Ah, the employee handbook. Everyone has had the experience of receiving a weighty tome full of policies, disclosures and legalese on the first day of work. You have to sign a document to attest that you received it. And then you throw it in the recycling bin, unread.
At Bonusly we like to be agile (lowercase 'a') about everything we do. In that spirit, our handbook lays out our values and guiding principles (and a small number of progressive policies) -- in an open-source document that’s easy to read and understand. And because it’s hosted in a public GitHub repo, anyone can view how it changes over time and submit pull requests to update it.
Without further ado, here is the Bonusly Employee Un-Handbook.
Table of Contents
What We Believe
At Bonusly, we believe...
- Success in business is determined by people, working on teams, to solve novel problems.
- The era of rote and repetitive work is at an end. The jobs of today (& tomorrow) require:
- Collaboration, to leverage unique perspectives and expertise across domains.
- Creativity, to find novel solutions to difficult problems.
- Responsiveness, to adapt to rapidly changing landscape of technologies, customers, and competitors.
- The way we work must change radically. Current "best practices" are designed for jobs that no longer exist.
This belief inspires us to...
- Maximize the conditions for collaboration, creativity, and responsiveness:
- Purpose - the sense that your job is important and you are having an impact
- Transparency - easy access to information about your team's goals and performance
- Feedback - on your performance so that you can learn and improve
- Community - the bond you share with colleagues as your strive toward a common goals
- Empowerment - the confidence and autonomy to experiment, learn, and then take action
We work toward a future in which...
- Autonomy & ownership is maximized.
- Information is explicit and shared, never hoarded.
- Employees are encouraged to experiment, learn, and act.
These values are what we value at Bonusly. They aren’t just nice-sounding words on a poster somewhere, but a succinct description of our culture and what it’s like to work here. We use these values to guide our day-to-day activities and decision-making, from how we respond to customer emails to the roles we hire for to the features we build.
The initial list of these values were created at our first company retreat, when Bonusly was a team of seven people. By Q3 2018 we had grown to 22 people, and decided it was time for an update. We spent a half-day soliciting input from the entire team, which the leadership team then synthesized into an updated set of values that was shared with the whole company in November 2018.
- Go get results
- Be an excellent teammate
- Default to transparency
- Work smarter
- Seek and embrace diversity
- Delight the customer
Go get results
Embodying this value means:
- Bias toward action
- Try things that might not work
- Focus on results, not inputs
- Release, iterate, improve
- Take responsibility for understanding context and goals
You can think of this value in two parts: “go get” and “results”. The first part speaks to our strong bias toward action. If there’s something you want to make, improve, change, or get rid of -- go do it. Need input or feedback? Chat with some colleagues on Slack. Need copywriting, engineering or design resources? Recruit those colleagues by rallying them to your cause. Whatever you do, avoid what Netflix calls “analysis paralysis”.
The second part (“results”) speaks to the primacy of outputs. We care about inputs to the extent that we want to Work smarter and be finding more efficient, effective ways to produce better outputs. Beyond that, what matters is getting the work done and measuring the impact of this work after completing it. Do the results match up with your goals? Is there more room for improvement? Were there unintended consequences (good or bad)?
In practice, this is challenging. In order to go get results, we must understand current goals and priorities, and cost/benefit tradeoffs (ie. go for the quick win that costs little, or spend more time on a robust solution?). Our core value of Default to transparency should ensure that the information you need is available to you, but if it isn't, go seek it out.
Be an excellent teammate
Embodying this value means:
- Be proactive and assertive
- Solicit feedback and input
- Be radically candid
- Listen first
- Assume the best
- Be there for others
- Teach & encourage
- Solve problems together
We believe that success is achieved by people working on teams. As such, it is critical that we be the best teammates possible to one another. This means being proactive and assertive in your communication: asking for what you need, providing candid, constructive feedback, and voicing your opinions and ideas. It also means listening to, supporting, and encouraging your colleagues -- especially at times of disagreement and stress. And last but not least, it means having fun with your teammates!
Default to transparency
Embodying this value means:
- Take responsibility to share information that may help others (with context)
- Share what you’ve learned
- Be vulnerable - talk about mistakes, failures, and bad news
- Create an environment where it’s easy to get information
(We took this phrasing from Buffer. Thanks, Buffer.)
In order to act on our values, particularly those of Work smarter and Go get results, individuals must be equipped with the information they need to make good decisions. That information consists of metrics, results and other data, as well as the contextual information to help them understand that data and use it to make good decisions.
We don’t just occasionally share our internal metrics -- we make them available in real time. Any member of Bonusly can log in to our internal dashboard and see our up-to-date metrics: revenue, churn, LTV, response time, uptime, etc. This ensures that people have the information they need to come up with novel solutions and act on them.
Just posting information isn't enough, however. Sharing context is also necessary. So, we have monthly all-hands meetings and post explainers in Slack so that team members don't just see our numbers, priorities, and goals, but understand what they mean.
On an individual level, we candidly share stories of our successes, failures, challenges, and interests so that we can learn from and support one another.
In discussing this value, there was some concern that "default" made it sound too passive but we ultimately came to feel that "default" is the appropriate word. As dedicated product people, we understand the power of defaults. To make something the default means that people will always do that thing, unless there is a very compelling reason not to. We understand that some information must be kept confidential or compartmentalized. But this value ensures that sharing is the rule, concealing is the exception.
