We've found that the best Drupal agency is the one with a highly functioning, happy team. To be fair, remote or distributed agencies are happier and more productive anyways and that's based on remote work surveys. But we're going a step further with the goal of becoming the best Drupal agency, specifically by ensuring our team is a happy one.
Our Goal: Be Best Drupal Agency
There are a few important factors, features of wellness, which help make the best Drupal agency. For us, these are our fantastic Life Coach (working full-time for our team members), peer-determined semi-annual raises, results-based productivity that's not measured in hours, and much more. How we approach work-life balance, organizational culture, time, and money have changed the way we do everything. Most importantly, it works.
We take employee satisfaction to an extreme
We hired a Life Coach full-time for our team members. This unique move has helped forward our holistic approach to instill job satisfaction, side step burnout, and enable healthy professional growth. Team members can contact our life coach to work on career path objectives, stress management, personal goal setting, life changes, social challenges, and much more.
This internal resource may seem bizarre to some, but it's an option with benefits that go beyond productive workdays. A life coach fosters satisfaction and helps banish workplace indifference.
We’ve got an excellent kudos system. Our HR system integrates with Slack, which lets us give publically and receive pats on the back throughout the day. We encourage many notes of appreciation, recognizing monthly those who give and receive the most. This enablement creates a healthy and congratulatory environment within our organization.
In a professional environment like this, concealed positive feedback doesn’t always do the job. We’re building a positive culture for our team, with an emphasis on goals, personal development, and satisfaction.
Often when logging into our Slack system, we find personalized messages from the CEO and COO encouraging us to reach out to our leaders and peers if there's something on our minds. It's a great way to promote openness and remind everyone, daily, what we value here.
We make it a point to survey team engagement and belonging. Quarterly surveys give our team members opportunities to bring forward their sentiments. While our open door policy is always in effect, these questionnaires allow us to ensure organizationally Axelerant is feeling good.
Monthly 1-on-1’s are about career growth. Making improvements and milestones are imperative, but you could say that career growth is paramount. Team members discuss with leaders their future so they can visualize the stepping stones.
Being a best Drupal agency is one which enables career growth and skill refinement, and having these every month—for everyone—applies a strategy.
In these meetings, we discuss training opportunities, the possibilities of educational reimbursement and career path changes. If a team member is interested in another vertical or department, we can nurture a transition or part-time involvement.
Our progressive policies are benefits. Team members are encouraged to take advantage of leave, travel, and tech policies whenever applicable. Inside Axelerant, you’ll find travel and technology budgets (Wi-fi reimbursement and device replacement); group health insurance; and a generous 35-days leave plus maternity, sabbatical, and paternity leave options.
Days off are shareable with other team members. And these are paid, of course.
We do work differently
There’s been quite a bit of talk recently about burnout in the Drupal community. Work-life balance has been at the heart of this conversation, and at the crux of work-life balance you'll find company policy. Let’s face it. Overworking, a culture of perpetual overtime, and burnout have a lot—if not everything—to do with an agency’s approach to productivity. The best Drupal agency or firm will put this into perspective and do the right thing.
We don’t clock in or out. We deliver quality work on time and budget, without timesheets. Productivity is about results via Key Performance Indicators, not punch cards. When you work hard, efficiently, and you’re connected with the team, you achieve these quality results.
Of course, our approach is detailed; we've adopted and refined agile frameworks which support our self-organized, self-managed teams.
Agile powers how we get things done. Our performance tracking and collaborative efforts align with this approach. There are much more reasons for our Drupal success in delivery, including our competence with automation.
We set our work schedules. This scheduling is expressive of deep trust and responsibility, and it’s a serious testament. If top Drupal agencies want to keep top performing team members happy, allowing time for daily activities (whether these involve family, social, or spiritual norms) is a great start.
Axelerant’s work-life balance is in the hands of each team member.
This doesn’t mean that our employees aren’t up early in the morning or late at night. What this means is while some may choose to be up before the sun (or long after it’s gone), it’s up to them. We encourage them to do what’s best for themselves.
These agile and scheduling characteristics help foster our team’s wellness, as both are focused on the needs of the individual. We’ve found that this doesn’t hinder project success, in fact, it helps to ensure it.
