Street Culture: Vendasta’s Intention Behind Job Perks and Fun at Work
Based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, reputation intelligence company Vendasta offers the standard tech-firm job perks: food, transportation subsidies, standing desks, yoga classes—but CEO Brendan King explains that those perks have an unambiguous goal behind them.
“The way we see it is, you can break your life up into four pieces,” King says. “Family, sleep, tasks, and work. If I want my employees to focus on work, I don’t want to take away from their time with their families or from their sleep, but I would like to take away some of those tasks. We have breakfast here every morning, so you don’t have to stop to get Starbucks. We have lunches, soup, and sandwiches, and you don’t want that every day, but if you’re on a call or you’re working and you want to just keep going, you can grab a sandwich easily.”
The company also brings in a hair stylist for employees’ benefit, hoping to make that process a little easier, and a pick-up, drop-off laundry service.
“We do those things to try to make it easy for people to take care of those little things,” he says. “What I really want to do is get car detailing and oil changes because those are things I hate to do. The other thing is to have a daycare. Our next building, we will do all those things. We’re working on a plan for it right now. It won’t be longer than two years.”
Vendasta employs about 260 people currently, and King expects that it will grow to 350 employees in 2019. There are satellite offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Austin, Texas, and depending on the job, employees have the option to work remotely when traveling. King says the company-sponsored volunteer programs and donations are mostly based on supporting kids, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and speaking at local schools about STEM and software development.
King says that a company’s culture will always reflect the personalities and the individual values of its leadership.
“That has to happen, right? Culture isn’t what you aspire for it to be, it just is what it is,” he says. “Our culture at Vendasta is nurtured by a culture of fun and challenging work. For myself, I hate losing. We are not gonna lose. And then innovation—making sure we’re doing something that is creative and capitalizing on new things. Then respect. We think that’s an important foundation. Respect everyone, and fear no one.”
The fun aspect is something that King takes seriously. It’s not worth having a job that is not at least a little bit fun—especially since work is one third of your life.
“If you’re not having fun at work, we’ll help you find a different job,” he says. “I’ve had people come to me and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been here a long time and I’m just not having as much fun as I used to.’ I would literally help those people find a different job.”
Sixteen employees include “camping” as an interest on the company’s website team page, and King says the (optional) annual camping trip is well-attended.
“We’ve had some pretty good times,” he says. “When we first started, I’d have a pool party every summer, with spouses and significant others and children. It got to be 110 people, when everyone would bring over their spouse and kids, and my wife said that year, ‘You’re not having the pool party next year.’”
Vendasta initially broke out the company culture exercises in 2008 or 2009. Since then, the company’s core values have been modified slightly over the years, but the core purpose and mission have stayed the same. The main core values are thinking big, taking ownership, having a bias for action, and being customer-obsessed. Those are values that are communicated from the hiring process on, and Vendasta initiates touchpoints about them for employees on a quarterly basis.
“I think we’re pretty careful in hiring,” he says. “We have those core values and leader principles. Something that we found is that folks have to be able to adapt to change. That’s the biggest thing we look for in hiring. In the tech world, things change so fast,” he says. “If people are looking to settle and swim in their own lane, it’s not going to work out. We need folks with a bias for action and who can handle the only thing that is guaranteed, which is change.”
April Nowicki is a staff writer at Street Fight.