Embodying this value means:
- Question why/how we do things
- Iterate on current processes
- Optimize how you work
- Always be learning
- Make data-informed decisions (when possible)
- Figure out how we can "punch above our weight"
- Embrace & learn from negative results
At Bonusly, we’re able to move quickly and effectively with a very small team by ensuring that every team member is not simply executing on tactical-level tasks, but is also evaluating, improving, (and ideally automating) how those tasks get executed. Moreover, team members are encouraged to question if specific tasks are even necessary, and seek growth via subtraction.
Working smarter also means knowing yourself and how you work best. Where do you work best? With what tools? At what times? How much R&R do you need in order to perform at your best? What skills/knowledge do you need to acquire in order to take your output to the next level? At Bonusly, you have the freedom, and the responsibility, to answer these questions for yourself.
Seek and embrace diversity
Embodying this value means:
- Actively learn about and work to mitigate your own biases
- Make sure our product is inclusive
- Seek representation & inclusion (even at the expense of other goals)
- Build inclusivity & bias mitigation into our processes
- Expect it to be hard and uncomfortable sometimes
Our industry has well-documented problems when it comes to workplace diversity. This fact makes it easy for tech companies to skew everything from their employment policies to the features they develop toward the needs of the dominant group - which is both a disservice to our customers and reinforces the lack of diversity in our industry.
Our dedication to diversity goes beyond simply putting equal opportunity copy on our job descriptions. We use tools (like Textio) to eliminate gender bias from the language of our job postings, and actively seek out applicants from diverse backgrounds. And we invite feedback from job applicants and employees alike about how we can better embrace diversity. We all have unconscious biases, and welcome your help in identifying and mitigating them. And in the spirit of measuring results, we track and share our diversity numbers on a quarterly basis.
On an individual level, employees help create an inclusive and welcoming environment first by learning about how privilege and bias can work to exclude certain voices in the workplace. For example, meetings are often a situation in which women, minorities, and people with reserved personalities struggle to be heard. If you are someone who feels comfortable and confident in meetings and usually speaks early and often, try asking for input from your colleagues before giving your opinion. Encourage others who do speak up by practicing active listening and thanking them for their input.
On a product level, we strive to build a software tools that are inclusive and welcoming to all, and will hold ourselves accountable for how our product is used by our customers.
Delight the customer
Embodying this value means:
- Provide a delightful experience
- Make it fun & easy
- Deliver value over the long term
- Take time to listen to and empathize with the customer
- Be accountable for how people experience our product and company
This is a value as old as business itself, but it’s fundamental to how we operate at Bonusly. We are a business, and the only way we can stay in business is by attracting and retaining customers.
From the very start of Bonusly, we've focused on building a product that our customers find easy, fun, and useful. We pride ourselves on making the work a more fun, fulfilling, and positive experience for all our users - day after day, month after month, and year after year.
To that end, everyone at Bonusly focuses on the customer -- their needs, challenges, feedback, ideas, and behaviors. This focus is foundational to everything we do, because we don’t just serve customers -- we delight them.
We want you to take the time you need to refresh and recharge. Many startups offer a simple “unlimited vacation” policy. We view this as lazy policymaking at best and at worst an attempt to subtly discourage employees from taking vacation.
Instead, we set a minimum expected vacation. Our expectation is that everyone (including founders and early hires) will take a minimum of 2 weeks (10 days) vacation per year. If you have taken less than two weeks of vacation in a calendar year, expect your manager to talk to you about it.
We also embrace a more nuanced view of time off. At our last company retreat, we asked the team to talk about what they valued in their time off. Unsurprisingly, we want the freedom to mix work and free time in different ways. Here are some examples of what Bonusly employees do, which we encourage you to do as well:
- Travel while still working about half time (a “workcation”).
- Take breaks on nice days to go hiking/biking.
- Take occasional 3-day weekends.
- Go away on a longer (week+) vacation where you fully disconnect from work.
Can you truly take unlimited vacation? Of course not. You can't expect to take 6 months of paid vacation per year. But, there is also not a hard limit on the number of days off per year that you can take. Between longer vacations and random days off here and there, a typical employee will take off up to 25 days per year. Can you take more than that? Sure, but we'd recommend having a coversation with your manager about it ahead of time.
Bonusly observes all US federal holidays, plus the day after Thanksgiving.
One important policy that many early-stage startups ignore is parental leave. We believe that having a great parental leave plan is critical to attracting and retaining top talent who are parents or want to become parents. Parental leave is for any kind of parent, mother or father, by birth, adoption, or surrogacy.
We offer 9 weeks paid parental leave, to be taken anytime during your child's first 6 months with you. This is less than we would like, so as we grow we'll increase the amount of paid leave.
Also, new parents (mothers or fathers) can bring their immobile infants to work with them. Your new little one is welcome to tag along to work until six months or crawling, whichever comes first.
Bonusly offers generous health/dental/vision benefits that are significantly more comprehensive than industry average. Employees can also extend their insurance benefits to spouse and dependent children. "Spouse" includes partners through marriage, civil union, or registered domestic partnerships.
401k with Employer Matching
Bonusly offers a 401k with employer matching through Guideline.
Bonusly will subsidize 80% of approved professional development expenses, up to $200 per employee per year.
Bonusly will subsidize 80% of approved wellness expenses (e.g. gym membership, yoga classes), up to $200 per employee per year.
Boulder HQ-based employees are eligible for the free EcoPass program. Remote employees are eligible to receive a 25% reimbursement on a monthly transit pass.
Bonusly for Bonusly Employees
Every employee has a generous budget to give out in bonuses to their colleagues. You can redeem your earnings for gift cards, cash, and charitable donations, and we're always excited about suggestions for new rewards to add to our catalog!
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