How ‘Impact Without Resistance’ Defines Sisense’s Culture

Three leaders describe how an empowering hybrid culture enables employees to stay healthy, drive awareness and cultivate community.
Staff Writer
June 23, 2022
Staff Writer
June 23, 2022

Last summer, the leadership team at business intelligence platform Sisense reached a crucial decision after listening closely to employees’ concerns. 

Director of Global Talent Management Gina Doan remembers the discussions vividly — team members gauged the results of both an engagement survey and honest conversations with their direct reports. The main talking point: whether or not to adopt a hybrid work model for the company’s future.

“We made a data-driven decision based on what team members were asking for and what was best for them,” Doan said. “Everyone has different commitments, and we wanted to ensure that everyone felt supported.”

In the end, Sisense’s decision to adopt a hybrid working model wasn’t just a sign of the times; it was a reflection of the company’s commitment to its people. 

Yet Sisense’s hybrid embrace is far from the only example of the company’s dedication to employees’ well-being. In fact, Doan said the company’s wellness philosophy, WellSense, acts as the cornerstone for the organization’s cultural programs and initiatives, many of which are designed to improve team members’ social and physical health. 

“Were here to help each employee as a whole, so we try to make sure that all of our programs achieve this,” she said. 

 

DRIVING ANALYTICAL INNOVATION

Founded in 2004, Sisense offers an AI-driven analytics cloud platform that enables organizations to prepare, analyze and visualize large or disparate data sets. The company’s technology infuses analytics into businesses’ applications and workflows, removing the need to rely on multiple dashboards or displays to find information.

 

Holistic wellness encompasses many aspects of team members’ lives at Sisense. While work-life balance plays a significant role, relationship-building is also key to this approach, which is why the company offers numerous employee resource groups (ERGs) to bring team members together. 

As a senior people partner and co-leader of the organization’s [email protected] ERG, Mimi Mbaye said she aims to cultivate a sense of interconnectedness, which is just as important as achieving business goals. “It’s critically important to make meaningful connections while also doing important work,” she said. “I do everything I can to support that.”

For Doan, this focus on connection is bolstered by the fact that employees are encouraged to help shape the company’s culture, whether that involves organizing events to honor different heritages or having open discussions about difficult subjects. “We offer a space where people can make an impact without resistance,” she said. “If theres anything youre passionate about, the company will support you.” 

Doan, Mbaye and Global Workplace Culture and Inclusion Manager Susanna Tharakan discussed how the company has created a hybrid culture defined by wellness, awareness and community — and where Sisense is going from here.

 

 

Sisense team members working in the office
Hannah Cohen

 

What are some of the company’s current cultural initiatives, and how do these events and programs cater to both in-office and remote employees?

Mbaye: We hosted an educational event to teach employees about Juneteenth via video, trivia, spoken word performance, tons of amazing food and special cameos — including Stanely from The Office and Cedric the Entertainer. We want our employees to have fun while highlighting Black culture and amplifying voices of those within the Black community. As part of this celebration, we hosted performances at our San Francisco and New York offices. We also invited all of our employees across the globe to take part virtually. It’s been nice to see how people across the company and the world want to learn more about other heritages. For instance, during a past Black History Month celebration, we had a team member located in Israel reach out to tell us how much they learned from their experience. 

Tharakan: During our hybrid Sizzles, we introduce new hires, celebrate anniversaries and promotions, give out peer awards, play games and hand out prizes. People in the office get to take part in a happy hour, yet we also include a virtual component so everyone in North America can participate. 

Our MashUps continue to take place virtually, as the majority of our US team members are remote. These events occur three times per quarter and anyone can sign up. We also recently launched Team Thursdays, which are intended to give employees a reason to come back into the office, although in-person attendance isn’t mandatory. We provide lunch and a fun activity for those who do come in. Some examples of previous Team Thursdays include a Cinco de Mayo brunch, an ice cream social, a barbecue event and a food tour to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We’ve even had musicians come into the office to play music for us. We continually aim to find ways to weave our diversity, equity and inclusion focus into our overall employee experience, so we often incorporate ERG events into Team Thursdays. 

 

ENSURING SAFE SPACES

In an effort to foster inclusion, Sisense offers several ERGs: Queers & Allies, FamilySense, [email protected], [email protected], AAPI’s & Allies and [email protected] In line with this focus on candid conversation and community, the company also hosts “brave spaces,” which enable employees to discuss sensitive topics, such as anti-Asian hate and the Roe v. Wade case. In Tharakan’s mind, these efforts are a reflection of how the company empowers its people to drive change themselves. “It’s nice that the company never pushes back on our DEI efforts,” she said.

 

Yoga mats in cubicles in the Sisense office
Hannah Cohen

 

How does the company promote healthy work-life balance, and what benefits and initiatives support these efforts?

Mbaye: As a mother, work-life balance is important for me. I always tell prospective new hires that it’s nice to know I can be there for my child and attend their recitals or practices, and no one minds if I leave the office in the early afternoon to pick them up. Sisense allows employees to take up to two weeks once a year and then up to 5 days at any given time, while our flexible work policy enables team members to arrive at and leave the office whenever works best for them. In addition to these two policies, employees can unplug during the day by participating in HIIT and yoga classes at our onsite gym.  

Doan: Our paid parental leave policy allows employees to spend 12 weeks bonding with their newborn, and we also help new parents transition back into their roles. We want to make sure they feel supported and aren’t immediately thrown back into the daily grind after having a child. Additionally, employees have access to mental wellness benefits through our insurance and can use our employee assistance program when needed. 

Tharakan: “Coming up for air” days enable employees to take time off at the end of each quarter. We aim to center them around the holidays so that team members have a couple of extra days off. This summer, we’ll also be introducing “Summer Fridays,” which will replace our “Self-care Fridays.” Besides time off, we have massage therapists come into the office every other month. We’re also currently launching Vee, which is a platform that enables people to sign up for virtual and in-person volunteering opportunities. This initiative will enable employees to set up volunteer activities with their teams or departments. 

 

A GLOBAL MINDSET

Tharakan said having globally distributed employees on Sisense’s experience team is key to building an all-encompassing culture. She and her peers sync up frequently to discuss initiatives and keep track of different holidays around the world. Tharakan added that this global mindset informs the team’s event planning procedures. For instance, to celebrate Pride Month, the team is planning to host a virtual guest speaker at a time that is accessible for most of the company’s employees.

 

What excites you the most about Sisense’s current cultural transformation?

Tharakan: I’m most excited about the recent implementation of Team Thursdays. Considering I joined the company at the height of the pandemic, I didnt get to meet my coworkers for one year, so I’m excited to get to know more people. Having the flexibility to go into the office when I wish is also important, and it’s great to take part in fun events during work hours. This shows that the company prefers quality over quantity when it comes to employees’ time in the office. Additionally, we’re planning on continuing the work we’ve done through the Sisense Gives Back program. We have extended free product licenses for a few nonprofits, and we plan to do this in the future for two to four organizations each year. 

Doan: We have a lot of events and initiatives in the works. That’s exciting for me, because making meaningful connections is the reason why I show up for work each day. It’s important to work with great people and feel a sense of belonging.

 

 

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