A culture exec who worked with Google and Intel shares 6 tips for building a killer workplace

Katie Burke. Photo: supplied.

Katie Burke knows what makes great company culture.

Throughout her career she has established culture-building initiatives for corporate giants including Google, Intel and MIT.

Now VP for culture and experience at HubSpot, Burke shared with Business Insider what she learned from working with these organisations.

Here’s what she said.

1. Share your secret sauce

A few years ago, MIT stunned the world by doing the unimaginable — one of the best universities on the planet put their coursework online so anyone around the globe could learn from them, at anytime and at no cost. This seemingly absurd decision would appear at the surface level to discount the value of an MIT education, but in fact it does just the opposite – sharing their secret sauce reinforces MIT’s core value proposition of innovating and thinking different. HubSpot – co-founded by two MIT Sloan School alums – takes a similar approach to culture. Sharing our culture, insights, content, and community in the world is one of the ways we attract and grow remarkable people, and giving away valuable content and insights has helped us garner more than 18,000 customers worldwide and grow to massive scale globally.

HubSpot’s Sydney office. Photo: supplied.

2. Empower employees

Facebook has created one of my favourite expressions: “Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.” As companies grow and scale, people often feel less accountability to their team, their mission, and their customers. Although, giving individual employees autonomy to solve problems they see quickly and independently is imperative to corporate innovation and to retaining remarkable people. One of my favourite examples is a designer noticing that the woman in the Facebook icon looked like she had a literal chip cut out of her shoulder, so she set out to solve it. The result? A more inclusive and relevant logo for Facebook’s global users and a employee satisfied by having the autonomy to solve for great design.

3. Take one step at a time

Prior to joining HubSpot I worked at EXOS, a company who worked alongside elite athletes and with corporate wellness initiatives at companies like Google and Intel. One of the things we realised early on was that whether you’re an elite athlete, an executive, or an intern, humans are all creatures of habit – so if you want people to change a behaviour – whether that’s improving their presentation style or getting faster to compete on the pitch – you need to help people take a baby step to get started. At HubSpot, we offer Master Classes taught by employees to help folks get started with a one hour Excel class or Illustrator workshop, then tuition reimbursement to help employees take the next step from there if you want. If you invest in people taking small steps, big leaps will follow.

4. Be mission-driven

Google leads with its mission, to organise the world’s information, and HubSpot has taken a cue from Google’s approach by focusing on helping companies transform the way they market and sell to match how modern consumers shop and buy. The result? A company focused on transformation, leading with a significant mission and philosophy that HubSpot customers and employees rally around to make marketing and sales less interruptive and more relevant.

HubSpot’s Sydney office. Photo: supplied.

5. Actively invest in women in tech

Sheryl Sandberg has led the way from Facebook with her Lean In movement to help companies, communities, and women globally think about the powering of Leaning In. At HubSpot, like many companies in tech, we believe that inclusive teams are the best teams, so we actively invest in helping engage all of our employees in discussions on how we can help more women lead in the tech community. HubSpot offers Women in Sales programming, a Women in Product circle, a [email protected] initiative that boasts speaking and network opportunities, and a Women on Board initiative focussed on helping female leaders prepare for board positions.

6. Make recharging a focus

HubSpot offers free nutrition consultations, fitness offerings, and nap rooms in many of its global locations to help employees rest and recharge. The inspiration came from people like Arianna Huffington, who has made sleeping more part of her advice to companies and entrepreneurs alike, and from companies like Google where mindfulness and fitness are a core focus. The reality is that tech is busy and fast-paced, so investing in ways for employees to recharge and rejuvenate is critical.