After Vinomofo experienced a year of rapid growth Michael Ellis entered into a new role as Vinomofo’s Head of Culture. He ensures that the Vinomofo team lives their company values as they scale and provides the structure needed for people to do their best work. Ellis says, “There's a real commitment to culture in this company which is a passion of our CEO’s - to genuinely care for people.”
Once Ellis and the Culture Team were formed, their first challenge was to clarify what was driving the culture of Vinomofo. In order to do that, they needed to gather employee feedback. Initially, Ellis and his coworker Courtney Cousins, Head of Operations, interviewed around 70 staff, asking a series of culture-related questions. However, this method of data gathering was time consuming and too biased to rely on for making informed decisions. Vinomofo chose Culture Amp’s employee engagement survey as the best solution to gather feedback quickly and objectively.
Ellis wanted to gather actionable data and insights to inform Vinomofo’s culture strategy moving forward. In looking for a solution that would provide consistent feedback in a way that was not obtrusive or time consuming, Ellis met with a few different providers of employee survey software before ultimately choosing Culture Amp. Having met with CEO Didier Elzinga and People Geek Tanya Neary, he saw that Culture Amp’s goal of helping organizations put culture first better resonated with Vinomofo’s goals.
Now, Vinomofo has their own people data and insights and access to industry employee engagement benchmarks to understand how they compare with organizations like their own. Ellis was pleased that the engagement survey was easy to set up and covered all the cultural elements they were interested in. They already had clear company values, but hadn’t yet measured in a data-driven way what was important to employees. Ellis says, “The detail and the insights that we got were really valuable for me because it pointed us in the right direction. It reinforced a lot of what we knew already and allowed us to define and objectively quantify what's working and what's not. When it comes to making changes and implementing strategy, it's so much easier to point to data.”
Running Culture Amp employee engagement surveys helped Ellis and his team discover drivers of engagement. The team at Vinomofo had always felt a responsibility to support social issues outside of the company. However, leadership was surprised to see how important corporate social responsibility was to their team in terms of employee engagement. “When it comes to justifying doing more of those sorts of programs and investing more time and resources into them, it became really easy to do that with this data. That driver analysis was a big one for me. I found that to be really valuable,” says Ellis.
‘Do some good’ is one of Vinomofo’s core company values, and an essential part of their Credo. As a result of the engagement survey findings, they're planning for ways to involve people more in charity and fundraising events. As Ellis says, “It's one thing to donate money, but to literally roll up your sleeves and help is a wonderful experience we want everyone to have the opportunity to do.”
While Vinomofo scored highly on company confidence, feedback and recognition was an area that needed attention. Since their first engagement survey, the Culture Team has been working closely with employees to understand what kind of recognition and feedback is relevant and important to them. Now, all new starters complete a Strengths Finder profile and Language of Appreciation questionnaire. Along with this, Ellis runs a workshop and coaching session with staff to help them understand how they can apply strengths in their role. This information is then shared with the team and recorded on their 'Role and Soul Profile' which is a Trello board and Vinomofo’s version of a position description. Ellis explains, “This personal profile helps others understand how they like to be acknowledged. We knew the 'one size fits all' approach wasn't going to work so wanted to make it really personal.”
As Vinomofo continues to expand, Ellis says it’s all about people. “I'm so grateful that we as a company are supported and enabled by tools like Culture Amp, because it makes it easier to look after people. We need to know what’s important to people, what matters to them and that’s where Culture Amp works at scale,” he says. Vinomofo plans to continue on their bi-annual engagement survey. “We'll compare our first half of the year culture strategy with these results to track and measure the impact of our initiatives. Hopefully we'll see improvement in areas we've been focusing on, then we'll address the new issues that present. It's a constant evolution.”