Patti Gamble, Director of Human Resources & Operations at Elevate, a digital commerce agency, sat down with Zenefits’ VP of Customer Engagement, Sarah Blanchard, to discuss how Elevate’s team defines the pillars of their company culture, and how they maintain and promote that culture.
SB: Tell us about Elevate and what you do.
PG: To stay out in front of industry changes and provide the most value for our customers, we’ve recently repositioned our business. Fourteen years ago, we were a full-service design agency, but over time, we have evolved to be more specific. Today, as a digital commerce agency, we help some of the largest brands in the world increase revenue by analyzing their e-commerce experiences using real-world data. Our expert evaluation provides a concrete strategy to reduce issues that may be blocking a customer’s path to purchase which then leads to those revenue increases in the short and long term.
My role at Elevate is pretty broad, but primarily I am focused on HR-related matters and back-office operations.
SB: What has your employees’ experience been using Zenefits for onboarding?
PG: One of the reasons why Zenefits is such a wow moment for employee onboarding is because it could not be easier to go through the flow. It sends the message right up front that our team is important to us and we want to make it easy for them to get on board and get started. When we look at new tools, a lot of it comes to functionality, but a huge focus is usability.
I always ask new hires if they feel all their benefits questions were answered through Zenefits onboarding, and the response is always something like “it was a great experience,” or “there were no issues.”
SB: How did you define your company culture?
PG: Culture needs to be a grassroots effort. So to understand where we were as a culture when I joined three years ago, we sent around a questionnaire. We identified four pillars of culture that seemed to be important to people in the company:
Social — This pillar is about our ability to connect as a team in lighthearted ways that don’t directly relate to work.
Philanthropic — Throughout the organization, employees strive to do something bigger and make a difference in the world.
Elevate Spirit — We love the work that we do and want to find ways to foster our collective creativity and celebrate the work we are doing, both internally and for our clients.
Health and Wellness — We all share a common interest in finding ways to take care of our bodies and minds, grow personally, and support growth in each other.
SB: What do you do to promote a positive company culture?
PG: We created teams based on those four pillars that define us. We don’t have a massive budget, but for example, for health and wellness, we do plank breaks. Some people do wall sits, some people just use it as a moment of contemplation away from their machines. We provide healthy snacks like fruit and trail mix. During a particularly stressful project, we had an acupuncturist, an energy healer, and a massage therapist come in every other week.
SB: What benefits do you offer and why?
PG: If you look at the benefits we offer, they reflect where the people at Elevate are in their lives and what types of things they’re thinking about. We’re at the point where we’re going to offer a dental buy up because statistically people have more dental issues between ages thirty and forty, and our team is getting in that range. It’s not random.
SB: What do you do for fun?
PG: Culturally we are pretty heads down in the office. Folks here are very detail-oriented, methodical people. Because of that and because we really believe in a reasonable workday and workweek, it tends to be quiet during the day. We’re not really the foosball table types though for some reason, we have a rich history in beer pong. But once a quarter or so we get out of the office, and we may go play bocci ball at a bar or hit a museum since a good chunk of our team are designers and relate to the art. For our holiday party, we went ice skating at a hotel top ice rink and one year we had drinks at the Zoo.
SB: How do you celebrate employee anniversaries?
PG: We do a birthday and anniversary celebration once a month. We get the email from Zenefits letting us know who to celebrate – I love that!
SB: Can you tell us about your volunteer time off policy?
PG: I cannot say enough about the Zenefits PTO tracking tool because it offers so much flexibility. All the things we can do, I can only do because we have that option. We work on projects together as a team, but we also like people to be able to participate in other social services activities, so we created our volunteer time off plan. At twelve hours, It’s not a huge amount of time, but we pay employees to do volunteer work either through organized efforts at Elevate or on their own. People really seem to appreciate the option.
SB: How often do you let people work from home?
PG: We decided to start small and if it works well, go bigger. We started with two days a month that people can work remotely. Overall, the program seems to be a success. In a recent survey, across the board people said they liked the option to work remotely and there are no reported productivity issues. Zenefits gives us the ability to check the calendar and see where people are, which makes this program possible and effortless for us.
It’s a challenge for smaller companies to stay current and fresh. Our clients are huge, and we do amazing work for them with a team of just seventeen people. I attribute that to us constantly thinking of who we are and what we do.