What if you could work on any project you wanted with anyone at your company, and shape the company’s destiny together? That’s exactly what Senior Brand Strategist Phil Gross set out to accomplish last January with Terakeet’s first annual Entrepreneurship Day. Similar to the initiatives of other companies, like Atlassian’s Ship-It Days, Entrepreneurship Day is meant to cultivate innovative ideas that push our business forward.
After acquiring support for the hackathon-style, 24-hour event, Gross assembled a small team to support, build excitement for, and eventually launch Entrepreneurship Day. The event was teased to the company for several weeks under the moniker Project 2829, hinting at the event date (January 28-29, 2016). The event was well-received by employees, and our office is currently bubbling with excitement for its second iteration.
Terakeet’s Entrepreneurship Day
While the winner of the event gets some bragging rights, Director of Human Resources Jennifer Thornton says the focal point of Entrepreneurship Day isn’t the competition, but the spirit of community.
“Regardless of who wins, we also leave the day advancing conversations around all of the ideas to further explore their viability,” Thornton said. “Selecting an overall winner is part of the day, but we can’t ignore other ideas that may positively impact the company, our customers, and our employees.”
For example, one idea from last year’s event didn’t take home the top prize but still came to fruition: Terakeet’s Flexible Work Arrangement policy. The project was initiated by Senior Brand Strategist Christine Stoddard (now a Brand Strategy Supervisor), proving any employee can impact Terakeet.
Stoddard says the impetus for the Flexible Work Arrangement idea was a conversation with her father about their respective workplaces.
“It came from the idea of making Terakeet an even better place to work since we look for creativity in our people,” Stoddard said. “This would allow people to work at times they are most productive and allow them to be more creative. After talking it out with a few other people, they thought it would be a nice benefit and that it would fit well with the unique culture we had at Terakeet. It would also help as a retention and recruiting tool. I asked a few people to join my team and we moved forward with the idea.”
Hiring and Retaining Top Talent
A lot of companies struggle to hire and retain top talent, and Terakeet has dedicated significant resources toward improving retention in 2016. Growing top talent is something Director of Recruiting Brenna Bastian says is bolstered by providing employees benefits other companies don’t currently have.
“The Flexible Work Arrangement is now an additional selling benefit,” Bastian explained. “Professional development and a work-life balance are very important to both potential and current employees. This new benefit is another way for us to invest in our people.”
Thornton agreed, adding that Terakeet is always trying to maintain an advantage over others.
“We do look at industry standards and what other places are offering, it would be foolish not to,” Thornton said. “At the same time, we want to consider what is going to resonate with our unique team the most.”
The Importance of the Beta Test
Presenting a unique idea in front of your colleagues and company is no easy feat. Stoddard presented the project several times and was constantly tweaking her presentation to improve it.
“After the Entrepreneurship Day presentation, I attended three meetings with leadership before we decided to implement a beta,” Stoddard explained. The beta test was an important step to bring such a radical change to light.
Thornton agrees, stating, “The beta test was really important because we could have come up with a very conservative program that protected against the potential issues we were worried about. The problem with that is, our fears might never have been realized, inadvertently shortchanging our team.”
In other words, sometimes you just have to take a chance and trust that your employees want to do good. Aging workforces primarily operated on the principle of fear and following what the boss said. We’re paving the way towards empowering our workforce to work when they are most productive. It all boils down to creating and instilling leadership and making an impact at every level of the company.
Terakeet’s Flexible Work Arrangement
Terakeet’s current Flexible Work Arrangement policy is one where work can be done onsite or offsite during any hours, though there are a few caveats in place. Mandatory meeting times and special requests of supervisors must be adhered to. As long as you’re meeting internal and external customer objectives while being cognizant of customer time-zone differences, you’re in control of your day, week, and month.
Bastian noted the unfettered autonomy given to employees is something few other employers are currently able to provide.
“I can say with confidence already that it’s going to be an incredible retention tool for us,” Bastian said. There’s a huge focus on growing stronger together and retaining our top talent. We’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to keep our best people.”
Entrepreneurship Day Was Instrumental
When asked whether the idea of a flexible work arrangement would have been implemented if it weren’t for Entrepreneurship Day, Bastian said, “I do think our founders and leadership have always strived to have a place where people want to come to work every single day. At some point, it would have probably been brought up, but now we are competing with some of the best places to work in the country.”
As Thornton further points out, Entrepreneurship Day represents core elements of our company. “One, as a team, we have to regularly communicate and share information about our ongoing needs and challenges. Two, we have to constantly evaluate what we’re doing and whether or not it continues to meet the evolving needs of our customers, our team, and the community. And three, we need to be brave with our thoughts and ideas — to share them and listen to one another — so that each member of the team has a real opportunity to make us a better company tomorrow than we are today.”
After the success of last year, Terakeet leadership has vowed to continue running and supporting Entrepreneurship Day. It’s built into our values, vision, and future success. This year’s event is on February 9th and 10th and we can’t wait to see people’s newest ideas.
Entrepreneurship Day 2017
Any Terakeet employee who has an idea, no matter how big or small, can assemble or join an existing team for this year’s Entrepreneurship Day. One idea, conversation, or plan could dramatically impact our company and what we’re doing over the next month, quarter, or year.
“A lot of times people will talk about things they want in small pockets, but never have the courage to come forward and say anything about it,” says Stoddard. “When I have an idea now, I’m not afraid to try or bring it forward.”
As of today, there are seven teams assembled for Thursday and Friday’s event. We’re excited to see what’s next, so stay tuned!