A few years ago, my co-founder, Eric Crane, and I began to envision where Flatfile would be headquartered. I was based in Denver, and he was in Atlanta. Would one of those cities be the place? Both are emerging tech hubs and could have easily worked as our company’s home base. But at the end of the day, we decided we would run Flatfile as a 100-percent remote company. Being remote gives us the ability to hire top talent from anywhere in the world. While attracting top talent is a key focus for us as we continue to grow Flatfile, we also wondered if a fully remote workforce and culture would turn some candidates away.
We all know what happened next. A global pandemic struck, and companies sent their employees home in droves. We had a leg up. We were remote from our inception and learned a thing or two about how to attract and retain talent in the remote work world.
One of our core differentiators is that we truly and uniquely invest in our employees. We don’t have a physical office, so we can’t offer unlimited office snacks or in-person happy hours. But when your company really invests in you, do those things matter? Here are some of the ways we’ve attracted — and, more importantly, retained — talent.
A Million-Dollar Investment
One of my core beliefs around retaining talent is that employees need a path to grow within the company. That doesn't happen at most organizations. I've been at jobs where a clear path to advance didn't exist, so I left. And that's the unfortunate decision people face when they've been at a company for a few years. I wanted Flatfile to be different.
Employees generate tens of millions of dollars in business value. In creating this level of value, leaders must ask themselves, "How are you investing back into them?" At Flatfile, we see each employee is a $1 million investment. With salary, equity and benefits over a company's lifetime, every employee becomes a “million-dollar role” for us.
As such, we plan to invest in these million-dollar roles for the long term. If we're investing a million dollars per employee, we want to do it right. We need to ensure employees aren't browsing Built In’s job listings a year after joining to make their next big career move. We need to treat employees like the high-value assets that they are. Your team is the ultimate investment.
Rethinking Traditional Career Paths
As employees level-up within an organization, there’s a point where their responsibilities may include managing people. But what if a solid individual contributor doesn’t have the desire to lead a team? It’s career suicide.
We’ve put detailed thought into creating personalized career paths based on people’s actual interests. If you don’t want to become a people manager to advance in your career, you shouldn’t have to. Radical ownership is critical. The person closest to the problem within the business should drive the ownership of it and come up with the solution. Individual contributors can be solely responsible for their business area and be given the most directional ownership — instead of a manager. True leaders in the business give away proprietorship and focus on enabling good judgment; they don’t hold onto it.
Managing a team requires a specific skill set. And managing teams when the entire team is remote demands even more attention and dedication. This won’t appeal to everyone at your company, and yet businesses are set up with these predetermined paths to success. Shouldn’t a career path work for the employee, not the company? We think so.
The pandemic forced companies to adapt and rethink work from home. Now it’s time to rethink career development and advancement in a remote world.
Reimagining Remote Perks
A million-dollar investment goes beyond employee career paths. From day one, we set a goal to create the best remote work culture in the world. The little things add up, and employees who are taken care of are more likely to stay.
At this point, any working individual knows the benefits of remote work. There’s no commute, a sense of better work-life balance, and, of course, a more comfortable wardrobe.
Since Flatfile employees are always working from home, we needed a benefit that would stand out while also making remote work more enjoyable. This was the genesis of the home-office makeover. We pair employees with a professional interior designer and offer each individual up to $10,000 to create a professional home office. Our employees enjoy the home renovation process, and in the end, they have a dedicated workspace that inspires them. We had to consider that not all our employees reside in locations where we can start tearing down or painting walls, so employees who rent space are provided with a stipend equivalent to the average cost of 150 square feet of real estate in their area to dedicate to a home office.
Remote work is still a relatively new world to navigate, so my advice to other companies considering work from home full-time is this: Consider benefits and investments that will speak to and work for a remote workforce.
Are you providing top-of-the-line workstations?
Is there some type of spending account so employees can grab lunch on the company’s dime every so often?
Can you offer your employees a unique perk or benefit based on their needs?
These considerations might have a serious impact on retaining talent.
Through our million-dollar roles, the focus is to invest, invest and invest some more in our employees. This means not only investing in career growth but providing benefits to keep employees excited, challenged and motivated at work. Investing in employees is helping us on our journey to build the best remote company in the world. Now ask yourself: What will you do to invest in your remote employees?