If finding and retaining the best talent is a pain point for your company, you need to be intentional about creating a workplace renowned for treating employees well. That's according to Jeff Diana, chief people officer for software company Atlassian, which recently landed on the number two spot on the Great Place to Work Institute's list for mid-sized companies in the United States for being, well, a great place to work. Here are some of the things he says any company can do to become known for treating employees well.
1. Use actual employees, not recruiters, to tell your story.
Atlassian recently conducted hiring campaigns in Australia and Europe that involved pop-up offices in chic neighborhoods as well as a surf campaign featuring an old Volkswagen bus and surfboards. Not only did the company garner a spike in hits to campaign websites, make a series of good hires and garner good media attention, it used actual employees to staff events. "They talk about the company and how we work, what it's like to be here, how we make decisions and what we stand for," he says. "We want give people a true sense of who we are and how we operate."
2. Strongly incentivize employees for referring the right kinds of people.
At Atlassian it's a $10,000 bonus paid over four years if the person stays with the company. "They're incentivized to only get that full amount if the person is here and fits our culture for the long term," he says.
3. Provide a values-centric welcome.
Within 48 hours of extending a verbal offer to a candidate, the company sends a package stuffed with items reflective of the company's culture. For example, it includes a vacation-before-you-start voucher intended to communicate that Atlassian values balance, as well as a T-shirt voucher reflective of the company's informal vibe. "And it comes from a heartfelt letter from the founder that says 'Before you join us, really make sure you know who we are and what we stand for,'" he says.
4. Help candidates understand what it's like to work for your company before they sign on the dotted line.
In January Atlassian will be launching an interactive video game similar to Second Life that lets people enter a virtual office and make choices about what to do there. "And of course all of those [choices] weave throughout our values--what they stand for, our mission, our purpose, some of the great customer stories we have," he says.
5. Empower employees to recognize each other.
Atlassian has a Kudos program through which employees can gift each other items valued from $25 to $50. But whatever behavior they're commending must be associated to one of the company's values. "We have a hand-written card that gets delivered to the person," he says. "Whether it was a bottle of wine or movie tickets or whatever it is, the only thing that people care about is that card. And you'll find those cards on people's desks all across the company."
6. Reward people for sticking around.
After five years with the company Atlassian employees get $3,000 for a vacation. "The only requirement we have is you come back and you use our Confluence product and share with the company what awesome trip you took, and how you recharged," he says. "We want to reinforce the balance that's associated with--it's not just work. It's play, as well."
7. Provide unlimited vacation.
"We don't check it. We don't bank it. We don't do time tracking," he says. "We want to provide flexibility and trust in our employees to feel empowered and work with their managers around taking time off."
8. Give people time off to volunteer.
Any Atlassian employee can have up to five days a year to do good things in the world.
9. Pay people well.
Instead of setting salaries according to the market, Atlassian differentiates pay and equity awards primarily based on performance and relative to peers. In addition, bonuses are aligned with overall corporate goals, so everyone receives the same level of payout. The idea is to motivate people to work towards what's best for the company, not just for individuals.
10. Make employees owners.
Every year 15 to 20 percent of Atlassian employees receive equity in the company. But what they appreciate most is how it's communicated. First time equity holders receive a hat box stuffed with Dom Perignon, chocolates and a letter hand signed by the company's founders.
"The powerfulness isn't that they got the equity but that they're recognized as an individual," he says. "The more you create that personalized connection, the better the reaction you get."