Company Culture in Tech: More Important Than Money?
Posted by Taylor Aldredge
With Tech in Motion’s upcoming Women in Tech panels across the country, company culture and treatment of employees in the technology industry has been a big topic of conversation. Taylor Aldredge, Grasshopper’s Ambassador of Buzz, dove further into these topics with a Q & A discussing the importance of a company’s culture and how culture has shaped Grasshopper and its employees.
Why is company culture so important in the tech industry?
Company culture is vital because things move at lightning speed in tech. Bad culture or none at all can exacerbate issues in a heartbeat. If you’re growing without structure and goals, then you’re just growing for the sake of growing. It helps the entire organization when everyone is on the same page and those people are aligned in how to help their customers as well as their colleagues to solve problems. This will reduce employee churn and morale will be higher.
Speaking of morale, in light of Women's History Month (March), what can tech startups do to help women employees feel more comfortable in the office culture?
First and foremost, hire more women. Plain and simple. From a culture perspective, make everything more inviting and gender neutral. Immediately saying that this perk is for women and this perk is for men, and thinking of things separately is counter-intuitive. That’s not going to improve anything. Instead, do things and create things that everyone can believe in and buy into. That will go a lot further in creating an environment that everyone wants to be a part of regardless of whether they’re men or women. Ultimately, there are bros everywhere. The hope would be to filter those bros out in the hiring process and bring in people that understand how your culture operates.
Just why should companies take note of Grasshopper's view of culture?
Companies should take note because it shows there are other ways to build a sustainable company that lasts over a decade; plus, we’re revenue positive (and profitable), and we did it without constantly raising rounds of funding. We’ve shown that if you hustle hard, work hard, and build a great company with shared beliefs, then anything is possible. So many companies get wrapped up in raising too much money too fast and fall flat on their face without figuring out what they believe in first and how they should build revenue. The feeling of understanding our customers and building a great company has permeated into our decision-making - and our customers would tell you it’s reflected everywhere they interact with us if you ask them.
So what does Grasshopper offer its employees that makes it different from other companies?
The more important thing - beyond the benefits and perks that we offer - is that our culture operates from top to bottom. Top to bottom means that every interaction we have internally and externally with customers reflects our brand promise and core values. Sure, we have the standard benefits like Health and Dental as well as a PTO policy and various other perks to working here, but that’s not culture. Culture is the shared belief structure that we all operate within here. It helps us make decisions about how to grow our company, help our customers, add new features, and create new perks for employees. Our brand promise is to empower entrepreneurs to succeed and our core values are:
- Go Above and Beyond
- Always Entrepreneurial
- Radically Passionate
- Your Team
This structure has helped us grow as a bootstrapped company without taking any VC funding and to do things our way. That’s one of the greatest perks about working here. It’s very free and loose to try things and be creative.
Well, what are some of the results Grasshopper has seen from its benefits and perks?
Everything has improved because we’ve done a better job hiring the right people based on the core values, making decisions about the product, reducing employee turnover, and increasing revenue each year. Since 2008, employee turnover has reduced from 25% to 10%. That’s huge. We’re a small company, and if we have turnover at 25%, we’re constantly in flux. We need to hire the right people and keep them here. In turn, that’s enabled us to keep revenue goals on track with over 20% YoY growth the last two years. Additionally, the marketing team has been together at its core for more than two years now. I don’t know a lot of marketing teams that can say the same thing in the tech world.
About the Author
Taylor Alredge is the Ambassador of Buzz for Grasshopper, a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Founded by two entrepreneurs in 2003, Grasshopper is dedicated to making it easier to start and grow small businesses. Grasshopper set out to empower entrepreneurs with a product that enables businesses to sound more professional and stay connected from anywhere in the world. Grasshopper also offers resources and guides to help small business owners succeed. To date, Grasshopper has served over 150,000 entrepreneurs—and the company continues to grow.