Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Employee Engagement is All About Culture

Workforce Development Seminar  |  February 7, 2014

A crowd of workforce development professionals gathered at iRobot for a discussion on employee engagement.  We took a deep dive on programs and initiatives that increase employee engagement and retention.  It starts with measurement and then continually working to improve culture and thus, engagement. 

Our panel was moderated by Tom Hart, CMO at Eliassen Group.  The panel consisted of Kristen Kenny, Director of People Operations at HubSpot, Megan Anatole, Sr. Director of HR and Brightcove and Peter Dube, Director of Executive Talent Acquisition at Philips in Andover.  The detailed strategies and different perspectives from the group was resonated the loudest with the audience.

Kristen lead off the discussion stating that HubSpot has created a great culture to attract great people.  They have built their company around Dharmesh’s Culture Code presentation.  It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.   They measure employee engagement and happiness quarterly using the NetPromoter score asking all employees, “Would you recommend HubSpot as a place to work?” and “What is the one thing to raise that score?”  Quarter to quarter it can vary and it drives their cultural spend.  Here are a few tips given by Kristen:

  • Peer bonuses – each month every person gets $100 to give to a peer
  • Free books – email Dharmesh a book you want to read, and he sends it to your Kindle
  • HubTalks – bring in big speakers – the Governor, Patty McCord, Cheryl Sandberg
  • Ask regularly, on scale of 0-10, how satisfied are you with your career growth?
  • HubSpot has always had an unlimited vacation policy.  Some teams felt they were unable to use it because of work load.  To avoid this, they guarantee the sales team two months guaranteed quota so that they can take at least two weeks of vacation per year.  
  • Two weeks is mandatory in their organization to avoid burnout. 


Next Megan from Brightcove shared some terrific tips.  Brightcove has about 400 employees adding another 60 people just recently due to an acquisition in Arizona.  Their HR department consists of seven people that manage 13 locations. With their steep growth rates and IPO in 2012, maintaining the same culture isn’t always easy.

They survey their employees annually. Their people like being part of a high growth company and from a software development perspective they enjoy working on new cool things all the time.  In 2013 their survey revealed they want open communication, compensation and career growth.
They have had to manage spend and conduct focus groups so that if employees want a benefit added, they may lose something elsewhere.  For example, this year they implemented 401K match and tuition reimbursement but their healthcare plan took a hit.  Here are a few tips from Megan:

  • We offer a fully stocked kitchen and summer happy hours!
  • Philanthropic Program - employees can take off 2 days a year, and Brightcove matches an employee’s philanthropic donations
  • Engineering focus: hack weeks once per quarter to inspire engineering to work on something new and exciting vs. the sprints
  • Their unlimited vacation policy is for US only and they welcome any insights on how to manage this.
  • They first implemented unlimited vacation on January 1st with no carry over or accrual.  
  • They’ve been very generous with hourly employees on how much vacation they have to eliminate any issues. 


Peter Dube from Philips spoke next with definitely a different prospective.  Philips has been in business for 120 years and add approximately 2500-3000 in the US annually.  They have a total of about 26,000 people in the US, 5,000 on their Andover, MA campus.  Their core mission is all about improving lives and this has been a core recruitment tool.  People come to work for Philips because they want to do meaningful work and they want a good work/life balance.  More tips for you to consider in your workplace:

  • They recently started a work/life balance index to measure how they rank across the industry. 
  • Philips is in the top 3 every year of sustainable companies
  • Their employee manifesto is all about innovation happening by people.  They want a culture where people make it personal and bring their passions to work.  Check out some of their people and their talents on these videos.  
  • Philips has developed customized personal development plans that are reviewed annually with each employee
  • They have a very competitive 401K matching 7% on 6%
  • No offices – CEO doesn’t have an office – it’s bright, open, collaborative and distracting J
  • The Philips Cares program pays its employees to do volunteer activities – 2-3 days/year
  • For healthcare, Philips has taken a population approach to lowering costs.  It costs more if you smoke.  There are incentives to live a healthier lifestyle.  They are self-insured so have a big stake in the health of their population.
  • 40% of people are hired from within so there is a good ladder of growth available


All the links above direct you to the career pages of these companies – just in case you are interested in checking them out! J  Thanks to iRobot for hosting and to our workforce development community sponsor Kronos.  It’s with the support from these companies that we can continue to deliver these great programs to help advance you and your company.

1 comment:

Steve Kucia said...

I am considering implementing a "No Vacation" policy similar to Hubspot and others but wonder how they handle employees during their resignation period. My company is based in Asia and employees tend to carry forward untaken leave as a form of saving with an eventual payout on leaving the company. Can an employee take leave during his resignation period? Happy to receive some guidance and advice.