It’s not surprising that a company that has set out to revolutionize recruiting would be a great place to work. From day one, Lever has put a high premium on building a great company culture and fostering a positive work environment. They’ve even designated a Chief of Staff — Jennifer Kim — who has assumed the responsibility of nurturing Lever’s culture with gusto. Jen is charting exciting new territory by thinking in innovative and deliberate ways about fostering a highly productive and meaningful culture. Lever walks the talk in deliberately providing employees the environment and the benefits that show that each employee is valued.
How does Lever work?
Talent and recruiting are the most important functions in a company, and we set out to build a tool that everybody, from the c-suite to the most junior employees, loves to use. For startups especially, all team members should be empowered to get involved in recruiting. The best hiring is done by the people who are closest to the job, and so we created a shared, collaborative workspace that allows the hiring manager and the extended team to be part of the entire process. With Lever, the recruiter serves as a strategic partner as opposed to administrator.
What are some of the characteristics of Lever’s culture?
We are proud to be a design-driven company; it means taking the steps necessary to deeply understand a problem, challenge every preconceived assumption, and coming up with creative solutions that address the end-user’s needs. This method of thinking isn’t just limited to design or product teams — it’s a skill we’re teaching to the whole company through classes, workshops, and ongoing discussion.
We are also extremely collaborative — very few things here are done in silos. People care – they want to give input and care about quality.
Lever employees, nicknamed “Leveroos”, are big learners. There’s a constant striving for improvement and personal and professional growth, which plays out in so many different ways. One of the themes that’s come up over and over in hiring/assembling this team is “I want to be surrounded by people smarter than me so I can continue learning.” Leveroos are an ambitious and idealistic group.
What is the secret to building such a cohesive culture?
First, we’ve always had an extremely high bar in terms of our recruiting. There have been some great candidates that have interviewed and not received an offer. Where other startups would have said, “All right, let’s just try it,” we — more than most startups — understand the cost of a mis-hire and have said no if there isn’t a cultural fit or the right circumstances to set them up for success.
Second is signaling to employees that we take culture very seriously. We want employees to feel that they’re taken care of and truly part of building something great as part of the founding team. Employees feel like they’re constantly growing and they can really build a career here.
That means looking at all aspects: the physical spaces, constant new challenges to tackle, the coaching and development, and of course, offering comprehensive benefits. It’s a really competitive market, and to attract and retain top talent, we have to hit on all of those things.
Why did you decide to provide a 401(k) plan?
Last year, a lot of our new employees were jumping ship from larger companies, and we heard things like “I really like having a 401(k), do you offer one?” And for a while, we were saying “no” while we were so small and scrappy. Now we can proudly say “yes” and have partnered with ForUsAll to provide this benefit. As an employer, it’s doesn’t cost us that much effort, but it shows we care. It is clearly important to our employees.
What do you plan to do when you retire?
I’m in it for the long run with Lever – the mission of the company, to help build meaningful workplaces designed for talent, teamwork, and growth, is closely aligned with my own personal mission. Every day, I feel grateful to get to work with my incredibly passionate and talented colleagues and want to see the team grow even more and make a large impact. Lever is setting a new standard in talent management and I want to be a part of the coming transformations in how organizations approach human capital, of which recruiting is just one part of it.
At some point — many, many years down the line — I want to be a career and leadership coach. I’m most fulfilled by engaging in deep, introspective conversations and helping develop/guide plans for positive change — dedicating myself to it for real is something that I’m really looking forward to.
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