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What They Do

Enable artists, designers, sellers of vintage items and other creative types to hawk their wares directly to consumers through its website.

What Makes Great

Online artists’ marketplace Etsy is a vibrant community of creative people who care about improving the world. Employees at this fast-growing startup take pride in the company's mission and enjoy social events such as happy hours, Etsyversaries and a talent show.

Despite more than doubling its workforce in the past two years, Etsy has managed to keep a relaxed setting that emphasizes employees’ individuality and autonomy. Employees feel good about their jobs, their coworkers and their contributions to the community, and say working there is fun. They also give management high marks for being honest, ethical and competent, and feel the company gives them the tools they need to get their jobs done. One employee says the company is "considerate of people and its contribution as it affects real people and their livelihoods. Almost everyone I've met at the company shares in these values and derives energy from them."

Inside Story

Not many companies offer silk-screening classes, ski trips and an in-house photo booth. But Etsy is not like most companies. The business is a Certified B-corporation, with dual commitments to benefiting shareholders as well as bettering society by operating within rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

The vast majority (97 percent) of Etsy employees say management is honest and ethical in its business practices. The company’s socially and environmentally responsible ethos is baked into many of its regular practices, including offering locally sourced lunches, a bike room and compost bins. Etsy also supports charitable causes, including matching employees’ donations to Red Cross relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy, and helping more women enter the technology field by sponsoring need-based scholarships for women to attend Hacker School, a three-month IT training program.

Employees take pride in Etsy's mission to build community and help creators and designers who use its marketplace to sell their goods. In fact, 98 percent of employees say they're proud to tell others where they work. According to one employee, "Everyone here feels passionate about helping small businesses."

The company encourages employees’ creativity and individuality as well. New hires receive $100 to spend on the Etsy marketplace to decorate their desks. Staff members share creative or technical talents with coworkers through Etsy School. Their Learning and Development team delivers training in multiple different formats in order to engage employees in whatever learning style best suits them. One employee cited "the freedom to be creative and be yourself every day" as a highlight of working there.

Etsy also makes room for employees to balance their work and personal lives. Employees can bring their dogs to work and 75 percent of employees say they are able to arrange their own work schedules. The Brooklyn, New York, company has satellite offices in Hudson, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Dublin and London and 10 percent of its employees work remotely. Etsy weaves remote workers into the fabric of the company by including them in monthly “Y’all Hands” staff meetings where different teams present what they’re doing, as well as invites them to all social events. "They have gone out of their way to make me feel included and part of the team,” one remote employee says. “For example putting me up for a month while I [completed] boot camp with the team.”

Bettering the world can be fun too. Etsy's open office plan and social events such as happy hours, Etsyaversary hiring-date anniversary celebrations and company parties (featuring a pizza truck and bounce house, in one case) give the company a playful vibe. Ninety-six percent of employees say it's a fun place to work.

Like other startups, Etsy is growing quickly and a majority of employees have only been on the job a short time. In fact, 69 percent have been there two years or less. The youthful, über-laidback setting isn't for everyone. One employee observed that having so many young hires can make it "feel a bit like a dormitory at times." Some employees feel like management could do a better job coordinating work, communicating expectations and involving employees in decisions. "Sometimes the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing," one employee says. The company has, however, made improving the quality of performance feedback a key company-wide goal for 2013. To that end, the company has built their own 360-degree performance feedback tool, and has ensured that everyone from the CEO on down participates in the review process.

Overall, employees enjoy the unique work environment and find management already responsive to their needs. "Any issues are nipped in the bud before they spiral out of the control," one says. "Compared to my last job, it is like I died and went to heaven."

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