Rigidity doesn’t work, and our teams have proven that they can be trusted with accountability and independence.
We handle finances differently
We’re transparent. In Axelerant, employees can view salaries, raises, and other details about company spending. These aren’t coveted secrets; figures are talked about openly. In this way, every employee is kept in the loop and encouraged to ask questions about our internal affairs. We keep ourselves honest, and we don’t mind talking about money.
We’re passionate about our work and our livelihood. Some firms and agencies don’t like to speak about money. We’re not like this. Let’s be frank, financial conversations centered on our employee's needs aren’t signs of a lack of passion or selfishness. At Axelerant, we encourage openness.
Semi-annual raises are peer-determined. Each team receives a raised budget based on profits. Next, the allocation of this amount is by honest team-level discussions. We’ve found that this system in conjunction with 1-on-1s, metrics, and engagement survey enables team recognition and promotes project feats. While this isn’t wholly competitive, it does encourage personal growth.
We’re paid on-time, in monthly lump sums. This consistency works perfectly for our employees when it comes to putting away savings and meeting monthly budgeting needs. Whereas some agency employees need to wait for several weeks or a couple of months for addressing their school loans, rent, food, and other financial concerns, Axelerant employees are already done during the first week of every month.
Being remote sure helps
Remote teams have the opportunity to put their best face forward. This doesn’t mean telecommuters are fake or disingenuous. Digital practitioners, despite contrary opinions, have the ability to interact in ways face-to-face team members can’t. They can compose themselves and avoid reactive, knee-jerk responses.
We’re talking about the unproductive kinds of office culture, the kinds that can weigh heavy in the workplace. These things can produce, over time, an unhappy (and by extension an unproductive) team. Remote work avoids this and other unpleasantness that can come with the brick and mortar.
But what's more important is our people are free to be around their friends and family without hesitation. Working from a home office or a cafe liberates the team—gives them freedom
Being global changes everything
Axelerant is a globally distributed team (France, Taiwan, India, Israel, Japan, Australia, United States, and more to come). Some of us are from the major cities; others live in small towns—why does this matter? Because we’ve built a close-knit international team and have attained a diversity some can only dream of.
We’re a melting pot. Our cultural differences create a unique environment that enriches us all. The unique perspectives and insights every team member brings to Axelerant make our team dynamic. Diversity is the workplace gives organizations of all kinds a real advantage.
The importance of having this universal, a global mindset in today’s market can’t be undervalued. We’re world travelers, with a deep appreciation for the new. This connectedness is positive energy that charges Axelerant’s brand: we’re multicultural movers and boundary pushers.
There are global events and retreats happening back-to-back. Our annual retreat officially brings us all together for epicness, but we often see one another at international cons, camps, and other local meetups. This sponsored travel takes many of us to places we wouldn’t be visiting otherwise, broadening our horizons, and exposing us to the world even more.
We’re an international, 24-hour powerhouse. We use time zones to our advantage. This provides a tremendous advantage to our clients and enables us to get ahead of other agencies. At any time, somebody from Axelerant, somewhere in the world, is working hard at getting the right thing done.
It's simple, happy people work hard
Happy employees are more productive. and happy, skilled production is what makes up the best Drupal agency. We've found that satisfied employees with proper work-life balance are the best, bottom line. If you don't have happy people, you've got a revolving door, an impassionate workforce, and indifference.
Unhappy people are indifferent. Unhappiness can breed indifference, and indifference is what will sink any agency. The day your people become unhappy is another day closer to them becoming unconcerned and eventually inactive.
If you want the best Drupal agency, find wellness
Beyond an extensive portfolio, and efficient Drupal services, a top Drupal agency will display healthy indications of a flourishing culture. The culture comes from people. If you're looking for the best talent, which is what every organization in need of a Drupal vendor is looking for, then look for happy talent. Empowered teams produce powerful work. When more decision makers start to get this, we'll all be in a better place.
These are just a few oddities that make us great. If you’re looking to hire or work for the best Drupal agency, these are some of the details you should be considering.
This article was originally published in November, 2015. It has since been updated.
Nathan Roach, Director of Marketing
Germany-based consumer of old world wine and the written word. Offline you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter at festivities in the Rhineland.