People First, Employees Second

August 3, 2016

Blog | Culture | People First, Employees Second

Our Golden Rule: “We are people first, employees second.”

It’s certainly not groundbreaking, it’s actually quite simple, but there’s no question much of our success here at GeekHive lies in the fact that these are not just words.  These are my marching orders and for any HR person coming from a corporate background you know what a gift this is!

To really illustrate what I mean, let me start by telling you my GeekHive story. It’s deeply personal but shows the heart that this organization has.

I’ll never forget how excited I was to get the position at GeekHive – it was perfect.  I had  two young boys and was eager to turn my HR brain on again. Within weeks of starting my new position at GeekHive the unexpected happened…

“Peter, I have something to tell you…I just found out that Tom and I are expecting… again…. and as your HR person I need you to know that you have every right to fire me.”   

A moment of pause then…

“Are you kidding me Noreen – I couldn’t be happier!”  Peter gave me the biggest hug and said, “always remember – we are people first, employees second. I’m thrilled for you guys.”

Coming from a world where I had to pretend my first born was a “food baby”  for 5 months – I just started to cry and knew I had found a home. 8 years later, I’m still here, and still just as happy with my decision to leave the corporate world behind and become a Geek.

I’m sure every one of my Geeks has a story like this to tell judging by our virtually non-existent turnover rate (which says a  lot in this competitive market). I know companies claim it, many strive for it, but we live it and my goal every year is the same –  don’t ruin a good thing, no matter how big we get.

So how do we do that?  Simple – indulge our team’s passion for their work and recognize that their life outside this office is just as important as inside the office.

They are people first – employees second.

How do we ensure this? We follow the 7 Principles below.

7 Principles of Being a Geek:

Balance: Don’t offer – insist – on a work-life balance.  Sure, we all have times where a project is launching and maybe we’re in the grind, but that is our exception, not our rule.  On the rare occasion that we find that the work isn’t letting up we look at resources, staffing, whatever we need to do to restore a busy, but manageable workload.  Get your vacation in, go to your niece’s school play, turn your phone off – recharge and enjoy all that you work for.

Transparency: No secrets – we are as transparent as you can get. Probably the biggest culture shock for me was the introduction of open books management. Here there is no crazy calculation and no secret “funding number,” if we meet our pre-established goals each quarter, everyone gets paid the earned bonus.  That simple.  All finances are reviewed twice a month with the entire staff so we know exactly what to expect each quarter.  Funny how real it gets when your first mortgage statement arrives.

Appreciation: Always be aware and appreciative of what you have.  We constantly recognize, and are thankful to, our staff for all that they do.   We know all of our success comes from us working as a team and everyone is a part of that.  We just launched a “Random Acts of Appreciation” program that allows staff to nominate each other for a little something special, but there’s a catch, the gift or reward has to be personal and thoughtful.  We’ve seen everything from gift certificates for a carb-load pre-race dinner to an apartment cleaning.  We are not just thankful for what you do – we appreciate who you are.

Growth: Recognize that just as a company grows and hits milestones so does our staff.  When our staff started coming upon big life events (buying houses, starting families) we asked, what would support them through each life phase as their needs changed?  We created career paths, revamped our entire health and welfare benefit offering, ensure our growth is well planned and sustainable company-wide, and opened our books to take the worry away.

Expansion: We are thoughtful in our hiring approach to ensure solid skills AND solid fit. Building our team has been a very long process, we don’t settle or compromise in our hiring standards. It’s not easy but we aren’t in the business of hiring people to fill seats. As a result, we’ve built an amazingly strong team over the years through our strategic hiring process.

Opportunity: Indulge our Geekiness. We provide a place where Geeks are at home… being geeks.  Many of the Geeks chose development because it’s not a job – it’s a passion.  We indulge our geekiness with cool projects, unique challenges, and high profile clients.  If you’re interested in a new technology, you’re supported to go for it!

Environment: It’s okay to have fun at work.  You have no idea how therapeutic a mid-day nerf war can be….  We play dodgeball, we go hiking, have chili cook-offs, and host a beer club.  We enjoy each other’s company and constantly seek out new and fun ways to enjoy a night out.  Wait until our new offices are open!  Together we designed the perfect space that encourages creativity, collaboration, and fun all with a rustic industrial edge.

You see, it is just that simple, we are all just people first, employees second.  And when we work as hard as we do to ensure that we recognize and encourage people to thrive in their lives outside of the hive as well as inside of it….it drives people to work harder to succeed and builds a sense of loyalty and commitment to the company that helps us to thrive.

If you’re interested in becoming a Geek, check out our career page for open positions.

Noreen Condon, Director of HR, GeekHive

Noreen Condon

Director of Human Resources
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