Tech City Life: Why a great company culture is crucial
After growing his team to 65 employees, Flubit co-founder Bertie Stephens stresses the importance of rewarding staff
As our team has grown from an initial team of 1, 2, 10, to 30 in our second year, and now more than 65 amazing members of staff, I’m conscious that company culture is an incredibly important thing to keep.
You read about it all the time, but until you’re knee deep in needing it, it never becomes apparent as to why! It’s also not the easiest thing to implement and maintain, especially in an ever changing environment (such as a start-up), which commonly has lots of new faces and new people all heading towards one singular vision.
Think of culture as your co-founder
I recently read something on company culture written by the guy behind @Sonar, a mobile app start-up. He was talking about his lessons learned, and said: “Think of culture as a co-founder that is present when you are not. […] it’s your culture that helps everyone know how to act when you are out of the room.” It’s a very interesting way to look at it.
At Flubit, myself, along with the COO, co-founder and heads of our different teams do like to think that we’re doing a great job of this, but we know we can always do more. Our aim is to make working at Flubit as enjoyable and efficient as possible, within the budget limits we have. So far, to name a selection of the current perks we have, we allow flexible working hours, weekly ‘demo days’ where we meet, socialise, share ideas and generally enjoy each other’s company, monthly team socials, weekly football matches, bi-annual days out and a generous benefits package for staff to enjoy non-work related stuff; the latter being the most interesting benefit for me.
Reward staff loyalty
We also wanted our benefits package to be based solely on loyalty. From the day you pass your probation at Flubit, you’re giving money every month to spend on non-related work activities. We encourage staff to take their other half out for dinner, travel outside London and buy cool technology; again it doesn’t have to be related to work. One of our team members is learning to fly a plane – which is super cool! Every year an employee stays with us, the amount they get each month doubles. It doesn’t matter if you lead a department or not, length of service is the only differentiator.
All our perks/benefits and cultural stuff costs us around 20% of our non-payroll budget – which in real terms could buy you a couple of really nice houses every year. It’s expensive, but we hope it gives back to our staff in exchange for the hours and commitment they give us.
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That said, we’re not done – we have some even cooler stuff lined up for 2015, and end of this year.
Consider offering staff options
The job of this post is not to boast, and not to scare my investors as to where a % of their money goes… it’s also not to be seen as the ‘crazy’ start-up that installs fake grass in its office just to be ‘a crazy start-up’ (although I do love the grass)… no, it’s to show what is needed to keep a start-up ticking. We like to think these things makes life at Flubit more enjoyable than an alternative job, and we’re now in a position to introduce options into the frame.
I have recently spent some time preparing the paper work for staff options at Flubit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what options are (like I was prior to Flubit!), in short, it means that if the entire team is pulling together to head towards the same vision, and succeed, everyone is set to benefit in cash terms. Great stuff! This could be by continuing our current vision, to disrupt the e-commerce industry – or perhaps being bought by a bigger company. Only time will tell. However, it’s important to me that whatever the future holds for Flubit the people that have invested their energy and time, sweat, love and tears into the years in the making of what Flubit.com is today are deservedly rewarded.
I encourage other start-ups to consider the culture of their company, and put into practice some tactics – not all of them have to be monetary, in fact most don’t – so both you as the leader and the individual members of your team are getting what they need from work in a win-win situation where everyone is not just satisfied but actually enjoys being part of the environment you’ve mutually created.
Bertie Stephens is chief executive of demand-driven marketplace Flubit.com.