This week, in our new blog series Culture Collective, we sat down with the Employee Experience Manager at Knotch, Alex Batson. Alex is passionate about working with people and creating memorable experiences. Originally from Montclair, New Jersey, he currently lives in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. Alex is a big Knicks and Giants fan and loves the outdoors. Read more, below.
What are three words you would use to describe your workplace culture? Explain.
The first word I would use is inclusive, in that we make sure every employee is included in all activities held both in and outside of the office. We are also transparent. Teams are always very clear and open about projects they’re working on, what they’ve accomplished, what needs to be done in the future, and whatever hold ups there are. The third thing I would say is we have a holistic workplace culture. The benefits we provide take care of our employees both inside and outside of the office. We really care about when our employees are here and when they’re not here, that they’re in a good mental place and that they come ready to work every day. We really look out for them in every way we can.
What is your office superpower?
I would say my office superpower is spreading positivity and also just inspiring people to embrace the time they spend at Knotch.
Why is company culture important?
A company’s success is largely due in part to the productive workflow and happiness of its employees. So, establishing a culture both in and outside of the office that every employee can embrace is important. Creating a fun, engaging and well-rounded work environment is not just important, but it’s a vital aspect to every company culture. A great company culture should motivate employees to work hard, engage with coworkers and, most importantly, be happy at work.
What does your team normally do for lunch?
We have a $15 stipend that can be spent or we have a $15 Seamless and Caviar credit which can be used. So, if you don’t want to put something on your own card and get money back a few days later, employees are encouraged to use a $15 credit on Seamless or Caviar, which we have allocated five days a week. People generally eat in and outside of the office with each other or by themselves, depending on how busy their day is. People from different teams are friends, so sometimes they’ll go out together to catch up and talk about what they’re both working on. Or, if your day is busy as heck and you don’t have time to leave the office, Seamless and Caviar are there to bring you your lunch. We also have bagels once a week and new hire lunches on Fridays. So, if a new hire starts on Monday or Tuesday, on Friday we will add a catered lunch and do a fun, 20-questions type thing to get to know them a little better. That, with some fun, healthy food options is a nice way for someone that’s been hired to feel embraced and a part of the company.
What are ways your company brings your team together?
We have weekly team meetings. Our team leader announces what we are working on on Mondays during our “Ring of Fire” stand up. Each team lead will share for a minute or two what the week is looking like for them and their team. And then on Fridays, we have show and tell so we’ll go over the accomplishments of the week — what was done, what we’re still working on, and what help we could use from other people in the company towards whatever goals we’re working on.
With regards to the way the company brings all of its employees together, we have bi-annual company off-sites. We went to Miami in February. We’re going to New Orleans in October. We have happy hour throughout the year. We also have events with our culture club. Culture club has a $50 stipend per person, per month to use on an event. We’ll do picnics in Central Park, bowling, interactive ceramic classes, karaoke and the list goes on. A lot of those events have alcohol involved, but we also have an emphasis on doing events that don’t involve drinking. I’m in the process of planning a boutique spin class for our company. It’s going to be nice to have an event focused on health and activity and then we’ll probably drink smoothies and juices after. So, there are multiple ways in which the company brings each team together and all teams together as well.
If you could propose an idea to positively impact any company’s culture, what would it be and why? What is your advice to help improve company culture?
I would say to have a structured on-boarding process. It’s important to make sure an employee’s first day is as seamless as possible. You want to set up as much as you can ahead of time, whether it’s accounts, private groups, slack channels, shared docs and benefits, you want to make that new hire really appreciate the company they are now apart of by the end of the first day. They should also have a full understanding of what their new company culture is going to be like.
Create multiple stipends. Create stipends for transportation, for lunch, for business travel, mental and physical health, and learning and development. Anything that would help further and better you to succeed in your role. People don’t want to pay for everything out of pocket that they do in and outside of the office. Companies providing money for that or stipends is very much appreciated.