How HR Leaders at 2 LA-Based Companies Foster People-First Cultures

HR leaders from two local companies shared what it means to truly put employees first, and the perks and benefits that ensure their success.

Written by Lucas Dean
Published on Dec. 20, 2022
How HR Leaders at 2 LA-Based Companies Foster People-First Cultures
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Imagine a Venn diagram comparing mariachi bands, Nerf wars, employee support groups and high compensation. Where do these seemingly unrelated components overlap? 

That might initially seem like a riddle, but they all play a role in Honeybee Robotics’ efforts to build a people-first culture. Fostering such an environment takes considering the small things — a fun activity to brighten an employee’s day or celebrate a win — and the more significant investments: fair pay, inclusivity and professional development opportunities. 

It’s not enough to love your job. We know that pay and benefits are critical to our employees’ well-being,” Theresa Overing, HR business partner at Honeybee Robotics, explained. “We also like to be generous in the small things — company swag, pizza lunches, Waffle Wednesdays and an insane variety of specialty coffee machines.”

At Convoso, another LA-based company, creating a people-first culture starts as soon as someone is hired with regular check-ins, training and open communication. A wide range of benefits and perks, from robust health plans and flexible hybrid work options to a variety of wellness offerings, are vital to maintaining employees' well-being.

“We encourage feedback regarding our benefits, perks and onboarding experience by sending quarterly surveys, so employees can give their honest opinions and help us adjust and offer the best options,” Ann Hong, Convoso’s HR director, said. 

Built In LA spoke to Hong and Overing about all of the things — big and small — that go into fostering a people-first culture, and what that looks like at their companies. 

 

The flight assembly team in the lab.
Honeybee Robotics

 

Theresa Overing
HR Business Partner • Honeybee Robotics

Aerospace company Honeybee Robotics, a member of the Blue Origin family, has a long track record of creating systems that are resilient to harsh environments and built to explore space. 

 

What steps has Honeybee Robotics taken to foster a people-first culture?

Honeybee Robotics has a vibrant culture of enthusiasm that leads to bold ideas. Giving our employees the freedom to create and develop is the core of our people-first culture. Even as newbies, our engineers are given complete ownership of a part of a system. We listen and actively assess ideas — no matter how audacious, scrappy or unusual. We have bi-monthly Lunch ‘n Learns, and our engineers present on a broad range of topics that interest them. A people-first culture creates people who want to help others succeed.

We make a deliberate effort to hire people with positive, collaborative mindsets. Kris Zacny, vice president of exploration systems, declares that one of our most critical hiring criteria is “fun people.” Humor and fun spur creativity, which is the natural output of a people-first culture. We work hard, and our people play hard, too. Sometimes Nerf wars erupt across the hive, which we call the engineering work area. A mariachi band strolled through the building last month to celebrate finishing a proposal. There’s a BBQ, picnic tables and a basketball hoop in the back parking lot. Energy spills over into many after-work activities, such as sports, hiking and games.

In the last year, we have taken deliberate steps to keep our compensation high relative to the market and to improve our benefits offerings while lowering costs.”

 

What perks, benefits or other offerings help support a people-first company culture?

It’s not enough to love your job. We know that pay and benefits are critical to our employees’ well-being. In the last year, we have taken deliberate steps to keep our compensation high relative to the market and to improve our benefits offerings while lowering costs. Our engineering teams allow remote work from home once per week. We support employee resource groups, including a women’s group and an LGBT group.

We also like to be generous in the small things — company swag, pizza lunches, Waffle Wednesdays and an insane variety of specialty coffee machines. At our California site, we are dog-friendly. Dog owners have small gates at their work areas and bring in doggie beds and toys for their pets. Everyone loves the Honeybee dogs!

 

How do you gauge the effectiveness of these efforts and ensure employees feel valued and supported? And what are some ways you’ve adapted your strategy in response?

We’ve conducted employee surveys, and we’re pleased with results that indicate our employees enjoy each other, their work and the company. We are not complacent. In 2022, our president, Kiel Davis, initiated a culture club to “preserve and enhance what makes Honeybee, Honeybee.”

We’re developing a company-wide calendar of events to focus on our technology, history, diversity, giving back and, of course, having fun. We’re also developing a rewards and recognition program to award individual achievement and celebrate participation in our technology programs. We know that by investing in the employee experience, Honeybee Robotics will benefit in the long run.

 

 

A photo of three members of the Convoso HR team.
Convoso

 

Ann Hong
HR Director • Convoso

Convoso uses cloud-based omnichannel software and AI to help call centers convert more leads, more efficiently. 

 

What steps has Convoso taken to foster a people-first culture?

Here at Convoso, we’re committed to our employees from the start. Convoso promotes a culture of open and clear communication, which fosters healthier relationships amongst staff. We set our employees up for success through an extensive onboarding process. We offer in-house training on our product and the tech space to promote a collective understanding of Convoso for everyone. Our onboarding team sets up 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins with all new hires to gather feedback and understand how they’re adapting to their new role, allowing the team to provide additional support and guidance early on in the employee’s career. Convoso also implements individual development plans for all employees to allow for transparency into their career progression from the beginning of their career with Convoso. 

At Convoso, our core values emphasize teamwork and positivity, which serve as our daily reminder to be more conscious and intentional about showing appreciation to and helping one another. In our weekly company huddles, we encourage employees to take the opportunity to highlight and shout out their co-worker’s efforts and contributions that promote our core values.

We value flexibility and offer this to our employees. If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that people value their time, so we offer hybrid and flexible schedules”

 

What perks, benefits or other offerings help support a people-first company culture?

We offer a robust health plan that provides generous and extensive coverage to our employees and their families at low-to-no cost. We also have a wellness program that provides and promotes self-care options to employees, be it fitness, therapy or whatever “wellness” means to them. We supply remote employees with monthly meal stipends while also offering daily catered lunches in-office for employees.

We value flexibility and offer this to our employees. If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that people value their time, so we offer hybrid and flexible schedules across the company depending on their roles and responsibilities. 

Convoso encourages camaraderie, and that lends itself to teamwork and positivity, which are some of Convoso’s core values. In order to encourage these values, we regularly host fun special events for our employees outside of work; this includes flying in remote employees.

We provide various forms of paid time off, including floater holidays, birthdays off and paid parental leave, among others. 

Outside of these benefits and perks, we strive to offer meaningful support through career progression and professional development.

 

How do you gauge the effectiveness of these efforts and ensure employees feel valued and supported? And what are some ways you’ve adapted your strategy in response?

To gauge how employees adapt to their role and the company, we have check-ins throughout onboarding and their first 90 days at a 30-, 60- and 90-day cadence. 

We encourage feedback regarding our benefits, perks and onboarding experience by sending quarterly surveys, so employees can give their honest opinions and help us adjust and offer the best options. 

We also distribute a more comprehensive annual company-wide survey, which functions as a proper pulse-check to see what employees are experiencing while working with Convoso and its culture. This allows for an open feedback response on how we can improve internal processes and procedures.  

We maintain our availability to employees by ensuring that their needs are a priority for the HR team, with open communication and visibility. Employees are always asked about their preferences and availability, via a survey, when special events are organized for employees so that we can provide a fun, team-building experience for everyone.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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