What You Should Know
It’s not always the case that employees credit executives for creating a culture that drives both the company's success and their own. At digital consulting firm AnswerLab, however, employees do just that. It may be because the CEO personally invites each employee on a quarterly “Walk n Talk." Or because she provides them all with FitBits to help encourage a healthy lifestyle. Many praise the company’s open communication policy, which includes sharing financials and proactively encouraging employees to share their ideas. All in all, AnswerLab values employees' flexibility and creativity, and responds by providing flexibility in return. The company expects employees to be bold as they work with big-name clients—so reserved types may not fit here. But 100 percent of current employees say people look forward to coming to work.
“I challenge you to find another group of people so well rounded, forward-thinking and collaborative,” says one employee. “I believe this is directly related to our company culture.”
WHAT THEY DO
AnswerLab is a consulting firm focused on user experience research. It offers insights about customer behavior and experience to help clients build digital products and services.
||US Headquarters: San Francisco, California
|US Sites: 2
||Major Locations: San Francisco, CA; New York, NY
|US Employees: 44
||Worldwide Revenues: $9.59 million
|Industry: Professional Services
How much responsibility would I have? What kind of support is there for professional development?
Great Rated! conducted an anonymous survey of randomly selected AnswerLab employees to assess the quality of the workplace challenges the company provides. An average of 95 percent of AnswerLab employees report the company often or almost always provides needed training, fair promotions and personally challenging work. Another 5 percent report the company sometimes provides these opportunities, for a combined positive rating from 100 percent of employees in the Great Challenges category.
AnswerLab has approximately 44 employees in the United States, where they operate two locations and employ full-time team members in five cities.
A striking 100 percent of employees say they carry a lot of responsibility in the organization, and almost as many (98 percent) say that managers trust them to carry out these responsibilities without micromanaging them. For the vast majority of employees (90 percent), their work at AnswerLab is more than just a job: the chance to "improve the digital world" provides special meaning.
At AnswerLab, 88 percent of employees feel they receive the training and development they need to further their careers. While it is often difficult for companies to ensure that promotions are awarded fairly across organizations, at AnswerLab, 98 percent say that promotions consistently go to those who best deserve them, exceeding what one can typically expect even at the very best companies in the country.
Supporting Employee Development
- Average annual training for full-time salaried employees: 20 hours
- AnswerLab offers seven to eight training sessions per quarter through its AnswerLab University, with courses taught by senior level team members. Employees create professional goals with their managers each quarter and the company's resourcing manager considers people's personal goals when assigning projects.
The company encourages me to maintain a healthy lifestyle through financial support of fitness and exercise as well as creative work challenges.
What would my colleagues be like? How do people have fun? How formal a workplace is it?
An average of 97 percent of AnswerLab employees say they often or almost always enjoy their colleagues and find their workplace to be fun and cooperative. Another 2 percent sometimes benefits from these qualities, for a combined positive rating from 99 percent of employees in the Great Atmosphere category.
Based in San Francisco, AnswerLab operates an office in New York and has remote employess working in Chicago, Detroit, San Diego, Washington, DC and Pittsburgh. Employees once took a printmaking class all together, and the result was two enormous handmade prints of each coast's iconic bridge. In order to keep their colleagues in mind, the San Francisco office features the print of the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York office features their print of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The offices also feature open floor plans fostering collaboration, social spaces, private spaces, team meeting areas and options for both seated and standing desks. Their newest offices each feature a "living room" area that includes a flat panel TV around which employees sometimes gather to watch the Olympics or other newsworthy events.
Fun and Celebrations
- Every month, the team gathers to celebrate birthdays, and management organizes happy hours for special occasions and impromptu events. In keeping with the company's support for personal development, their annual holiday party highlights employees' proudest personal accomplishments for the year.
- Employees participate in team building activities following the quarterly company meetings. In 2013, AnswerLab took the entire company to 3 Fish Studios in San Francisco where everyone participated in a printmaking class.
Caring and Support
- The company allows all employees opportunities to work from home or work flexible schedules, which comes in handy during family emergencies. When an employee loses a family member or loved one, the company makes a donation to the employee's charity of choice in honor of the deceased.
People celebrate special events around here.
AnswerLab really cares about its employees. The management is always trying to further change and make it a great place to work. This has been the first company I have worked for that cares about its employees' personal development as well as their contribution to the company.
What kind of perks and benefits are part of the employment package? What is the work-life balance like? Does the company appreciate hard work?
An average of 88 percent of AnswerLab employees often or almost always find the company compensates them fairly, provides special and unique benefits, supports their work-life balance and shows genuine appreciation for their contributions. Another 10 percent reports they sometimes receive these benefits as well, for a combined positive rating from 98 percent of employees in the Great Rewards category.
Management and peers readily acknowledge achievement. At every quarterly company meeting, we publicly recognize team members who go the extra mile with an award. We also make a point of acknowledging new hires and promotions at that time, too.
