My key learnings for improving company culture at a tech company
To be honest, culture wasn’t a main focus in my previous roles before joining Reward Gateway six years ago. I knew coming into the role of CEO that Reward Gateway would change me a lot more than I was going to change it – and that's certainly been the case.
The past six years have been a real journey and I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in that time. Here are some of the main ideas I’ve been thinking about over the past 12 months, hopefully they resonate with anyone tasked with building a thriving culture within their own business.
Making your mission stick
At Reward Gateway, everything revolves around our mission to "Make the world a better place to work." We promote it, reference it in almost every internal and external communication, and we live it in our own business.
When we give our presentations externally or internally, every one of them has our statement at the beginning and at the end. That means everything about Reward Gateway begins and ends with the mission. Reiterating our mission over and over again reinforces its importance, and anchoring it to our decisions makes a big difference in how we position the business to the market and our people.
Every one of our employees plays a pivotal role in delivering on our mission, so it’s crucial to connect them with our mission as early and as often as possible during their journey with us.
One of the things I say to new people joining the company is that I expect them to add to our culture, and add to our business. If and when they move on, they should leave Reward Gateway (a little) better off than they found it.
Putting wellbeing at the heart of everything
Assessing, preserving and enhancing the wellbeing of our people is a big part of what I do, and a critical focus of what we do as a business. We've now incorporated more and more wellbeing products into our solutions internally.
For several years we've offered a benefit for our employees of up to $575 towards a wellbeing-related initiative or activity of their choice.
It could be something educational, medical, creative, or whatever makes sense to the individual. We also ask people to share how they're using that particular benefit so that it becomes a visible part of our culture.
We also have been spending a lot more time talking about mental wellbeing. In addition to my own communications and personal reflections on and experiences with the subject, we provide a communication outlet for our people to share their own personal stories and struggles. We promote open discussion and, fortunately, we've managed to create an environment where some people are comfortable talking about sensitive topics that resonate with others and promote empathy and understanding around the business.
Scaling your culture isn’t easy
One of the biggest challenges I’m facing right now is working out how to maintain our culture as the business gets bigger. We're not a huge company, but when I joined six years ago we were around 300 people and now we are about 600+ strong. It's a very different challenge to connect with people when your headcount has doubled in size.
Of course, we have aspirations to be much bigger than we are today and we will have to continue changing our approach and adapt as we go.
Lately I have been promoting “distributed” responsibility for preserving and enhancing our culture. This means I am asking my Leadership Team, as well as their managers, to make themselves more visible across the business. Reward Gateway has also embraced and provided communications channels for DEI-related and other inclusive networks which are home grown, employee-sponsored communities. These serve as internal sounding boards, and provide valuable feedback to me on a regular basis on areas of interest and/or concern as well as suggestions for related initiatives.
Business growth has the benefit of increasing the number of people employed by Reward Gateway on our mission, but it also presents new challenges as well. As CEO, I have to be prepared to embrace change and to make sure that our business, and our culture, are agile enough to evolve into something bigger and better.