Culture is king at AgileThought, a Tampa-based software consulting and application development company. In fact, co-founder and CEO David Romine calls it the bedrock of the business.

The key to maintaining that strong culture, Romine says, is to pick prospective clients and potential hires that fit with the firm. "If we don't enjoy working together on a regular basis, that's really not going to last long in our company," Romine says. "Almost the entire reason we have grown so much over the past 13 years is that we pick the relationships with our clients."

That system is working for AgileThought: The startup has been on the Inc. 5000 for 10 consecutive years and grew 70 percent in the past three years. What's more, it brought in $35.4 million in revenue last year. Romine, John Wagner, and Ryan Dorrell founded the startup in 2004 with the hopes of creating a business with leadership opportunities for the people they hired.

AgileThought currently has more 300 employees helping to preserve the company's society. "Our culture in a lot of ways defines how we treat each other, how we treat our clients, and how we view our craft," Romine says.

Here's how the business recruits and retains top talent to keep that spirit intact.

1. Hire candidates who understand the culture.

Romine says AgileThought relies heavily on direct employee referrals. This year, it had 28 referral hires and six team members returned to work at the company.

Once the best candidates are identified, they are brought in for interviews. Romine says attitude and aptitude are the most important traits of AgileThought hires, so prospective employees are asked a series of critical behavior questions. The goal of the interview, Romine says, is to see if a person would fit within the culture.

"The interviewers are generally folks who have been around a while and who get it from a cultural standpoint. We call them culture carriers," Romine says. "They understand and exemplify our culture, so they are the best judge of whether an individual might fight with the culture."

2. A new hire doesn't need to be a leader but should have leadership skills.

An interviewer will ask candidates about a time when they went above and beyond to help out a team member, how that changed the relationship, and what they learned from the experience. Culture carriers will also ask prospective hires about when they worked through a difficult problem and the steps they took to resolve the matter.

3. Do what you can to keep employees happy.

AgileThought had a 7.9 percent turnover rate in the past year. Romine says that once someone is hired, and as long as the person is a good fit, leadership works to keep him or her in the company. 

There are perks like happy hours, flexible work arrangements, and games, but Romine knows there's more to keeping people happy at work. Within the business are committees focused on organizing activities like charitable giving and health and wellness.

4. Have an unhappy employee? There are solutions that don't involve firing.

AgileThought also strives to make sure employees enjoy the work they are doing. Romine says staffers can safely voice dissatisfaction in a role and leadership will help find a solution. For instance, employees could be moved to another position if they are unhappy in their role, or modify their work environment.

"Not many people dislike their job on a daily basis," Romine says. "We really have a culture where people don't endure an unsatisfactory job or job situation."  

Published on: Dec 11, 2017