COMPENSATION BY THE NUMBERS
|30 hours Weekly hours at which part-timers receive healthcare coverage
|75% Company-paid health coverage for employees
|30% Company-paid health coverage for dependents
PERKS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER
- Free snacks during the day
- Free beverages during the day
WORK-LIFE BALANCE BY THE NUMBERS
|29 days Holidays & vacation days after one year of employment
||60 days Job Protected Leave maternity provided above and beyond FMLA
|10 days Paid leave for adoptive parents
WORK-LIFE BALANCE PROGRAMS
- Flexible Schedule (100% use it)
- Lactation Rooms
- Telecommute Option (95% use it)
I am able to take time off from work when I think it's necessary.
People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life.
We have flexible work hours, lots of autonomy and the ability to work from home.
HEALTH INSURANCE COVERS
- Dental care
- Prescription drug subsidy
- Alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, or chiropractic
- Vision care
- Mental health care
- Fertility treatments
ONSITE HEALTH BENEFITS
- Cholesterol Tests
- Flu Shots
- Blood Pressure Screening
- Subsidized Offsite Gym Memberships
What inspires employees' company spirit here? Do people stand by their teams' work? What impact do people have outside the organization?
An average of 96 percent of AnswerLab employees report that they often or almost always carry meaningful responsibilities within the organization and are proud of their accomplishments, community impact, and the company's reputation in the world. Another 4 percent report that they sometimes experience this pride as well, for a combined positive rating from 100 percent of employees in the Great Pride category.
Market leaders, including Amazon, AT&T, PayPal, Walmart, Honda, Google, ESPN, FedEx, Genentech and Microsoft rely on AnswerLab research. Although it is a small firm with just 44 employees, AnswerLab is growing and expanding into new markets.
I'm proud to tell others I work here.
There is a strong sense that we're all in this together at AnswerLab. Even though we're not working on the same projects, we all have similar challenges and support each other in our work.
Supporting the community
- Paid time to volunteer per employee per year: 48 hours
- Philanthropic donations in the last year: $15,085
- In addition to volunteering for local nonprofits, AnswerLab employees participate in pro bono work to aid the digital efforts of nonprofits.
I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community.
I have such a sense of pride to work for a company that aims to make the world a better place and not only encourages but is actively involved in giving back initiatives.
How easy is it to talk with managers and get the information I need? Will managers listen to my input?
An average of 96 percent of AnswerLab employees say they often or almost always experience a free and transparent exchange of ideas and information within the organization. Another 4 percent sometimes has this experience as well, for a combined positive rating from 100 percent of employees in the Great Communication category.
AnswerLab operates across two locations and employs people in research, sales and management roles.
AnswerLab employees say that management does a good job of keeping them in the loop. Nearly all (98 percent) say management is approachable, easy to talk with and genuinely seeks and responds to their suggestions and ideas. The vast majority (93 percent) also agree that management makes its expectations clear and 95 percent of employees feel that they can ask management any reasonable question and get a straight answer.
Management is extremely transparent with how the company is doing, shares financials and sets a clear path for what we need to achieve each quarter.
What are managers' leadership strengths?
An average of 93 percent of AnswerLab employees say their managers often or almost always act with integrity and care, are competent in their positions, and provide clear directions and vision for the organization. Another 7 percent say their managers sometimes display these characteristics, for a combined positive rating from 100 percent of employees in the Great Bosses category.
AnswerLab employees widely appreciate the friendliness and collaboration their leaders encourage at the company. Employees also portray leaders as having a great deal of integrity and business savvy. One hundred percent of surveyed employees believe management is honest and ethical in its business practices and delivers on its promises. Nearly as many (98 percent) also agree that management's actions match its words. In addition, 95 percent of employees say leaders are competent at running the business, and 93 percent say leaders have a clear view of where the organization is going and how to get there. Leaders also care about staffers, employees say: 95 percent report that management shows a sincere interest in them as a person, not just an employee.
The culture is so unique, and that starts with our amazing CEO. She inspires us all to work hard, but don't take yourself too seriously. She will be the first to call out when she has made a mistake and embrace the learnings that comes from that.
Great Perks and Programs
- Be Healthy Benefits. Each new employee receives a FitBit from the CEO to help him or her track steps and stay in shape. The CEO also does "walk and talks" with each employee, and the team undertakes regular FitBit challenges that encourage employees to walk more and be healthy.
- Tech Benefit. Each employee receives $400 per year to spend on any new technology to help ensure that employees stay on the cutting edge.
- Holiday Party and Meeting. Once each year, all employees are flown to the company's headquarters in San Francisco for an annual meeting and holiday party, helping to create an integrated community among the far-flung staff.
- Anniversary Gifts. AnswerLab awards gifts to mark employees' yearly anniversaries with the company, ranging from logo merchandise to restaurant gift cards to an additional "tech benefit" award of $400 to purchase a new tech item of the employee's choice.
