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How Shopify, Hubspot, Oath and Peapod Supercharged Their Company Cultures This Past Year

Collaborative, flexible, supportive and learning oriented environments attract and retain employees.


For your brand to thrive, your people need to thrive. But not just financially: According to research by career marketplace Hired, company culture is the second-most-important factor to job seekers in their decision-making process, following salary.

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Hired recently released its 2018 annual Global Brand Health Report, which ranks the most appealing companies worldwide and within 12 local markets. Netflix ranks No. 1 overall among tech workers, followed by Google, Tesla, SpaceX and Airbnb. All five of those California-headquartered companies entice candidates with unique benefits, flexible schedules, opportunities to learn new skills and more.

On the local level, companies in other parts of the U.S. stood out. Grocery delivery service Peapod is the No. 5 top employer in Chicago, marketing software platform HubSpot ranks fifth among its Boston neighbors, Tumblr parent company Oath came in sixth among New York tech companies and, for the second year in a row, Shopify is No. 1 in Toronto.

Related: The Surprising Reason Why an Open Office Space May Not Be Great for Your Company

To learn the secrets to their success, Entrepreneur reached out to executives at the four companies above. We asked them:

“What’s one initiative unique to your company that you’ve implemented in the past year that has had measurable results toward making people in your organization thrive in terms of focus, productivity, creativity, collaboration or culture?”

Check out their responses (edited for length and clarity) below.


Paula Whitesell, vice president of human resources

“In 2018, Peapod moved to a new headquarters in downtown Chicago, transitioning from being in four different locations across Chicago to one space for all our office employees. Great efforts were made to create an environment that fosters collaboration and helps our employees love what they do. With that in mind, we went from an office structure with high wall cubes and closed office doors to an open floor plan.

“The new layout increased our speed of decision-making, collaboration and communication across teams. Our employees now are able to grab a huddle room, connect for a stand-up meeting or meet up with a colleague in the Pod Cafe over a cup of coffee.

“We also made enhancements to our family leave and paid time off programs to encourage our employees to find time to rejuvenate, clear their minds and create new memories.”   


Katie Burke, chief people officer

“Beyond time off and vacation, we want to build the kind of company where employees can grow both professionally and personally. The kind of company where instead of work-life balance, employees have work-life fit.

“Over the past year, we’ve reinvested in our commitment to creating a flexible work environment, with a focus on family. Programs and benefits we’ve implemented to support this initiative include extended paid parental leave (16 weeks for primary and six weeks for secondary caregivers), an egg-freezing subsidy, our Returners Program (for those transitioning back into the workforce), our ParentSpot global employee resource group and a partnership with Werk.

“We’ve been able to implement these initiatives because of the feedback, ideas and vulnerability of our employees.”

Related: Top 150 Company Cultures in America of 2018


Chris Strazzella, global head of recruiting

“Diversity alone has not been enough to engender more diversity. We know that inclusion is equally important to sustaining diverse workforces and realizing the full potential of human capital.

“With this in mind, we’ve launched nine employee resource groups since Oath was created in 2017. We see these as more than just social networks. Whether it’s an LGBTQI, parents and caregivers, veterans or neurodiversity ERG at your company, all of these groups help bring cultural awareness and advocate for authentic inclusion.

“It started with a commitment at the top. From there it was a matter of engaging global and local leaders to establish core identities within our workforce, defining a framework of integration with the business and promoting their activations both internally and externally.”


Lynsey Thornton, VP of user experience and core product

“This year, Shopify created R&D Summit, a three-day series of talks and workshops led by our internal employees. This initiative is part of our efforts to retain and advance the skills of nearly 1,500 R&D employees, including UX, engineering, data and product teams from across the world.

“Employees want to know that their skills are continuing to improve, which is why this is something we doubled down on this year. Eighty percent of employees surveyed that attended R&D Summit learned a skill outside their discipline.

“We think it’s important to not only build excitement for the problems they’re solving but how they’re using (and growing) their unique skills to solve those problems. Most importantly, these skill advancements show up day to day in the quality of the products we create for our 600,000 merchants around the world.”

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