Creating a Good Company Culture
Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. Fourteen years ago, we set out to create a safe, open environment for employees to grow and thrive. We committed to hiring a diverse staff that represented and embraced our core values, and we listened to them. This year, our work paid off with an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™ validated by our fabulous team.
Strong company culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture?
In the past 14 years in business, InspiringApps has matured from a flat organization to one with an outstanding leadership team. In InspiringApps’ infancy, our culture was driven by the personalities of the relatively few people involved. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to the things we’ve come to value— empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees. It is much more challenging to make cultural changes with an existing team. So we aim to hire people who share those values from the start.
What is Company Culture?
Every company has a culture. While it may form organically, greater success will come from consistent cultivation. Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main categories: Loyalty-based, performance-based, opportunity-passed, and lifestyle-based. No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture—flexible work or other perks—over performance-based culture, including raises and promotions for a job well done, the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference.
The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight.
Why Do Your Employees Need an Intentional Company Culture?
The job market is booming, with qualified candidates searching for a better way to spend their work hours. A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture!
In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work.
Consistency and time are part of the formula for creating an intentional company culture. There’s no shortcut. Influential leaders seek to understand what employees appreciate, what causes them pain, hear their suggestions for improvement, follow through with promised changes, and repeat that process frequently. Intentional company culture benefits from open minds and a commitment from everyone, especially the leadership team.
InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth and implements practices that demonstrate that. An InspiringApps employee explains it best:
“I've never been part of a company or even heard of one that not only prioritizes production and quality for the client(s) but also functionality and comfortability of the work environment. InspiringApps has mastered the balance between keeping the clients happy and keeping the employees happy. For me personally, hours are flexible because of my schedule, and the entire team is always open to communication when I need assistance or have a question. My bosses check in on me to ensure I'm doing okay with my work even when I have not reached out for help. Every other employee and my bosses are truly excited to have me on the team, and make that clear to me everyday, which is why I feel so comfortable and open to expressing my thoughts and ideas on projects.”
How to Develop and Maintain a Good Company Culture
Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team.
We built our culture slowly and methodically over the past 14 years, and these are some of the most successful initiatives that have inspired more than 40% of our staff to stay with us for more than five years.
Promote from Within
Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards.
Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees are able to have long tenures at InspiringApps, while still remaining competitive. At the same time, we’re able to hire the best candidates for our growing positions, right from our own team.
“I’ve been able to get help in building new skills, speak at conferences, and grow within the company throughout my time at InspiringApps,” said an InspiringApps employee.
As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team over their tenure.
Offer Excellent Benefits
Many start-ups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect.
“We’ve had a hybrid remote-work model for many years. Pre-pandemic, this was something that very few companies offered,” said an InspiringApps employee. “It was one of the reasons I chose this company.”
As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401k with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP).
Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that reflects the users we serve better.
Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees—20% more than the U.S. average.
Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients.
Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital – and the efforts to stay be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection is ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives and more.
Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the name of the game. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why.
“They place a great deal of trust in their employees,” said an InspiringApps employee. “Even to help make product decisions or suggestions to customers.”
Open and frequent communication, including stand-ups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. Share company goals regularly so that your employees feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling the positive communication behaviors in everything they do.
Technology is your friend when it comes to employee engagement—offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture.
We’re honored to be recognized as a Great Place to Work. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another and anyone who interacts with InspiringApps. It certainly makes InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, but we think you’ll also see the results when you work with us and in the apps we create.
Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 14 years, our development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications for more than 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.
