“We make it easy”: IndustryBuilt’s slogan is one its employees can really get behind. After all, they helped write it.
Three years ago, 10 employees were given the job of brainstorming the software company’s mission statement, along with codifying its vision and values. After talking about how most software is either painful to use or just plain bad, they recommended the company’s mission focus on making easy-to-use products. Executives took the suggestion. “We could’ve had all the execs sit in a boardroom and create [the statement], but this way employees had their say in the direction the company goes,” says chief executive officer David Pilz.
The Mississauga, Ont., firm, which provides resource planning software to food and industrial equipment distributors, strives to be transparent and ensure its employees feel connected. Pilz, who founded the company in 1999, knows it’s frustrating for workers to feel left out of decision-making. So he started inviting the top 25% of his workforce to participate in a strategy kickoff day each year. They get split into three teams—each with a mix of talent, from programmers to consultants to sales reps—to devise high-level plans to drive the company forward.
This bottom-up approach keeps people around, says Pilz. Almost half of his 110 employees have stayed in the company for five years or more, which is hard to achieve in a sector that sees tempting new tech jobs multiply by the minute. “When employees are engaged in strategy creation and they see we’ve actually implemented them, it gets everyone all jazzed up,” he says.
Building a culture of engaged people gets even more complicated when 70% of your employees work remotely all over North America. To create a spirit of collaboration without a lot of face-to-face interaction, IndustryBuilt holds 10-minute scrums on Fridays over Zoom, a cloud-based video-conferencing platform. “Scrum masters” are selected at random to host the call—anyone could be chosen, even the new guy in accounts receivable. Each department shares updates, and everyone votes for the person they think deserves the spotlight for doing great work. Although brief, the scrums remind employees that they’re part of a bigger team.
Letting staff work remotely also engenders a high degree of trust. Autonomy breeds more satisfied and productive workers while allowing them to strike the right work-life balance, says Pilz.
Another bonus of having a successful remote worker program? The company isn’t restricted to hiring only those who live in close proximity to its headquarters. “Our concept is not to rally around an office,” says Pilz. “It’s to hire the best people, wherever they are in North America.”