Inc. Magazine recently revealed their “Best Workplaces 2018” list, and Convene was thrilled to be one of the employers on that list. Building a great workplace doesn’t happen on accident, and no one knows that better than Convene’s SVP of People and Culture Siobhan O’Leary.
Siobhan sat down to discuss the results of the survey—what’s she’s most proud of, and where we can still improve—with managing editor Andrew Littlefield. Take a listen below!
Andrew Littlefield: This week, Inc Magazine introduced their 2018 Best Workplaces awards and Convene was very honored to be named as one of those workplaces. I’m joined today by SVP of People and Culture at Convene, Siobhan O’Leary. How are you doing this morning, Siobhan?
Siobhan O’Leary: I’m great, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew: I’m good! So we are looking at the results of the survey and I wanted to highlight a few things that are really important to us. And one of the things that jumped out was the intergenerational nature of Convene’s workforce.
Siobhan: It was really interesting that we have five generations represented in our organization that’s now at a little over 400 people. And within those five generations, the satisfaction was consistent. They range from 88% to 95% within those generations.
Andrew: Yeah. I imagine you see a lot of workplaces these days that are either very geared towards a young generation with ping pong tables or bean bag chairs in the lounge or very traditional companies that young people don’t want to work for. How do you think we’ve struck a balance between being a place that someone straight out of college feels excited to work at and someone who’s in the later stage of their career still enjoys?
Siobhan: I think we strike that balance with our purpose and our purpose is to integrate what people value and why they come to work and that they are contributing and they feel like they can make a difference. We have a coach program in place for those people that want to grow their career or grow their leadership at any level in the organization. I also think how we’ve struck that balance is just by the diverse makeup of our workforce in terms of the professions that we have on staff. And it’s what our product is, right? Our product is integrating a professional work life with how we wanna work now in all of our generations. So what we’re doing for our client is what we’re trying to do internally also.
Andrew: Yeah. I think I can speak to that personally just coming from a tech company background where everyone was in their 20s or young 30s and then coming here where there was a much larger range. It took a while for me to get used to that, but what I noticed was that there was a lot of reciprocity of respect between the two where the younger workers at Convene really valued what people later in their career had to say. But that was also reflected back where older workers really valued a fresh perspective from the younger workers too. I never felt an animosity or tension between those two groups.
Siobhan: Exactly. And we do hear that from our team and we see it in the comments on our survey also.
Andrew: Something else we found in the survey was the words people used to describe working at Convene. What was the number one thing?
Siobhan: The number one word was fun! And again, who doesn’t love that? I think if we can create fun and productivity, then we must be doing something right. And we focus on it, it isn’t a guesswork game. We focus on if people enjoy their work here, they’re certainly gonna be more productive and we’re gonna be a more successful organization.
Andrew: Something else people reported was that they felt very valued. What does that mean to us?
Siobhan: You know, this is, from early on, a focus point of Chris and Ryan in how they wanted to create the culture. We want people to feel like they’re contributing to our success and their success. And the more value they feel, the more engaged and the easier they can make decisions and affect our client experience.
Andrew: Another thing we saw was that 98% of employees reported confidence in the leadership of the organization. Is that correct?
Siobhan: Not just in the leadership but in the confidence that the company would be successful in the future, which goes a little bit further. That, when you’re a small high-growth company, that statistic is a tremendous recruiter for us as we’re building out our verticals.
Andrew: You mentioned growth. Since I have been at Convene in just six months, my team has doubled. How have the scores changed from previous years to this year as we’ve grown?
Siobhan: Funny you should ask because that was my daunting thought as we were doing this survey. We doubled in size over the last year like you said, yet our scores went up by four percentage points. It was just terrific. It’s a terrific validation of the focus and the commitment we have to our internal team from a learning and development perspective and just our relentless approach to our culture and that our culture is the gatekeeper for all.
Andrew: What do you think is an area that we can improve on in the next 12 months?
Siobhan: Yeah, there’s plenty we can improve on. Nobody is perfect. Probably every single person on earth would say they want to be paid more but regardless of that fact, we do have an opportunity to look at what our pay structure is and we’re aware of that, so we have to continue that commitment to them and to ourselves to keep going like we’re going and make strides where we can. I think some other areas that we can probably improve on are our communication structure as we grow. And I’m sure every organization could say this, but it’s something we’re diligently working on. What’s our communication architecture so that we can get more information out from the decision makers into the field?
Andrew: As someone whose personal job it is to oversee the culture at Convene, what does it mean to see these kind of results in the survey?
Siobhan: It’s just incredible. It’s such a gift. I was humbled by these results, I was thrilled of course, but humbled because it’s not one person, you know, it’s every single person’s role to protect our culture and our values and keep our environment this satisfying for other people. And we always say that we have to play offense and defense for our culture, and this just solidifies that everyone’s doing it and they care enough to do it. That’s just tremendous to me. It was real humbling. It was really exciting.
Andrew: Inc Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2018 is out and you will find Convene on that list. She is Siobhan O’Leary, SVP of People and Culture at Convene. Thanks for joining.
Siobhan: Thanks, Andrew!