Traditions Play Huge Roles in Maintaining the Culture at These 5 Austin Companies

September 25, 2019

The faces, offices, and products of a company may evolve drastically over time. But a set of engaging traditions can keep even the busiest companies, and the people that power them, grounded for years to come. 

We spoke with five Austin tech companies about the significance of their favorite traditions, and how they’re indicative of their overall company culture. 

 

Volusion team members painting
Volusion

You may not be the founder of a company, but Volusion still encourages you to think and act like one. Recruiter Zoe Stanley said it’s easy to have an entrepreneurial mentality at the e-commerce solution provider because they have infrastructure in place that directly supports that mindset.

 

What is your favorite company tradition and why?

I love Volusion's founder workshops because they instill creativity. On a quarterly basis Volusioneers sign up to learn a new skill and create something. We've had workshops on candle-making, painting, woodworking, improv, cocktail making and much more.

On a quarterly basis Volusioneers sign up to learn a new skill and create something.”

 

How did this tradition come to be, and how does it reflect your company culture as a whole?

We embrace a culture that supports founder mentality. Being a founder means that you get to explore your entrepreneurial spirit and through this, you may find a new passion. We want to spark a light in our Volusioneers to inspire them and give them the confidence to maybe even start their own business one day. 

 

Kenda Scott team members dressed as cheerleaders
kendra scott

According to Marketing Communications Manager Emily Hammet, everyone at e-commerce retailer Kendra Scott takes Halloween very seriously. Spurred by their founder and CEO, after whom the company was named, team members participate in elaborate costume contests and take time to hang out with one another for one of their biggest celebrations of the year. 

 

What is your favorite company tradition and why?

Celebrating Halloween is our favorite company tradition. Even our holiday party is overshadowed by the total office takeover that happens on October 31st. My favorite part is the department costume competition. Our team has dressed up in everything from Thriller zombies to the “KS Spirit Squad” to Harry Potter. It's so much fun seeing everyone get into the spirit.

Kendra has always rallied the entire company to make Halloween our most fun day of the year.”

 

How did this tradition come to be, and how does it reflect your company culture as a whole?

Our founder Kendra has always rallied the entire company to make Halloween our most fun day of the year — and it gets bigger each year. Halloween is the perfect reflection of our company culture because it's truly a celebration of our family pillar. We take a break from the everyday workload and spend a day dancing around and getting to know our coworkers a little better.

 

CognitiveScale team members at dinner
CognitiveScale

What do you get when you have a ground-level, employee-led organization that internalizes cultural problems until the roster of the C-suite staff is impacted drastically and positively? You get the “Change Salon” at the AI and machine learning solution provider CognitiveScale. Vice President of People Kendall Collier discussed what the initiative is and how significant it has been in building the company’s culture.

 

What's your favorite company tradition, and why?

It has to be the “Change Salon” because I think it really speaks to who we are. The Change Salon is an employee-led group that gets together quarterly to discuss and take action on relevant issues that are facing society and the workforce today. At the end of each meeting, the team decides on actions we can all take individually and as a group. Those actions are presented to the leadership team with anonymized feedback on what needs to be improved and suggested actions to each problem. 

Last year the Change Salon discussed an article that pointed to the effort employers are pouring into advancing women in the workplace and why are they making so little headway. This led to a series of discussions around gender equality and action points that we as a company need to do to bridge this gap. That feedback was provided to the leadership team and as a direct result, we have four women on the executive team at CognitiveScale when we previously had none. That can be largely attributed to the feedback from Change Salon. The team told leadership what mattered to them, and leadership took action.

Feedback was provided to the leadership team and as a direct result, we have four women on the executive team.”

 

How did this tradition come to be, and how does it reflect your company culture as a whole?

We want a work environment that not only drives innovation in our products, but also leads to overall well-being. We have made a conscious effort towards fostering a culture of “do good, have fun and prosper together”. Change Salon aptly represents our values, especially courage — to speak up about doing the right thing — and responsibility for driving positive change in society. 

 

Datical team members gathered in meeting area
Liquibase

Liquibase’s Sales Engineer Mike Olivas said lunch plays a huge role in keeping team members united, and has throughout the history of the company. What started as a way for a small team to reflect on the previous work week, has turned into a culture-building informational session attended by many more employees, followed by lots of conviviality and catered food.

 

What's your favorite company tradition, and why?

My favorite company tradition is our Friday all-hands meeting and lunch because it’s a time where the whole company gets together to break bread. We make it a priority to meet in the main common area and share information about the company as a whole, with a different employee leading the meeting each week. This time also allows employees to step away from their busy day to catch up with fellow co-workers. Once the all-hands meeting ends, we break away to a catered buffet and enjoy a meal and great conversation together.

The Friday lunch reflects our company culture of fostering collaboration — sharing and working as a team.”

 

How did this tradition come to be, and how does it reflect your company culture as a whole?

The tradition started from the very beginning of the company days — seven years ago — as a way for the team to get together and discuss the week that just passed and get a jump on the weekend. As the company grew, it continued on as a way of helping the entire company stay in touch with what was going on. 

The Friday lunch reflects our company culture of fostering collaboration — sharing and working as a team. The team works well together, and it shows. The lunch provides a way for us to get together to get to know fellow employees on a deeper level. Friday lunch is also one of the first places new hires meet the rest of the company and get a sense of the camaraderie of the team culture, typically before their first official start date.

 

NSS Labs’s team members holding trophies
NSS Labs

Who doesn’t love winning awards — especially if earning them means you’ve helped other people succeed along the way? According to NSS Labs’s Chief of Staff and Vice President of Human Resources Susan Bollinger, this is the kind of recognition that the cybersecurity consultancy and solution provider loves to formally give to its staff. 

 

What is your favorite company tradition and why?

My favorite company tradition is our “Rockstar and Unsung Hero Awards”. Employees nominate their peers for these awards quarterly to recognize outstanding contributions and actions that align with NSS Labs’ core values. These awards reward employees who have gone above and beyond, and recognize significant contributions that represent our core values. We celebrate employees across all facets of the organization through these awards.

When you look across the NSS Labs team, their efforts are very similar to those of a big rock band.”

 

How did this tradition come to be, and how does it reflect your company culture as a whole?

The Rockstar and the Unsung Hero Awards began in 2016, the same year we established our core values. They were rolled out as part of our continued efforts to attract and retain top talent through our NSS Labs Rewards and Recognition program. 

When you look across the NSS Labs team, their efforts are very similar to those of a big rock band. In any great band, there is a lead singer and many backup singers. The Rockstar Award recognizes employees whose jobs include high-profile activity that impact product and sales, while the Unsung Hero Award recognizes employees whose contributions are invaluable to the backbone of our organization, but whose work is often done with little fanfare in the background to support other NSS Labs teams. We have a culture that is shaped by the creative ideas and input of employees, and believe that’s what makes these awards unique.

 

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