Kelly Fitch, Culture and Events Manager at Weebly on The Benifit

kelly fitch Kelly Fitch was hired as Weebly’s 60th employee. Now, nearly 4 years later, the web-hosting service has more than 300 employees around the world and Kelly has been an integral part of building the startups innovative and inclusive internal culture. Serving on the People and Culture team, Kelly plans events and implements policies at the company’s San Francisco headquarters that help employees connect to the company’s values and have fun.

In this episode of The Benifit, Kelly chats with podcast host Kate King about how Weebly makes sure job candidates are a good culture fit before they’re hired, how company culture  differs from office to office and how Weebly does perks differently. We could all learn a thing or two from Kelly’s experience at this successful global company. Listen to the full episode below!

Show Highlights:

[01:10] Kelly talks about how Weebly has grown since she started in 2014

[02:55] Kelly explains why Weebly does “on-sites” to show job candidates the company culture

[04:29] Kelly shares Weebly’s mission and why radical respect is central to the company

[06:17] “There isn’t just a one cookie cutter culture stamp that you can put on every office”

[08:46] Kelly talks about Weebly’s sidekick program

[11:00] “Inclusion is a huge part of Weebly”

[15:14] Kelly talks about internal communication best practices

[18:10] Kelly shares some of Weebly’s employee perks

[22:00] Kelly talks about Weebly’s incredible company trips

[25:28] Kelly shares her morning routine.

[27:47] Kelly talks about the three rules she lives by

The Benifit Interview w/ Kelly Fitch, Culture and Events Manager at Weebly

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[00:00:05] Kate: My guest today is Kelly Fitch, manager of people and culture at Weebly. Weebly is a web posting service that features a drag and drop website builder, enabling entrepreneurs to start and grow an online business.

We discuss the values within the Weebly culture and the different perks and initiatives that happen to connect their global offices. Kelly also shares with us her three rules to live by, which include make it happen and appreciate people by going above and beyond.

Good afternoon, Kelly, and welcome to The Benefit podcast where we talk to real progressive enablers of culture employee well-being and benefits. Thank you for joining me.

[00:00:49] Kelly Fitch: Thank you for having me, Kate.

[00:00:51] Kate: You’re very welcome. Before we get started on culture, I understand you were the 60th employee at Weebly and now there are over 300. Can you share with us and the listeners the reason for you joining Weebly and what you’ve learnt to date?

[00:01:10] Kelly: Absolutely. I started at Weebly in 2014. I was the 60th employee at our San Francisco headquarters. At that time, we were growing our offices. We opened up an office in Scottsdale, Arizona about the same week that I started. So I was seeing growth early on. It was exciting to see an office that really invested in culture early.

When I started, it was a very small, close-knit company. It still is today, which is really unique. What was interesting when I started was because it was so close-knit, we wanted to start that culture in our Scottsdale office too, and also in New York. I was new to Weebly, I was new to tech. This was my first job out of college. I was really learning from day one what Weebly was, what the values were and how we can grow that in our offices across the world.

It’s been interesting to see it grow from 60 to 300. There are new challenges every week, every month, and just trying to create that culture that still has that vibe from the beginning, and then also is being changed as we grow in creating new values, creating new things that are important to the culture here.

[00:02:41] Kate: Fantastic. Talk to us, if you would, about the building blocks of culture at Weebly and some of the initiatives you put in place, so that everybody lives and breathes those values on a daily basis.

[00:02:55] Kelly: Some of the things that I think really get people in the mindset of what our culture is early on is that we do on sites, which is pretty unique to Weebly. We start this in the interview process where we have a normal interview routine with phone screens, face-to-face interviews.

Then they actually come on site for a few days, ranging from 1-5 days, where employees or candidates get to come in and actually work as if they were a full-time employee for a day or two. This really gives them the opportunity to see what Weebly is, what our culture is, what it would it be like to work here.

Investing in a company is a huge thing since it is a big part of your life and your time. So we want employees, once they join, to already know what it’s like to work here. Candidates, we find that they have a really great experience with this. We get to know them pretty well before they actually join and there are no surprises on either end. Because I think it’s really important that we not only join or choose the company– I’m sorry. We don’t choose the candidate, but they also have to choose us. They have to really be aligned with our values, our mission, and be as accredited as we are.

[00:04:22] Kate: Could you just maybe highlight for us the key values and mission of Weebly?

[00:04:29] Kelly: Yes. Our mission is for to help entrepreneurs succeed. That’s something that’s huge. We really want to help entrepreneurs have an easy way to create and build a website and e-commerce store. One of our main values is radical respect plus honesty equals trust. That’s been a value that has been around since day one. As our company has grown, the values have also changed, which I think has been really interesting and something that we work on [inaudible 00:05:02] here as we have to realize that our values change as we grow bigger and the people change as well.