To attract customers to your digital product or platform, you’ll need to provide an experience that stands out. At a minimum, customers have baseline expectations and experiences you need to keep up with—but they’re looking for more than that. Technologies that provide personalized data experiences and real-life value will be the ones to delight companies and users alike. Owning your customer’s digital experience means understanding your user’s journey from beginning to end. By anticipating every touchpoint your user experiences, you can craft solutions that meet their needs at the right moment. Ultimately, digital products that do so will find loyal customers that keep on coming back. Here are some considerations you may stay aware of along the user’s journey as you create your customer’s digital experience. Seamless, Frictionless UX and UI Users expect a smooth and seamless digital experience from start to finish. That means everything from anticipating and displaying the content they need to automatically unlocking the door they’re walking up to—all without a glitch. One of the quickest ways to get your customers to thank you is by providing them with a seamless payment experience. Digital and contactless payment tools like Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, and Google Pay are easy options that users rate highly. These tools enable a connected user experience for quick payment within your app. Making it easy to pay is a win-win for everyone from a user experience and user interface perspective. Users are hungry for one-stop shopping enabled by the digital marketplace, and frictionless payments connect to your users’ digital wallets. An ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT) opens up even more opportunities to influence your customer through a seamless experience. For example, consider how an app like Turo changes its customer’s experience of arriving at the airport in a new city. Turo’s customers can skip the rental counter and walk right out to their weekend ride with a digital key, eliminating hassle on their weekend getaway. Time saved delivers real-life value to your user, and many will repeat the experience if it goes smoothly the first time. Data/System Integrations Better insights drive better business decisions. App and system integrations enable interoperability to help guide business operations and provide the right solutions needed in today’s market. Integrations can be a lot more exciting than you’d imagine at first glance. Here are two significant ways to use data integrations to help your customers: Bring people and data together, so your customers feel connected to what matters most. Then, you can serve up their favorite products and content on the platforms where they already work and play. Customize your customers’ experience to their set preferences to experience more comfort and continuity in their daily lives. For example, you can hide technical complexity and offer a seamless experience. Using this combination of approaches, you can deliver a level of personalization to your customers that feels authentic and unique to them. Imagine getting home and having the heat turned to the right setting, the lights dimmed to your preference, and your favorite playlist queued. This hyperconnected experience is only possible when devices and systems share data and “talk” behind the scenes—and the result is significant to the user. Provide Tools To Solve the Problem Owning your customer’s experience involves using experience-driven thought to anticipate your user's needs and behaviors at every step of their customer journey. Innovative companies are taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies to anticipate the needs of their users and provide the data, insights, and tools they need to solve the problems they encounter. This approach benefits both sides, as customers are able to more quickly get to their solution, and companies reduce their customer service costs. Examples include interactive chatbots and virtual assistants. AI can answer a question, point you to resources, schedule a meeting, and do much more in these instances. Data itself is a crucial tool we provide users in many of the apps we create. For example, we’ve created products that allow users tools and insight into their home mortgages, enabling them to make the data-driven decisions that are best for them. By informing users of their current interest rate and when market interest rates are down, we provide timely refinancing suggestions and the tools to get it done within the product. We also developed a marketing platform that enables prominent technology vendors to arm their channel partners with tools to manage marketing campaigns with automated personalized content and analytics. Ultimately, we help consumers save money while increasing their brand loyalty and the likelihood they’ll become trusting, repeat customers. Set the Stage for Loyalty and Repeat Business Personalized experiences set the stage for loyalty and repeat business. The end of the user journey should feed into the next one—creating a cycle for brand loyalty from buyers who trust and want to reengage with your products continuously. Consider the stage set by Withings. Consumers have multiple entry points to buy across several connected healthcare products—all leading them to download the Withings app. When users buy their first Withings product, they gain experience with the app and develop trust in the brand. Their experience is uniquely personalized, aggregating their health data in one place and integrating it with native iOS and Android health apps. Once users have seamless, connected data built into their native health ecosystem, Withings devices are top of mind when they’re ready to buy another connected healthcare product. Loyalty and personalization is a dynamite combo that enables brands to target at the segment level with broad-based recommendations. Customers receive offers targeted not just at customers like them, but as individuals with uniquely relevant products, offers, and communications. InspiringApps & BrainTrust This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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Three decades ago, when viewers watched Knight Rider covertly fight crime in an AI-driven, sentient sports car, artificially intelligent vehicles were a work of fiction, but the future is finally here. Consumers aren’t just driving with the help of interactive dashboard navigation; they’re also working, shopping, and living in a connected world thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and connectivity that’s stronger, faster, and more reliable than ever before. From house lights programmed to dim at a specific time of day to a wearable personal assistant in watch form, technology expansion and improved