When it comes to employee engagement, HubSpot is counted among the best. The inbound marketing innovator, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, rakes in honors as an employer. Most recently, the company made Glassdoor’s 2014 Employees’ Choice Awards for Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For.
Current and former employees glow about HubSpot on Glassdoor, where it has an overall 4.1/5 rating:
“The people HubSpot employs are incredibly intelligent and require you to bring your A-game every day. The learning environment is spectacular and everyone is willing to answer your questions. HubTalks are always a great time and the seemingly unlimited free food in the kitchen is a plus. Just make sure not to OD on candy.”
“You can feel the energy and sense of purpose as soon as you arrive.”
“Great culture, people and benefits.”
“HubSpot is the hot spot.”
So, what’s HubSpot’s secret to building an engaged workplace culture? Fortunately for the rest of us, the company is remarkably transparent about how it works. In reading HubSpot blog posts like “How to Create 200 Hours of Marketing Content in One Night” and “The HubSpot Culture Code: Creating a Company We Love,” it quickly becomes apparent how intentional the company is about its culture and work ethic.
This is a company that takes employee engagement seriously, and in doing so, provides the rest of us some fantastic (and specific!) guidelines for how to improve.
Here are some key takeaways from HubSpot about smart employee engagement:
1. Know Why Culture Matters Today
Culture is at the core of human motivation, happiness and engagement. Borrowing from the tech lexicon, HubSpot describes workplace culture as a company’s “operating system.”
And yet the very definition of what makes a good workplace culture has transformed dramatically in the past decade. Previously, workplace culture was based on lifelong tenure, bosses, 9-to-5 hours in an office and accruing a nice pension.
Now we think of workplace culture in terms of the meaning it brings to our lives and how well we collaborate with our colleagues. A job now can last a week, a year or five years. It can happen in an office, at home or on the beach.
Our approach to workplace culture has to change with the times. HubSpot wants purpose to matter more than paychecks and great colleagues to matter more than who’s in charge. The company sums up its cultural mission like this:
2. Hire Smart
“Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing,” according to the 135-slide manifesto on HubSpot culture. This is where we get into a self-reinforcing feedback loop: an engaged culture is based on hiring engaged people, and engaged people are attracted to an engaged culture.
Hiring smart means being completely honest about who you are. HubSpot doesn’t sugarcoat that it’s a demanding employer with high standards. The benefits are great, but it takes a certain drive and caliber to meet the HubSpot ideal. Transparency about internal culture means you’ll be attracting the right kind of people — people who know what they’re getting into and are prepared and eager to contribute.
3. Identify Purpose, Distribute Widely
In HubSpot’s case, the company purpose is to serve the customer and share an evangelical dedication to inbound marketing. “Solve for the Customer (SFTC)” is a HubSpot motto and it drives everything the company does.
Again, an engaged culture relies on transparency. Business success happens when everyone knows the company purpose and is fully informed and well-versed in the reasoning and goals behind it.
HubSpot believes our societal concept of power has changed along with changes in workplace culture:
4. Embrace Change
Change is the theme of the emerging workplace culture — changing jobs, flexible locations, flexible hours — so the ability to adapt is paramount.
HubSpot encourages adaptability among its employees with a “seat shuffle” every three months. A large part of the HubSpot staff takes part in this musical chairs. Why? “It reflects our ‘change is constant’ credo. It also circumvents a lot of needless politics.”
5. Create an Environment for Creativity and Competition
To see how this works on a small, intense scale, check out HubSpot’s step-by-step guide to hosting a “hack night.” This, in microcosm, is the template of the HubSpot culture: competitive but collaborative, regimented but creative and intense but fun.
6. Have Leaders Who Walk the Talk
HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah don’t lock themselves in a CEO suite dispersing advice from on high while doing whatever they want. They are hands-on, democratic leaders who share their vision for the company frequently and openly.
Most importantly, they model the behavior they espouse.
Halligan told Business Insider last year, “We’re trying to create an extremely flat organization, an extremely transparent organization, and there’s all sorts of things we do around that. I think that if you were in the company, on a day-to-day basis, you’d have a hard time figuring out that I was the CEO of the company versus just one of the employees.”
7. Invest in People (Even After They Leave)
In today’s fast-paced, flexible working environment, many people choose to stay with companies for just a few years. That’s fine, in HubSpot’s estimation. In fact, the company invests in and supports former employees: “We call them HubSpot Alumni. We expect them to go on to do more amazing things. We want them as friends and advocates forever.” HubSpot will help former employees by reviewing their startup pitches, for example.
It’s a continuation of the support the company offers its current employees, too. HubSpot views this as an investment in “individual mastery and market value.” This includes continual opportunities for learning and exposure to new ideas and challenges.
It pays to take employee engagement and workplace culture so seriously. Even in 2012, barely six years after it was founded, Forbes reported that HubSpot was serving 6,000 clients. It raked in $29 million in revenue in 2011, up 81 percent from 2010. Meanwhile, HubSpot alumni and veteran employees make the news for their innovative projects and startups.
It’s not surprising that HubSpot’s highly engaged culture breeds success. Study after study shows a direct correlation between employee engagement and business performance.
For more on building an amazing culture of employee engagement and success, download our FREE ebook, “Winning with Workplace Gratitude”.
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