It’s one thing to keep employees happy on the job. It’s another to do it at the same time your company is quadrupling in size.
BambooHR, a Lindon-based provider of human-resources management software for small and medium business, has ranked high all six years of The Salt Lake Tribune’s Top Workplaces survey — but with that twist.
In 2014, BambooHR finished first and, the next year, ended up third among the top three small companies, when it had between 80 and 125 employees. It was then ranked second or third each year from 2016 to 2018 as it grew into a midsize firm with between 188 and 346 workers.
This year, the company that started in a 10-foot-by-10-foot cubicle in 2008 with two people is now the survey’s No. 1 Top Workplace among large employers, with 470 employees.
Business experts say that being consistent in a message to workers while scaling a company that fast is not easy. Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Ryan Sanders said BambooHR has done it by applying the same tools and approaches to managing its own workforce that it provides to nearly 11,000 customer firms.
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The concept, Sanders said, is to “help people do their best. Get out of the way and let the employees do great work.”
BambooHR seeks to hire people with that in mind and chooses prospects who are willing to be humble and work hard, Sanders said. The company mission is clearly defined to new employees as they come on board, he said, and becomes a “constant drumbeat” from top executives and line managers.
“It's funny because there have been times over the 11 years that it feels like I'm just a broken record and people are tired of hearing those things,” Sanders said. But that steady repetition in the workplace, he said, “is what keeps it alive.”
In survey interviews, BambooHR employees repeatedly mentioned feeling valued and being given flexibility to do their jobs.
“The company shares the same values as I do and I feel like I have the opportunity to change the world around me for the better,” one worker said.
Said another: “The culture is REAL. They actually walk the walk and understand you need to take care of people.”
BambooHR recently hired a new CEO after co-founder and former company head Ben Peterson moved out of that role to focus on strategic oversight and direction for the company as a co-chairman, with Sanders, of the BambooHR board of directors.
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New CEO Brad Rencher, formerly a top marketing executive at software giant Adobe in Lehi, joined BambooHR in mid-October.
In an interview, Rencher said his move was a sign of how Utah’s technology sector has grown more robust through the years, allowing executives to remain in the state as their careers advance instead of moving on to larger markets.
He said Utah’s concentration of tech companies, many of them centered on Silicon Slopes along Interstate 15, has now reached a critical mass of entrepreneurs, with a significant base of talented workers and emerging leaders.
“There's a depth and breadth to the quality of the companies here that is really exciting,” Rencher said
Some seven days at his new job, Rencher began asking members of BambooHR’s workforce what they loved about the company. He said was “blown away by the consistency of the answers.
“It’s the culture,” he said.
“How do you build a winning culture?” Rencher asked. “Well, you build it to where if you weren’t the founder or a leader, if you were an engineer or product manager or someone in sales, you’d still want to come to work every day and you’d love it.”