|Summary: Solid perks, looks for A-team players, great training, ultra-low turnover, Apple Radio piped in and try-before-you-buy lunch paid by the company before you start.|
|Intro: Simply put, (I may be biased but) I feel like our culture is really fantastic. The kind of candidates we look for are ones who gravitate toward a smaller, nimble, entrepreneurial environment where they feel like they can make a measureable impact. If one of our salespeople goes out one day and closes a 6-figure deal that makes a BIG impact. If one of our developers devises new, game-changing functionality, that makes a BIG impact. We want players who want to (and are prepared to) make a BIG impact, not just be another number. The kind of A-team player that has this philosophy typically chooses us over other employers because they sense that this mindset will go far here.|
The key to advancement opportunities is that, whenever possible, we promote from within. This creates a natural progression for employees and motivates the right behavior.
All training is done internally in the interest of promoting and leveraging our culture. We do weekly engineering training for all engineers and regular sales training for all salespeople. These trainings are either conducted by internal management or by individual employees as a development effort.
Netreo pays 100% of PPO medical and dental for our employees, and has had this policy in place long before the ‘Affordable Care Act’ was put in place. We also pay 50% of the cost for their spouses and families.
In the past we have paid tuition for employee MBA programs, we also sponsored and paid for permanent work visas.
Community service/charitable causes:
He also volunteers at UCI’s Applied Innovation, SDSU’s Zahn Incubation Center, and the SDSU Lavin Entrepreneurship Center. Our engineering teams use interns from local colleges and high schools as well.
Netreo’s management team does a lot of ‘give-back’ work with the local schools and colleges
Specifically, our CEO helps run the Butterworth Software Competition at UCI every year, and has done so since its inception 13 years ago.
CEO supports at UCI’s Applied Innovation, SDSU’s Zahn Incubation Center, and the SDSU Lavin Entrepreneurship Center
No tools, we do it the old fashioned way: we talk to them. Regular one-on-ones, training, group meals, all-hands-on company town-hall meetings, etc. These give them a chance to share input and ideas in a way no survey or focus group can. Ultimately however the measure is employee turnover, which for us here at Netreo is well below 5% – a fraction of what most comparable companies achieve.
Creative meeting places:
When the schedule permits, we try to do a company camping trip retreat each summer for a few days. It gives us a chance to reconnect offline and bond as a team. We also bring all of the employees to Las Vegas every couple years to attend Interop as a team. This includes hotel stay, dinners, and teaming events. We constantly upload and display pictures from our various events on our AppleTV to help build on our unique culture.
Wednesday lunchtime engineering trainings happen each week, and we bring in a nice lunch for them.
We also have a large meeting area with a bar/podium in the center, we keep that stocked with soft drinks that the employees have full access to. The bar is actually fully stocked, so after hours if they wish to have a beer and fire up the TV they are welcome to do so.
The gymnasium has already been mentioned; in addition to that we have a rec room with an air hockey table that they are welcome to enjoy whenever they like. Sometimes we’ll get a spontaneous game of Frisbee or Nerf Football going in the office for fun.
During NCAA March Madness, we setup an office pool and had the games playing on our TVs for the entire event!
We are a software company; so we built our own fully integrated internal tools to manage sales opportunities, existing customer support, job billing, etc. They are all network-aware, so as peers update data-points it populates to everyone else in real time. This keeps us all efficient and on the same page.
How corporate vision is communicated:
We do a regular, all-hands-on meeting on the first Thursday of every month. This is done in a town hall format, and again all attendees are encouraged to ask questions and interact. During these meetings we cover company financial performance, upcoming goals and initiatives, and our vision and corporate direction. Assuming we made our goal for the month prior, everyone in the room gets a substantial cash bonus. When we have made our goal for the entire quarter prior, this bonus doubles quarterly throughout the year. As we have made our goal for 16 consecutive months, this is something all of the employees look forward to, and provided we ‘run the table’ and continue to make every goal throughout the year, in the final quarter the amount is $800 per employee!
At the start of each year, we do a longer, more comprehensive annual kickoff as well. Individual teams break out afterwards drill down into their specific areas of focus.
Employees are told to take care of the customer, no matter what. If there is a customer-facing or affecting judgment call that is required, make it in the favor of the customer and do the right thing.
