Yesterday, LinkedIn named Verkada among the top startups for the third year in a row, which is both incredibly exciting and humbling. It is always an honor to be recognized among other great companies, but it is particularly exciting to be named this year.
The past 12 months have posed unprecedented challenges for Verkada. The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to adapt to a new way of life, both personally and professionally. In that same time period, Verkada grew significantly, doubling the size of its employee base and expanding its footprint across the US with offices in San Mateo, Austin, Salt Lake City and across the globe with offices in London and Sydney.
This rapid growth has meant that we have not always met the high standards we set for ourselves. For example, we missed the mark in our initial handling of a workplace incident from a few years back where two employees were the target of egregious and totally unacceptable behavior. Ultimately we terminated the individuals responsible. However, because we did not take the appropriate action at the time, the consequences of that incident were understandably felt for a long period of time by our entire team.
In the wake of this we introduced a number of initiatives and changes, but the biggest takeaway was that while we strive to attain our aspiration for the type of company we want to be, it is important to acknowledge when we don’t, examine how we can improve, and take action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
This approach has helped us grow rapidly, and we hope it will continue to help us scale and foster the type of supportive, fun, challenging and rewarding workplace that we want Verkada to be.
Some of the programs that we implemented so far that were particularly effective included the following:
Continued investment and addition of new Employee Resource Groups: We established three employee resource groups in Q2 2020: Women at Verkada, Pride at Verkada and the Multicultural community. These groups underscore our commitment to making our workplace one where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Establishing the three initial communities was a first step towards that goal — groups that aim to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment by providing a shared connection and network. In Q4 2020, we added Parents at Verkada to provide a forum for working parents to connect, share resources, and support each other socially.
Implementation of health and wellness initiatives: The pandemic has reinforced the undeniable interconnectedness of work, family and life -- as well as the need for employers to focus on the overall wellbeing of their employees. To address this at Verkada, we’ve double-downed on employee wellness by launching our inaugural Wellness Month, which took place over the month of March 2021 and centered around four main themes: physical, mental, financial and environmental wellness. In addition, we hosted global step challenges, which rallied teams of employees across the globe in a friendly competition, where everyone ultimately benefited by being more connected and active. We also have just launched our newest employee community — Verkada Fit — aimed at further promoting the physical and mental wellbeing of our employees.
Of course, COVID-19 added an entirely unforeseen dimension to many people’s lives and jobs. In the interest of our employee’s health and safety, we implemented daily in-office testing administered by medical professionals. We extended this program to families and friends of our employees — in addition to the community one day per week — when testing facilities were not so easily accessible. This was in addition to the necessary protocols relating to social distancing and enhanced cleaning of shared spaces, air filtration, PPE, and contact tracing.
Fostering an equitable and inclusive workplace: As the company grows and our employee base becomes more diverse, we are always looking for ways to enhance and expand our employee benefits to attract and retain diverse talent. This year, we brought our offerings-- including parental leave — in line with Silicon Valley standards and have gone further than the vast majority of companies by introducing fertility benefits for all employees irrespective of gender. We just completed a gender pay equity review, which we will continue to undertake biannually.
Verkada believes that giving back to society is a reflection of our values. Verkada Gives was officially launched in Q1 2021 with the mission of giving back to the communities in which we live, work and operate. It has been inspiring to be part of this initiative and to partner with causes that align with our own company mission of protecting people, assets and privacy. As a team, we appreciate that we are still very young in our company’s lifecycle and our philanthropic efforts are nascent. As we continue to grow as an organization, we are committed to increasing our footprint by engaging employees through volunteering opportunities, donation drives and community outreach. To date, we have focused on providing donations and supplies to combat COVID-19 by funding a mobile vaccination and testing clinic serving underprivileged neighborhoods in the Bay Area. We have also sponsored a number of charities committed to supporting survivors of human and sex trafficking in California and Hawaii amongst other worthy causes.
We measure progress with data
Our priority is to ensure that everyone at Verkada is happy, engaged, feels valued and has great career opportunities. Data is a critical tool to drive business decisions for most organizations, and Verkada is no different. Our engineering, product, sales, finance and marketing teams have always relied on data to set priorities, measure success and inform decisions. Given that our people are our greatest asset, we have made it a priority over the past year to source quantitative feedback from our employees to ensure that the actions we take meet their needs and expectations.
To this end, Verkada has partnered with Culture Amp to utilize its platform to gather information anonymously from our employees. The inaugural survey was initiated in December 2020 and we have continued to anonymously survey all of our employees on a quarterly basis. This allows us to systematically track progress over time and compare our results against previous surveys and against a benchmark of other technology companies. We share results of each survey with employees and the Board, as well as the actions taken in response to the survey.
Figure 1. Verkada Employee Survey Results as presented to the Board in Q2’2021.
On a personal level, I feel very fortunate to be a part of a company that is so focused on giving back to the wider community. I get to marry two of my passions as part of my role — people and philanthropy, which is incredibly fulfilling.
Looking ahead, we will continue to invest in people-related programs. Three spotlighted initiatives that we will be implementing over the next quarter are launching global chapters of our employee resource groups, creating a relocation community to support all Verkada employees who have transplanted for work, and continuing to invest in employee development. As our company grows, we will continue to leverage data to ensure that our employees are engaged, committed and happy to be a part of Verkada. Building a world class team is core to our future success. We are thrilled to continue investing in this area.