How Hootsuite Used Company Culture to Thrive
June 22, 2015
If someone asked you about the culture in your company, what would you say? And no, Casual Fridays do not constitute culture, nor do Wine Wednesdays (though, they don’t hurt!).
Culture is part of your company’s genetic code; it is embodied in its vision and values. Culture attracts likeminded talent - and keeps it. Building a positive culture is becoming increasingly important for companies today, with many HR leaders beginning to sit up and take notice as the battle for talent continues to rage.
Staying well ahead of the curb is Ambrosia Vertesi, Global VP of Talent, Hootsuite. Hootsuite has soared from a start-up to a global leader in social media in a matter of years, and Ambrosia has played an instrumental role in advocating and instilling the authentic and attractive culture that has helped the company get there.
In the interview below, she shares us how telling a genuine story, connecting global offices through a common culture, and using a consistent narrative has helped them attract and retain the right talent.
Q: What does culture mean to Hootsuite and how has it shaped the business?
Ambrosia: At Hootsuite, we define culture as who we are and how we get things done – it’s as simple as that. Our culture is a manifestation of our values and we feel that living by our values will in turn build our culture. It’s how we tell our story and it’s permeated through everything we do.
Our employees can relate to this value proposition, which is the basis of its success. 70% of our culture-building initiatives are run by our employees, and it is this ownership and genuine belief in both our values and story that enable our culture to be successful.
We have a socially sourced cultural manifesto, built in collaboration with our employees. It’s imperative to find a narrative that empowers and engages your employees, so you should include them in the journey.
Q: Why is culture critical to attracting and retaining talent?
Ambrosia: Hootsuite is based in Vancouver, Canada, which for a tech company can seem less attractive to applicants who may prefer to work in Silicon Valley. However, even with the challenge of distance, we manage to entice talent based on our strong culture and employer brand.
Our culture defines who we are as a company, and we need to make sure that we’re speaking the same language as the people who work with us, and the people we want to work with us.
We’re constantly building and innovating culture in order to make employees our brand ambassadors and find talent that is aligned with our values. Our culture has enabled us to develop a strong employer brand and that helps us engage talent. It’s helped us build a team that is fully invested in our company which means greater commitment and motivation, and most importantly, less costly turnover.
Q: Hootsuite has offices across 12 countries. How do you ensure that your culture is both globally and locally relevant?
Ambrosia: Right now at Hootsuite the focus is globalisation, sending out a highly localised message that resonates with people across our global offices – but we can’t be purely HQ-centric. We are in a really good stride but we’re still learning as the company continues to grow.
One way we’ve successfully shared our culture globally was through an employee-led initiative called "Follow the Sun". We used Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming app, to enable our employees to tell a global story starting in Singapore and then travelling through our 12 offices. In each market a team member shared a narrative that gave insight into their world from the perspective of an employee. ‘Follow the Sun’ led to a 10% increase in job applications and garnered thousands of views on social media.
It is clear that culture is fundamental to the success and sustainability of any business. Employees who come to work sharing the same values and a common purpose are happier and more productive. They deliver stronger business results, stay with the company longer, and are more likely to recommend the company to others. In today’s knowledge economy, companies need to keep their culture front and centre in order to stay ahead of the game.
To learn more about building a strong and sustainable culture in your workplace, check out our five simple tips by downloading the e-book ‘5 Ways To Build Culture In Your Company.’