software integration have improved our lives with convenience and efficiency in our day-to-day world. We’re more connected than ever. Connectivity creates opportunities for companies to improve operations, encourage a good customer experience, and boost revenue. However, with exponential growth in available data, businesses must consider privacy, security, and transparency to their bottom line. Benefits of Connected Data The majority of data businesses collect is harmless and even necessary for a good user experience. Consumer-provided data, also known as first-party data, enhances app personalization that many consumers appreciate, creating a more useful digital product or application. Tech giants like Apple and Google collect data to connect services—maps, mail, searches, and app integration—seamlessly, which is much more efficient than asking users to submit their data anew for each program. While laws protect highly sensitive or confidential user data, other information—including search history, location, usage, and browsing history—is passed to businesses and advertisers. Companies use this data to personalize their experience across the IoT and serve up highly relevant ads. Third-party data is why you see ads for the exact product you researched. It helps cut through the clutter and gives consumers the information they need. Consumers can enjoy unique possibilities as data collection grows, and software and apps use it in more sophisticated ways. Using browsing data, app companies can anticipate needs based on time of day, location, or date (imagine an app that tells you where to eat based on your past restaurant experience—an end to the “where do you want to eat” conversation). It can help small businesses reach more of their target market to thrive. Data collection and analysis can even keep us safer by predicting criminal activity through early warning systems. The future is developing quickly. Here’s what consumers and business leaders need to know about data privacy and security in today’s connected world. Data Privacy For two decades, data privacy was an afterthought for many companies. Data harvesting gave unprecedented access to customer insights and market analysis, and many built their business through third-party data. Consumers primarily offered their information without considering how companies would use it, while companies considered data a trade secret and operated outside government oversight. Today, consumers are more protective of their data and have become increasingly distrustful of sharing their private information. Data collection practices needed to change, and we’ve witnessed a shift toward more transparency and more choices for consumers in the last few years. Your User and Their Privacy Data privacy, at its core, revolves around transparency. Consumers need to know how you collect and store their data and why, when, and what data you collect. Typically outlined in a privacy statement on a company website, privacy policies create trust between a company and the consumers they serve. Data collection is a balancing act. Consumers have noted that companies who ask for too much information, create complex or confusing privacy policies, and use inaccurate information about themselves used in marketing topped the list of what leads to distrust. Companies should be acutely aware of how they ask for information from consumers and empower the users by giving them back control over what they share. Relying on first-party data and collecting and storing it ethically shows respect for your consumers. When consumers know a company has their best interests in mind, they are more likely to continue building trust with the company for years to come. Current in Big Tech One of the most powerful shifts in consumer privacy came in an iOS upgrade for Apple products aimed to protect users’ data. The iOS15 upgrade included the option to mask IP addresses and block third parties from tracking email opens, an iCloud-based subscription that prevents sites from tracking Safari users, and an email address “cloaking” feature that provides a fake email address. Google upped the ante by announcing they would phase out third-party cookies by 2022 and were not planning to build alternative options to track users as they browse on Google products. After some backlash from the online advertising industry, Google created a Privacy Sandbox initiative to create website standards that access first-party data while still protecting users. The switch to a first-party data-driven world has considerable implications for development and marketing alike. Developers will have to get more creative with asking customers for their data—email forms, surveys, location data, and browsing behavior. Marketers will, in turn, use this data to identify consumer insights, which means they’ll have to be more in tune with their customers’ needs and continuously iterate to discover what works. Advertising may be more challenging as marketers won’t have a chance to rely on platforms like Facebook or Google to find their ideal customers. Data Security Consumers expect companies to use their data responsibly and protect it from bad agents—scammers and cybercriminals who collect and expose data for profit. Data breaches increased 68% in 2021 from the previous year—the highest total ever. Despite the attention to data protection, more than 294 million people were affected by these cyberattacks, which focused on smaller, targeted attacks on smaller businesses. Data privacy and data security go hand in hand. As companies work on compiling first-party data and building trust with their customers, cybercriminals will more heavily target individual companies protecting this data. Our ever-present connectivity, including smart cars, smart homes, smart devices, and the overall IoT, brings another dimension to data privacy because there are more access points for cybercriminals to steal personal data. Now is the time for development and cybersecurity professionals to double down on protecting this data. As your company builds software and digital products, ensure they are secure by design. Develop fool-proof security measures to prevent theft, detect theft early, and respond to security threats. Create code review policies, audit trails, and vulnerability scans to find security gaps. Consumers are accustomed to the ease and personalization of their apps and software integrations, and companies rely on the information these consumers provide to make informed decisions that benefit their customers. The connectivity ecosystem is a delicate balance between too much and not enough, but the future of data is in good hands. InspiringApps & BrainTrust This content is a collaboration between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust.
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