We’re delighted to announce that Great Place to Work® and Fortune have honored Gem as one of 2020’s Best Small & Medium Workplaces™. This ranking is based on confidential survey feedback representing more than 189,000 employees working at small- and medium-sized businesses in the United States. Great Place to Work, a global people analytics and company culture research firm, evaluated more than 60 elements of team members’ experience on the job. These included the extent to which employees trust leaders, the respect with which people are treated, the fairness of workplace decisions, employees’ impressions of their ability to reach their full human potential as part of their organizations, and how much camaraderie there is among the team. Rankings are based on employee feedback, and they reward companies that include all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization. Gem took the #14 spot on Fortune’s list of top-100 small workplaces.
At Gem, we’ve put our people first from the very beginning; 2020 has both demonstrated that we prioritized the right thing and challenged us to up our game. Diversity has been a core principle since our founding—we knew that a culture that had belonging and inclusion baked into its DNA would have to be founded with a variety of voices. We’ve prioritized work-life balance as opposed to the startup mindset of continual hustle-and-grind: we realize that building a company and a brilliant product is a long game, and that personal development happens just as often in the rest between workdays. Gems have always had flexible work schedules and generous vacation time (and we’re serious about weekends!). But in the era of COVID, we now give employees one day a month off for what we call “Wellness Days.” Gems can choose to take these days entirely to themselves or with their families/communities, or they can choose to attend activities that their peers set up—biking challenges, for example, in which coworkers track and celebrate their teammates in Strava. We recognize that, even though our company has continued to thrive in 2020, that doesn’t mean our Gems don’t have personal anxieties and concerns to attend to. Wellness days ensure our teammates feel empowered to care for themselves.
Other things we’ve implemented during COVID to preserve a high-trust culture include using BetterHelp (or offering a monthly stipend to use elsewhere) to give our Gems a teletherapy option. Gem covers the cost, and the service is completely private: we get billed centrally but we won’t know which Gems are using it. Wednesdays from 1-5 are “no internal meeting” afternoons to give Gems a break from their screens and ensure they have time for head-down, uninterrupted work. And in the background of all of this, the exceptional company culture that we built pre-COVID continues. We host virtual celebrations, in which the whole team jumps on to bang pots and pans for big wins. We host virtual team “offsites” (paint-by-number and terrarium-making are among the recent ones). We’ve implemented Slack apps like HeyTaco! that allow teammates to publicly recognize and celebrate each other’s work, so everyone feels like they’re doing meaningful, visible work, even though that “visibility” has to be online for the time being. And we offer morning mediation sessions once a week, led by a Zen teacher, for Gems who find that practice valuable in their lives—and like to go quiet with their peers.
We took a very clear stance on BLM—both for our Black Gems, and because it was simply the right thing to do. We’ve also committed to mentorship initiatives to ensure that all Gems have equal access to internal promotion. Over the last year and a half, the Gem team has seen an 18% increase in URM employees and a 20% increase in female-identified employees. We plan to sustain that—including an investment in diversifying at the leadership level. Diversity is not only a core Gem value; it’s also a core feature of our product, and we’re committed to holding ourselves accountable for both ourselves and our customers.
We take an ongoing pulse on employee satisfaction—not only through quarterly surveys, but also through weekly All Hands meetings with Q&A. Gems can submit questions anonymously or ask them in real-time during the meeting. There’s never a question that gets passed over, because we know how important transparency is to a strong team. And as a result of all these things, our overall engagement score is consistently in the high 80s in employee satisfaction surveys. In the most recent survey we conducted, 98% of participants agreed that “I would recommend Gem as a great place to work,” and 95% of participants agreed that “I am proud to work at Gem.”
“This recognition by Fortune and Great Place to Work serves as a confirmation that we’ve made some strong decisions together—both Nick [Bushak, co-founder] and myself, and collectively as an entire team,” says Steve Bartel, our CEO. “But it’s also motivating. We all know how easy it is to ease up on something once you think you’ve ‘got it right.’ This year taught us more than anything that needs, expectations, and urgencies can shift on a dime. You can’t ever take your eyes off of company culture. We’re committed to keeping a finger on the pulse of our team, day-in and day-out. That’s the only way we’ll truly become the company we all envision.”
To learn more about Great Place to Work-Certification and recognition on Best Workplaces lists published with Fortune, visit GreatPlaceToWork.com.
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