Examples are support levels for customers. If a customer that is on a lower (Standard) support tier that calls in with a question or request normally tied to higher (Premier) level support, just take care of them. Or, if a customer has an outage and is in a crisis mode, drop everything and look after them – don’t stop to ask questions about support entitlements, just make the call and get them up and running again. Obviously this has to be within reason, but this doesn’t tend to get abused, and in almost all situations we just do what’s right by the customer. Support-level engineers are consistently reminded of this.
This happens every day. As mentioned, our team is focused on (and bonused on) the company achieving our revenue goals each month. So toward the end of last month, we were a bit short of our goal and I called the Account Managers together to come up with a plan to make up the shortfall. Each of them got back to me with a specific, personal plan to bring in revenue and enable us to attain our target, and ultimately on the last day of the month we hit it! Again, this represented our 16th month in a row of hitting aggressive revenue targets with 35% growth embedded into them.
Everyone has a voice and is encouraged to use it. ALL Netreo meetings are interactive – participants are encouraged to speak up, ultimately this drives discussion, debate and collaboration, which in turn drives change. We want (and expect) our employees to have their own ideas and opinions.
Also, everyone in the company practices an open-door policy. Ad-hoc meetings are common, employees are encouraged to pop in on peers and managers to discuss issues in real-time.
Again, as has been conveyed throughout this questionnaire, our theme as a company is teamwork and collaboration, and the entire company is geared this way. Constant, ad-hoc meetings to address key issues before they are allowed to fester, open dialog, and mutual respect are the norm.
Netreo’s employees are expected to work hard, but we avoid posting or tracking hours and prefer to use the honor system. If an employee has a specific need to work different hours for a period of time, perhaps they are coaching a sports team or something of that nature; we will always gladly work around this. Our philosophy is that we want balanced employees that are happy to be working with us.
Within reason, yes they can. If they need to come in later for any reason on a particular day, this is not a problem. As far as vacation policy: We don’t track it at all. Our process is simple: Ask for the time off, and have fun. If the privilege were being abused (which it never has been), we would deal with that. If you hire the right people, and trust them, you don’t need to sit around building out policies.
Our office has a full gym that can be used by employees whenever they like (two of our employees had a running 2-week chin-up competition recently). Ultimately, this helps them blow off steam and manage stress.
Also, as mentioned before employees are encouraged to maintain active lives outside of Netreo – in the community, with their families, etc. If they want to leave early or take a day off to attend their kid’s school event, no problem. If they want to join a board or other organization that will require them to miss some work, no problem. Continuing education – no problem. Ultimately, work/life balanced employee stay with us and are more productive.
Again, by sitting down and listening to them. We lead by example and are always in the trenches with them. Feeling their concerns and issues first-hand and unfiltered.
The configuration of the office is one massive rectangular room with offices, gym, rec room, kitchen, and conference room on the perimeter. This promotes open dialog, frequent collaboration, and constant interaction. We have a central sound system that plays Apple Radio, and employees are welcome to select whatever channel / music genre they like. The speakers drive music throughout the entire building. Large screen, flat panel TVs are mounted in a few spots, so if there is an important sporting event (such as the NCAA March Madness event mentioned before) they are welcome to turn it on.
The three owners of the company are the original founders that started the company in a garage 16 years ago. We actually worked together for 5 years prior to doing this, so together that is 21 years of experience working with one another. Our average tenure across all employees is 6.07 years, with our highest tenured employees having been her for 12 or 13 years.
A key perk: any employee that sticks with us for 5 years get to go on a dream trip, most anywhere they want to go on the planet, with a significant other. Specific examples are Japan, Ireland, Germany, and Mediterranean cruise.
As a result, turnover is well under 5%.
Closing company statements: It’s a fun, positive, collaborative environment whereby your voice will be heard, and you are in a position to make a huge impact. We have been cash-flow positive for all 16 years in business, our customer base includes companies like Wells Fargo, SpaceX, Broadcom and the University of California, and we have NEVER laid off an employee – so they can have the confidence of knowing we will make payroll and their job will be safe as long as they contribute. Our benefits package (100% of medical/dental, 401(k) with full matching, and unlimited vacation) is important to mention, and the five-year trip mentioned above is always fun to talk about as well.
Here is the key though: talk to our other employees. We’ll pay for you to go to lunch with them and pick their brain, make sure you know in an unfiltered way what it is like on the inside here. This is in our best interest, because we want all candidates to come in with their eyes wide open.