August 4, 2016

The True Driver of Company Culture and Employee Engagement

Chris Forman
August 4, 2016

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When people talk about company culture in the technology startup community, the discussion quickly segues to who has the best chef, the biggest company gym, or the coolest nap pod. It’s less about company culture and more about WIFM.

While that’s all fine and good, Appcastians pride ourselves on being independent and different. We are born of New Hampshire & Belarus — the physical and cultural homes of our Founding Team.  Both of these places seem to hatch people that move to their own drum beat. While we like our coffee (Blue bottle, Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts… because nobody can frickin agree), our beer (yes, it’s on tap), our food (lunch on Friday, fruit and snacks every day), and our games (I hate to admit it… but yes, Foosball)… our motivation to show up at Appcast versus heading to Google, Facebook, or some other ‘hot’ startup isn’t driven by the ‘benefits’ package.

Here’s what makes us, and our company culture, tick.

First, we like to build things that have value for our customers AND we can see the impact of our own personal work.  I call it the ‘mowed lawn’ phenomenon. It feels good to do something that you can point at and say ‘I did that and it worked.’  I know it sounds goofy, but we are focused on doing stuff that matters and letting people see the impact of their labor.  It’s a simple concept… but incredibly motivating and rewarding.

Second, we pay people a wage that allows them to take care of their families and enjoy life.  Anyone who says ‘pay’ isn’t a key part of workplace happiness has a trust fund and is separated from the reality of life.  

Third, we work according to Harry Chapin’s philosophy (a 70’s musical troubadour), who was often quoted as saying “I play one night for myself and one night for the other guy.”  While Harry was way more generous of his time and money than we are (he gave away 50% of what he made), we have a huge focus at Appcast of ‘sharing our success.’  This isn’t some hippy commune, ‘free love’ thing… it’s a thought-out and calculated business strategy.  People want, need, and seek out purpose.  They want to know that what they are doing is valuable.  This goes for their personal work… as well as for the work of the company.

That’s why rather than spending money on massages for our employees, we are paying for monthly dinners at a local food kitchen and sponsoring a leadership program for young female athletes in high school. Rather than company sponsored lunches everyday, we are helping to build a school in the Bateyes of the Dominican Republic (with our money AND our hands).  Rather than…you get the idea.

Feeling your work matters to your clients, your family, and your community is the foundation of what we try to create. We believe it makes a stronger business and a more resolute team…kind of like the Granite in the mountains of our beloved New Hampshire or the Bison in beautiful Belarus.


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