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How To Become A Best Workplace in the US: A Case Study

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By December 2016, we had effectively doubled our monthly revenue from just 11 months before. Even with all this growth, our demise was staring us right in the face.

We knew we needed to hire, and fast. We needed team members for support, production, sales, everything.

We had extremely talented people on our core team with a thirst for knowledge and development who not only lived our culture but enhanced it.

But the question was – could we continue to keep this culture as we scale?

Over the next 4 years, we brought on over 45 people to the team, and it was a massive challenge.

Some days I doubted whether we could pull this off. Some days, I wondered if putting in this much effort into building an amazing culture was even worth it.

I was wrong.

On May 6th, 2020, The HOTH was named a Best Workplace by Inc. Magazine.

For me, this was a dream come true. This was the culmination of all the work that we’ve done; Not only becoming one of the fastest-growing companies in the US, but simultaneously making it a great place to work.

I want to share with you a behind-the-scenes look at how we did it, and how you can too.

What is the Inc. Best Workplaces and how do you make the list?

Here’s what the official website says about the award:

The Inc. Best Workplaces list is the result of a wide-ranging and comprehensive measurement of private American companies that have created exceptional workplaces through vibrant cultures, deep employee engagement, and stellar benefits.

Now to make the list is much more complicated than a simple application.

To qualify to gain this recognition first takes an application.

After that has been approved, then you have to provide a survey to your team, of which you need a certain level of participation.

After that, your overall survey score then is calculated. If you score high enough, then you make the list.

According to Inc., “more than 3,000 companies applied to be named one of Inc.’s Best Workplaces.” and you need to score in the top percentile to make the list.

Why Does The Award Matter Anyways?

We did not just grow our culture for the sake of awards. None of this is surface level.

Culture is the lifeblood of the business. It’s infectious. It’s what permeates throughout the decisions we make, the products we create, and the direction we go. It’s what ultimately touches our employees and our clients.

Plus, on a more obvious note, who wants to dread going to work every day?

Getting the award just makes it official.

How Culture = More $$

Now you might be thinking, “Great, but does this help the bottom line?”

I have great news for you – it does!

Cost Savings with Recruiting

Corporate recruiting is one of the more costly ways to recruit talent and one that may not be an option for you. Having a solid, kick-ass culture can be your main recruiting tool.

This is supported by data we have gathered from the survey we send to our newly onboarded team members.

In our onboarding feedback survey, 75% of respondents said that our company culture was a primary motivator for accepting a role.

We use Breezy.HR for our applicant tracking system. Currently, we have over 7500 applicants that have applied across all positions. Other than the fee we pay for the applicant tracking system we have spent $0 on recruiting efforts. We let the culture recruit for itself.

Employee Retention

Your next cost savings will be in the form of retention. People are going to leave your organization. There’s nothing you can do about it. It is an inevitability.

However, how long you keep your people is controllable. Having this solid culture will significantly improve your overall team member retention. Turnover will cost you time, and ultimately money. It is indirect, but you will feel it.





Great culture usually means people are genuinely happy. Working with genuinely happy people will improve your life and help you make better decisions in running your business.

Customer Retention

Genuinely happy people also provide genuine customer service. This is my favorite part because this is when you begin to share your culture with your clients. It’s infectious in the best way.

The culture you provide your team will trickle down to your customers. The more this happens, the better retention you will have with your clients, leading to a higher lifetime value.

All of this combined is going to save you money and make you money. With a great culture, you are developing the perfect recipe to hit that scale button.

How To Build A Great Culture

I’m a big fan of action. With all these fluffy awesome things I’m talking about, I want to give you all actionable items to accomplish to begin to grow your culture.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. Create A Physical Culture Document

In a period of growth, you need something for everyone to fall back on. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in situations where I felt a solution was impossible, yet when I reference our culture document, all of a sudden the roadmap to finding a solution becomes much clearer.

Having the culture document ready and available 24/7 to all our team members has helped us solve the most basic of problems, but also the most serious of issues.

Apart from just solving problems, a solid culture will save you money in the long term. Recruiting talent, both W2 and Freelance, will become much simpler.

First, you need to know what a culture document looks like.

It doesn’t have to be a grandiose document with multiple chapters and stories. It should exemplify your values. It should show your team and your partners how you operate your business on a human level.