- Employee Awards. Each quarter, managers nominate team members to receive the Core Values Award, which is a $50 gift card and goes to those who have demonstrated AnswerLab's core values in their work. Begining in October 2014 AnswerLab will also be awarding quarterly Top Performer Awards, which come with a cash gift of $300
Great Rated! collected feedback from AnswerLab employees via an anonymous survey. Following are common reasons employees said they appreciate their workplace.
"One of the most impressive things to me has been our CEO's personal commitment to conduct walk and talk meetings with every single employee on an annual basis. She is down to earth and approachable, while still being a highly inspiring and strong leader."
"I'm surrounded by smart, enthusiastic, hardworking people who are fun, likeable, and show genuine respect for each other."
"The hiring process is robust and ensures only people who are a good fit for the company and the rest of the team are hired. There are unique perks, like our tech benefit and be healthy benefit. And although I appreciate the flexibility of being able to work from home when I need or want to, I genuinely enjoy the people I work with and look forward to seeing everyone on the days I'm in the office."
"The fabric of the people makes it feel like a family. This, then, continues through to a real team atmosphere where people will pitch in to make the impossible happen —and have fun along the way."
"AnswerLab is full of wonderful people working on unique products with wonderful clients."
"There is a strong sense that we're all in this together at AnswerLab. Even though we're not working on the same projects, we all have similar challenges and support each other in our work."
"I work with a fun and smart group of people who are excited to come to work every day and love what they do. Our company is very focused on hiring people who fit into our company culture, so we are able to maintain that culture through growth. I'm impressed with how true we have kept to our roots through lots of growth and change."
"I really appreciate the health and tech benefits we get here. I also thrive on the fact that I can work remotely much of the time, thus allowing me to be around my family more and on the road less."
"AnswerLab has a unique and family culture that motivates and inspires you to bring new and fresh ideas to the table. I am given the time and materials to fulfill and execute any ideas I've had, and the support from the management and other colleagues is amazing and invaluable."
"Opportunities for career growth are plenty. There is room to explore different methodologies, verticals and even roles."
"Management asks us for our viewpoint before making big changes that affect us, like regarding compensation or workspace. I feel like people are really valued here."
"We are so fortunate to have such a passionate group of researchers who are focused on doing the right thing by our clients and helping to grow our business and brand. I challenge you to find another group of people so well rounded, forward-thinking and collaborative. I believe this is directly related to our company culture, the clear vision we have as a company and to the individual goals we've set for ourselves."
How to Get Hired
We asked AnswerLab for some inside information on how to get hired at the organization. Here is what they had to say.
What key characteristics tell you a prospective employee will be a great fit for your company?
Prospective employees share our core values: Build Trust, Jump in to Help Others, Innovate our Products and Processes, Figure it out and Get it Done, Make AnswerLab a Great place to work. All of our behavioral interview questions are focused on understanding if prospective employees embody these personal values, and we look for concrete examples of how they apply these principles in their everyday lives.
What can prospective employees do to get your attention?
Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and read our blog, and bring this understanding of AnswerLab to the application process. Demonstrate that you know who we are, what we're about and what's important to us, and then show us how that aligns with your interests and experience. It's not enough that people think technology is cool or fun or that they want to work with some of our great clients. Build up a track record of directly relevant hands-on experience that demonstrates your passion and tenacity in our field. Also, be present at the networking and events where AnswerLab has a presence, and don't be shy about introducing yourself and directly expressing interest. Our employees need to be confident and bold to work with our sophisticated clients, so showing boldness and reaching out to us will bode well for your ability to be successful here overall.
Are there any unusual or especially rigorous steps of your hiring process that candidates should be aware of?
All candidates for AnswerLab will have a hands-on exercise that requires them to demonstrate the skills required for the position in addition to their interviews. There is a written and presentation component to evaluate communication skills, which is key to every role in AnswerLab. These activities take place during a day-long on-site visit with as many team members as possible, and we also have a "meet and greet" so that the candidate and team members have the opportunity to get to know each other in a social setting as well. The primary goal of this process is to ensure that the candidate has a concrete, hands-on experience of what the role is about, that we have an opportunity to fully vet their skill set in an applied way and that we get a feel for whether there is a natural cultural fit when the team and the candidate are socializing together.
Are there any positions or types of candidates you are particularly focused on hiring in this coming year?
This year we are growing both our sales and UX researcher teams. We encourage interested applicants to apply.
What should interested candidates do to find out more and get started?
Candidates should spend time on our website getting to know AnswerLab, closely reviewing our job descriptions and submitting an application via the links provided on our site (http://answerlab.com/company/working-at-answerlab/). They should also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to ensure they're aware of any future opportunities that may come along.
||125Average number of applicants per opening
|1168Applicants in past year
||13Openings in past year
|80%New hires by employee referrals