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Case Study: How This Inc 5000 Company Tripled Its Workforce in 2 Years While Driving Engagement

Colton Leonard

Colton Leonard is Chief Culture Officer at Nutrabolt, a fast-growing INC 5000 company in the nutritional supplement market that was named a #5 Best Company to Work for In Texas.

In this guest post, he describes how they drive engagement for a rapidly growing, distributed team of 176+ throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany.

NOTE: Download the PDF version so you can read it later.

Rapid Growth? Yes. Lose Our Culture? Not an Option.

In the last two years, Nutrabolt has gone from 60 to more than 176 people. My purpose is to make sure we never lose sight of the things that got us to where we are.

We have a bit of a startup culture. We're both laid back and performance-driven. We don't ask people to clock in and out. The schedule is on them. We still have rules, but there's also a lot of trust. Get your job done. The rest is up to you.

Nutrabolt - Sports Nutrition. It's What We Do.

One-Third of Employees Are On the Road.

Close to one-third of our staff is out on the road as outside sales members servicing regional stores. The remainder work at headquarters in Bryan, Texas. Having so many people out on the road means we need to communicate constantly so people feel connected and know what's going on.

Our Secret Sauce for Driving Engagement for a Distributed Workforce

We've launched a few initiatives to bridge the gaps for employees who are out on the road.

1. Events. Events. Events.

We've had a lot of success with using events to build engagement. We put a lot of things out there. We also have a strong wellness program. Our headquarters includes a fitness facility with a basketball court, CrossFit, weights, and cardio equipment.

2. Have a Mantra People Really Believe In

One of the first things we did when I became head of Culture was to establish a vision statement and a core message based on our values. I wanted team members to feel this message in their hearts, regardless of who they were. "Grow and Give Back" has become our mantra--our very own "Just Do It." We have a huge philanthropic initiative here that's really driving engagement. Not every team member may aspire to be "The Highest Achieving Nutritional Life Sciences Company," but we've found that people who are right for our organization are inspired to "Grow and Give Back." Our CEO loves it. It's easy to say and remember. And it's helping us to recruit senior leaders, too, who tell me this message is one of the reasons they joined.  

3. Give shout-outs often.

We've established a few outlets to encourage people to share stories about team successes, and to make it easy for team members to give each other shout-outs. Our employee recognition program recognizes team members who go above and beyond. People are constantly giving encouragement and celebrating each other's accomplishments.

Why We Decided We Needed an Intranet

We wanted to revamp and re-launch our intranet so we could use it as a communications tool to drive engagement. Managers have been using a variety of systems and programs to provide their teams with information. But it's hard for people to know where to look. We wanted to centralize information, news, and documents.

For us, engagement means people are plugged in, actively participating in events, and excited to come to work. They're getting the communications. They're hearing information in the right way. They know where to find information when they need it.

Events drive a lot of our engagement. Communication drives participation at events. Therefore, engagement depends on communication.

We also wanted to encourage better connection through storytelling. We tell managers to stay on the lookout for great stories from the outside team to share with the group -- and vice versa. The intranet is perfect for that.

We Tried the DIY Approach  

We really liked the idea of giving Team Nutrabolt a "Facebook" of its own. So we tried to build it ourselves with staff developers. But they got bogged down with supporting the sites where we sell products. The intranet fell by the wayside. In the meantime, we were struggling to communicate at the level we wanted.

Why Communifire?

Intranet Software - Communifire

1. A central place for information and communication.

People want to know what's going on in other areas of the business, and we wanted a centralized way to share documents, information, and events, from yoga to lunch-and-learns to birthdays. On Communifire:

  • Information is segmented through spaces. This gives us the ability to customize to our needs, which is great.
  • Calendars increase event participation. One calendar shows all events to increase awareness and participation. After the event is over, we can post about it.

2. Shout-outs become a natural part of people's workflows.

We're looking to use Communifire as an outlet to recognize team members and to give shout-outs. We know this is a great way to drive engagement for our culture. Possibly even the number one way.

3. We didn't have to build a custom solution.

Communifire has all features I want, and the user experience is easy to tailor. I like being able to jump in and make the Home page our own to organize and display high-priority content like event photos. A nice, clean-looking dashboard is now in front of everyone. The Axero team is customizing a feature to allow us to post photos to activity feeds. Our team does a lot of that type of stuff.  

Looking Ahead to the Future.

KPIs of engagement. Now that we've gotten the intranet set up, we're looking to start driving engagement to the website, setting up KPIs so we can track that. Our marketing and communications team member is working with the team at Axero to do that.

Can't wait for the mobile app. I'm really excited about the mobile app. We know it's next up on the product road map. Sending push notifications and giving users access on their phones will be huge.

Even more content! We want our intranet to be an active place with lots of high-quality content. We envision people communicating through the home screen and through the activity feeds. Lots of conversations between employees, leaders, and managers. That's what I envision when I think of engagement on our intranet. We're moving in that direction!

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions and author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. He’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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