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You’ve Got Culture Right If You Are Afraid of Losing It

Dig is a happy place. That doesn’t mean that everyone is happy all the time. It doesn’t mean that sometimes long hours don’t happen, and that work-life balance isn’t a constant battle. It certainly doesn’t mean we can’t still improve!

However, on balance, people are happier here than they have been elsewhere. How do we know? Regular satisfaction surveys, Glassdoor reviews, and open feedback let us know that we have stayed as true as we can to the values we subscribe to as a company. 

Maybe the most telling indicator though is the fear we have of losing our culture. That fear permeates a lot of our feedback and discussions. When do youreally know that you have something valuable? When you are afraid of losing it!

The way that fear often gets voiced is when we talk about growth. That’s because we are growing - fast! How fast? Less than three years ago, two dozen of us moved into our current office. Today, we number 85!

The Challenge and Our Solutions

“How do we protect our culture when we are growing so fast?” 

It’s a valid question and a challenge we are facing head-on. The good news is we are optimistic that we can do it. Why?

Below are a few lessons we have learned over the last nine years:

1. You have to prove you care; not just say it. If someone at Dig wants to talk, we make it a priority to make ourselves available. If someone has a personal problem, we do whatever we can to help. If someone makes a mistake, we help them fix it, not make them feel worse.

2. You have to trust everyone. This means putting trust in everyone’s ideas and opinions as being valid contributions to the company. It also includes trusting people to be responsible with our unlimited vacation time policy, and the ability to work from home. It also includes making our employees responsible to each other, not just us. They know they are part of a team and if someone doesn’t contribute, their co-workers suffer. This is also a point where we step-in.

3. You have to step up and put your money where your mouth is. Subsidized gym membership, a premium Spotify account, and credit towards new headphones. Fun events — both big (Blue Jays and VR gaming) and small (bubble soccer, ice cream, and game nights). We provide a range of free snacks, drinks, and financial recognition. Financial recognition is key. We try to be proactive about raises and promotions. When times have been particularly good, we have shown appreciation with gifts and even bonuses that weren’t contractually required.

4. You have to explain why you make decisions, not just what the decisions are. Not everyone will agree with every choice we make. We have made mistakes too. However, explaining the rationale for those decisions, and outlining what we are trying to achieve is important in building trust. They still may disagree, but at least if they can agree that the desired outcome is a worthy goal, they will be more likely to give it a try.

5. You have to actually listen. We don’t dismiss feedback from any level or any length of tenure. For example, our employees told us they wanted more formalized training, so we hired a Manager of Employee Success, who holds regular training sessions. In addition, we built a support website that explains our methodologies and tools, one that we continuously update. Team members from all levels have helped to develop the training resources. We also provide each employee with up to $1500 a year in tuition reimbursement for courses that are work-related and consistent with the employee's career plans. Our employees noted that office space was getting tight. Despite another 4000 square feet becoming available this summer, we signed a temporary lease on another floor to address the concern ASAP. We can’t always fix every concern - but we always listen.

6. Finally, and counterintuitively, you have to grow. This is the most confusing lesson we have learned. Despite our fears and reservations, the most important way to keep our culture great is to give people the means to improve their careers by staying at Dig. With growth, we can continue to recognize and promote high performers. Growth provides us the means to try new things and provide people with new challenges. What we have learned is that everyone wants to grow in their careers and lives. We can only help them do that if the company is growing too.

Above are only some examples of how we protect our culture. These aren’t all of the lessons we have learned, but these are some of the big ones. The main thing for us is to make culture a priority. Ultimately, Dig’s culture is pretty simple. We want to be a place where we genuinely care about each other, and the work we do. We think that’s a culture worth protecting.