler experience even after he graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. A Butler referral ultimately helped him land his first job at MediaSauce, where he initially met the two founders of The Basement. Later in his career, he reconnected with The Basement team and began working at the agency in Sales and Account Management. From there, he moved up to his current position as VP.

Founded in 2007, The Basement is an integrated agency specializing in marketing and advertising. Bolster joined the team early on, when its primary focus was creative work, but the agency has since shifted to also provide media and account management services. 

With the agency’s growth has come an influx of Butler-alum employees. Located only a short drive from campus, The Basement has been a natural fit for many grads looking to stay in Indy. However, it’s more than the close proximity to campus that has kept 18 Butler alumni working at The Basement as “Dwellers.” As described by Campaign Coordinator Sarah Crull ’19, “The environment that The Basement has created in a lot of ways is a reflection of The Butler Way. My coworkers consistently put the whole of the company before themselves, while always looking for ways to grow and improve. I think this similarity between the two places is evident for those who have experienced both, and a huge reason so many Bulldogs have become Dwellers.”

This parallel was immediately clear to current Basement intern and Butler senior Emi Smith, who says, “I think so many Butler students and alumni specifically are drawn to The Basement because of its strong sense of community. One of the main reasons prospective students choose Butler is because of our community—accessibility to peers and professors, opportunities for leadership and involvement, and a genuine culture of care. This same type of community is apparent at The Basement.”

Bolster says the agency keeps its employees at the heart of everything it does.

“I genuinely believe we have a responsibility, in positions of leadership, to create companies where people want to work—where they’re valued, where they’re respected, where they’re taken care of,” he says.

This dedication to employee well-being is executed at the agency in many ways. Put into practice, prioritizing employee well-being at The Basement means frequent one-on-ones with supervisors to ensure progress and goals are being met.

“You shouldn’t have to wait until your annual review to find out how you’re doing or get some great feedback,” Bolster says.

Another tool in fostering a healthy work environment is encouraging employees to speak with leadership. With a mantra of “great ideas come from everywhere,” Bolster says employees are encouraged to speak up and share their thoughts. “Regardless of your title, a great idea is a great idea.”

The agency also encourages its team members to live fulfilling lives outside of the office, creating an environment where employees feel respected by peers and leadership, as well as motivated to do their best work.

“The Basement recognizes its employees as people, ahead of the work that they accomplish,” Crull says. “Everyone is eager to ask questions and pour into one another. We are focused on helping each other be the best, both from a personal and professional perspective.”

During the April 13 Well-being at Work panel, The Basement’s Todd Bolster ’05 and Conrad Edwards will discuss the agency’s focus on organizational growth and what it means to prioritize employee health.