2 Chicago Companies Redesigning the Employee Experience
When an interview opens up for the candidate to ask questions, hiring committees hear the same few questions. “What do you like about working here?” “Why did you join the organization?” “What keeps you here?”
There are three key answers, according to Future Forum’s April quarterly report. Workers are seeking schedule flexibility and autonomy, open communication that supports collaboration without burnout and a robust culture of learning.
“Those who ‘wait and see what others do’ will be left behind,” reported Future Forum. “It is time to start exploring.”
Chicago’s Sprout Social and Jellyvision are taking this advice to heart. Both created structures for growth, flexibility and transparency across their business, with particular focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and seeking opportunities for connection across teams and between distributed colleagues.
“This year, we offered a course on the new world of work where we learn new skills to navigate and work effectively in our distributed, hybrid environment,” said Liz Corcoran, senior director of learning and organizational development at Sprout Social.
Meanwhile, at Jellyvision, colleagues are working together to find the path forward. “We formed a future-of-work committee of employees across the organization, which has been instrumental in helping teams feel less siloed in a remote setting,” said Brian Scannell, director of talent acquisition.
“There’s no single blueprint for the future,” according to Future Forum. Built In Chicago sat down with Sprout Social and Jellyvision to learn more about how each company is redesigning work to better serve the individualized needs of their employees.
Sprout Social offers social listening, analytics and management opportunities to brands and agencies.
What is one standout career development opportunity Sprout Social offers employees?
Our Grow@Sprout program creates a holistic approach to learning and development at both the professional and personal level. Each quarter, we offer specific courses to ensure our employees feel invested in and are given the resources to facilitate and own their development. This year we’ve focused on courses related to connection, empathy and impact where we provide opportunities to strengthen human connection and collaboration across Sprout employees. We also partner closely with our diversity, equity and inclusion team to ensure we offer thought-provoking learning opportunities and discussions that empower our team with the knowledge, experiences and tools needed to drive meaningful change within our communities.
What is one way Sprout Social supports open communication and transparency?
We have a dedicated internal communications team that’s focused on leading and supporting a variety of initiatives, which is key to ensuring we’re constantly thinking about ways we can facilitate open communication and transparency across Sprout. We’ve introduced a bi-weekly internal newsletter called Sproutlook that highlights important happenings across our organization and features employees across departments. We hear from members of our executive team on a regular basis to learn what’s on their minds, what’s going on at Sprout, and what opportunities are coming up for the business and team.
We recognize that our time outside of work is crucial to doing our best.”
What is Sprout Social’s approach to flexible work?
Sprout is committed to a workplace rooted in flexibility, no matter where people are located. We ensure our employees are intentional with their time and are thoughtful about how and where they spend it to meet their individual needs and preferences. We offer employees the flexibility and support to work from wherever they are most productive, whether that be a fully remote, in-office or hybrid approach. We also strongly encourage all employees and teams to set expectations with one another around availability and responsiveness, which helps ensure we make space in our day to focus on our most important work. We recognize that our time outside of work is crucial to doing our best, and we offer monthly, company-wide rest and recharge days to give our employees an opportunity to unplug and relax by doing something they enjoy.
Jellyvision created ALEX, a platform that helps employees select benefit options in a fun and straightforward way.
What is one standout career development opportunity Jellyvision offers employees?
Our environment really enables lifelong learners to flourish. This is directly tied to Jellyvision’s purpose: be helpful. That purpose relates not only to our customers but our employees as well. This core value allows folks to step outside the confines of their job descriptions and to be engaged in different aspects of the business that they wouldn’t normally get exposure to. We want to support our employee’s desires, strengths and interests, so outside of department-allocated funds to fuel education and growth, every employee has access to a yearly reimbursement. Managers support this drive for growth and meet with employees regarding their development twice a year. Those check-ins create space to discuss individual career aspirations and craft an action plan on how to achieve those goals.
Our environment really enables lifelong learners to flourish.”
What is one way Jellyvision supports open communication and transparency?
Communication and transparency are an integral part of Jellyvision’s culture. Recently, our diversity, equity and inclusion program manager Ian Gibbs-Hall created an incredibly powerful bystander intervention program. He gathered feedback from our employees to understand what types of actionable training might be effective to ensure a safe working environment. The implementation of this program, alongside other DEI-specific training, has been super impactful to everyone at Jellyvision as we continue to further inclusivity.
What is Jellyvision’s approach to flexible work?
Jellyvision has always been remote-friendly, so it wasn’t a major shock to our culture to transition everyone to being fully remote in the spring of 2020. Since then, we’ve adopted a flexible-first approach as a company policy. We fully support our employees to work wherever makes them feel most comfortable, productive and safe. We still have our office here in Chicago for those who wish to use it, but there is no expectation for folks to come in.
The inclusion of Focus Fridays helps folks minimize internal meetings and get work shored up before the weekend. We’ve also been piloting a self-care day on the second Friday of every month. The feedback has been immensely positive and a great way for everyone to recharge and be offline together.