For instance, The HOTH’s Culture Document includes the following headings:

  1. Our Purpose
  2. Accountability & Responsibility
  3. Think About What You Want, Not What You Don’t Want
  4. Identify Problems Clearly & Move Toward Solutions
  5. Ask for What You Need & Want
  6. Communicate Openly & Clearly
  7. Find What You Do Best & Do That
  8. Cross Pollinate Ideas
  9. Lead by Example
  10. Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Conversations
  11. Give and Receive Meaningful Feedback
  12. Mess Up, Fess Up
  13. Make It Fun
  14. Working Hard
  15. Healthy People = Healthy Company

From an onboarding perspective, you also solidify your non-negotiables and expectations so that there is no gray area with your culture. You are providing constructs that your new, and existing, team members yearn for.

2. Hire The Person, Not The Position

This can be tailored for really any level of talent you’re hiring. Whether it is a very technical role or an entry level position, making sure the person is the right fit BEFORE qualifying their abilities and talents will be your secret sauce to hiring the best talent out there.

Remember, you’re spending more time with your team than your own family, significant other, and/or friends. You need to be able to mesh with them on a human level. You might find a technically qualified candidate, but if your personalities don’t mesh well, then you just hired a ticking time bomb.

Qualify the personality and values of a person before you jump in to assess their technical abilities. If they don’t mesh with you, move on to the next candidate.

3. Put People In Positions To Succeed

Someone who is an exceptional executor in one department and/or role may not even come close to the same level of success in another department and/or role.

Understand what your team member’s strengths are and what they’re capable of. From there you can reference your team’s strengths versus the needs of your business. It’s like putting a puzzle together.

Your puzzle pieces are a mixture of what your team is great at and what your business needs.

Some pieces don’t go together no matter how hard you push, and some pieces are a perfect match. It is your responsibility to find those perfect matches.

4. To Be The Best Leader, Be The Best Listener

Too many times we think as leaders that we have to have the answer to every question or every issue. We all know this is not the case.

Be ready to use your team as a resource to help formulate plans to solve issues, no matter how big.

Team members will likely have better solutions than I do; however, the team looks to me for the final say.

The team is likely more in the day to day than I am. With that, I ask people’s opinions on how we should move forward to solve a problem(s). Once I have somewhat of a consensus in my head, we then execute.

This is only possible if I open my mind and listen to what the team members have to say. I’m not listening just for a response. I’m listening to formulate a plan to execute.

This by nature builds so much goodwill, but also increases your trust with your team because you are allowing them to help solve problems by working with you. It also allows you to see their potential from a problem-solving standpoint.

5. Be A Human

Your team does not need a superhero. They need a resource. They need someone to learn from. They need direction. Showing that you’re a human in any and all scenarios accomplish all of these.

This means admitting things you don’t know, admitting your mistakes, answering questions straight and to the point, letting someone else take the lead, lending a helping hand if a department is behind, etc.

Showing that you’re just as human as your team will help keep your culture and your work relationships strong.

6. You Betta Recognize

Recognition is so important when it comes to building your business.

It’s simple. Tell your people they’re doing a good job.

This drives motivation. It drives purpose. It also provides your team member an example of what great work looks like, only because you were able to verify what they did via recognition.

While top-down recognition drives motivation and purpose, peer-to-peer recognition drives teamwork and collaboration.

At The HOTH, we utilize software called Bonusly. In Bonusly, everyone in the company is able to recognize literally anyone with an amount of “points” and a piece of written recognition at any given time.

Below are some examples of what this looks like right from our HOTH Slack Channel that every HOTH team member has access to:




By having this software we can quantity AND qualify the recognition our team members are sending.

We’re able to see what’s important to them and how much of a help their peer was to them. Bonusly changed our game.

Get Started Building your Best Workplace

This is what we do on a daily basis. It works for us and it will work for you.

In due time, you’ll be celebrating your culture’s success and hopefully be recognized as a best workplace in the process.

The best part about building and sustaining a great culture is that you also get to share it with your clients.

If you’re a new client, I hope that we can share our culture with you and always be a resource.

If you are an existing member of our HOTH Family, thank you for your continued support. I hope we can continue to strengthen our relationship this year.

To check out more about how we can share our culture with you, feel free to schedule a free consultation with a member of our Client Experience team. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get hooked up with some swag.

Thank you for reaching this. Please let me know your feedback and thoughts at [email protected]. Happy to hear from you.

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