If you think your company’s culture takes a back seat compared to the ostensibly more pressing issues of meeting shipping deadlines and putting out customer fires, consider this: in the six years it has been around, just four people have voluntarily parted ways with buzzy sock innovator Bombas, whose headcount numbers around 100.
To be sure, startup direct-to-consumer brands have a leg up on enterprise incumbents when it comes to creating a holistic employee-centric culture. But Bombas is based on the notion of giving back not just by donating millions of pairs of socks to the homeless but also by supporting workers in seemingly radical ways—with even bigger dreams for what its culture can be in the future, co-founder and CEO David Heath shared at The Lead Innovation Summit 2019 in Brooklyn Tuesday.
Recruiting top-tier talent is next to impossible if you nickel and dime employees over paid time off and flexible hours and schedules. Rather than expecting prospects to be grateful to work for you, companies need to flip their mindset, said Heath, and adopt an attitude that shows how happy you are to have such an amazing talent decide to share their expertise with you—because “the best talent always has options.”
Offering perks now standard to startups like unlimited time off and unrestrained flexibility to work remotely, Bombas believes treating employees well pays tremendous dividends. If you value the life that your workforce maintains outside the company, Heath said, then employees will value their role within the brand and their output will reflect that. The brightest and most talented professionals thrive on feeling fulfilled, he added, indicating that subpar workers will quickly sputter in an innovative future-forward culture that fosters independence, ideas and hard work.
While some companies might balk at the idea of lifting the limits on how much time workers can stay away from the job, what Bombas has discovered is actually the polar opposite of people abusing this generous policy.
The startup monitors PTO stats not to try to “catch” someone taking advantage, Heath said, but to ensure people are in fact unplugging from the job as recommended. Demonstrating its commitment to employee well-being, Bombas has gifted an employee $2,000 to fund a vacation that was perhaps holding them back from requesting the time off, Heath added.
Though Bombas’s culture is already packed with perks, Heath has even bigger visions for the future.
Benefits are typically a cookie-cutter affair for every full-time employee but Heath sees the value in crafting a “suite of offerings” that meets individual needs. Because employees in different life stages and situations might not appreciate benefits that are of little use to them, Bombas wants to be able to offer an expectant mom the postpartum time off she needs to spend with a new baby, for example, and allow a new pet parent to take a couple weeks to soften the transition.
Even more noteworthy: Heath’s concept of building a plan to give employees burdened beneath staggering student loans a way to pay off that debt.
For now, Bombas abides by the seemingly smaller “rules” that add up to a culture of appreciation, like instituting a ban on emails sent after 7 p.m. or on weekends (save among the founders themselves).
“Culture,” as Heath put it,” is defined by the heartbeat of the organization.”