Realizing that you have to iterate on the values is super important. The radical respect one is huge. I think if you ask anyone that works with the company, this is something that they embody everyday. We really trust each other to get the job done, and you know the person sitting next to you is doing just as much work as you are, if not more. It creates this culture of just excitement and passion. It really makes you want to do your job better every day.

[00:05:44] Kate: You mentioned earlier that you’ve had rapid growth and you’ve got multiple offices and you’re really invested. One of your mandates is really the culture and the people outside. You mentioned challenges, maybe could you outline a couple of challenges that come along the way with that fast growth so some of our listeners can feel some empathy and, “Yes, I got that. I totally see that in our company too.”

[00:06:17] Kelly: Absolutely. One, this is an example of just realizing with the different offices some of the challenges is, something that works for our San Francisco office doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for our Scottsdale office or our New York office or our Toronto office. There isn’t just a one cookie cutter culture stamp that you can put on every office. Keeping the culture similar but realizing that there’s always going to be its own twist for each office is huge.

One way we realized this was when we were figuring out how to get people to bond in our Scottsdale office when that was growing and becoming bigger. In San Francisco, we have lots of team-building events, lots of events to gather the team. For instance, we’ll all have dinner together one night, or we’ll all go bowling. But for our Arizona office, it’s much different because they have different set schedules and it’s really hard for someone who has to go in at 6:00 AM to be at an event at 6:00 PM in the evening.

That was a challenge. We didn’t understand why people didn’t want to go to these team-building events or these happy hours. We realized that’s not [inaudible 00:07:36] we’re going to have our Scottsdale office get to know each other and bond, because it wasn’t going to work that way. It’s going to just be a different way of getting the team together.

We realized that instead of after work activities, we’re going to do this during lunch. We’re going to have a Halloween event during the different lunch shifts, different contests, and have that happened during the day when everyone’s there, instead of expecting people to have to stay after work when they perhaps get in at 6:00 AM.

That was a challenge that took us some time to realize it doesn’t need to be the same in every office, and figure out ways that each office can have their own little twist on the Weebly way of doing things.

[00:08:19] Kate: How do you handle a challenge then, or do you have any challenges? If your core pillars are radical respect plus honesty equals trust, do you see any challenges of people not honoring that? Perhaps everybody comes in with the assumption of honoring that. But when you see somebody not honoring that, what kind of activity is everybody empowered to do?

[00:08:46] Kelly: We actually don’t find that people have a hard time embodying that value. Again, this is, I think, thankful for on-site, we really find out who people are during the on-site. If they’re not going to embody those values from their on-site, it’s probably not going to work out. It’s very clear, we’ve definitely had people for on-sites that we realize they don’t have that value in them.

That’s not necessarily something you can teach. People should have radical respect. people should respect each other and come in, and I think that’s clear. It’s something that our CEO definitely makes clear. We have a handbook that’s really fantastic. It’s called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Weebly. It outlines everything for candidates and new hires what it’s like to be a Weebly. Lots of information about our values, and it really gets them up to speed with the Weebly way, as I mentioned earlier.

Then another thing that’s also fantastic for our new hires is we pair everyone with a sidekick This started with our first employee nine years ago, and it still happens today, which I am so thankful that we are able to keep this going.

The sidekick program is every new hire gets paired up with an employee that’s been here for a while. They write a handwritten note, it’s on their first day. When they get to their desk, there’s a little note from their sidekick, and it just says, “Welcome to Weebly. I’m going to guide you in your first week here.” They get lunch together, and the new hire is able to ask this Weebly employee really anything about the company. The sidekick’s there to get them up to speed, show them all the little ins and outs of things here.

It’s not just even the first week, it’s ongoing. So a month in, the sidekick will say, “Hey, how’s it going? Do you want to grab a smoothie? Can I answer any questions that you might have?” That’s been really helpful for our people ops team because we’re not the only ones guiding them and helping them. It’s not also just the manager, it’s a whole team effort here to get everyone to be a part of the family.

Speaker 2: Just talking about that, like creating that family culture, can you talk about other initiatives that you do or you’ve implemented that continue and expand that? That was a great example, perhaps you have another?

Speaker 1: Inclusion is a huge part of Weebly. We started a diversity committee about a year-an-a-half ago that I lead. We really are always thinking of different ways to make Weebly more diverse and inclusive, and it’s an ongoing thing for us. It’s always going to be something that’s top of mind. As we grew, that’s something that had become really obvious, that we need to think about all the different people that work at a company. How can we make this a place that people of all types, all backgrounds, want to be at and want to stay at.

So we created this diversity committee, and people from all different teams are on it. Engineers, product, designers, recruiting, basically someone from every team is a part of this. We meet once a month and discuss ways that we can be more inclusive, and that’s really been a huge driver for different events here. I think that creates a culture just of belonging.

Some of the events that, again, we probably wouldn’t have done when I started, because families and all these different things were not really top of mind for our really young founders.

We have different family picnics. We have women’s events. This is a huge one that I really love is we have women’s power hours. The women of Weebly meet once a month, and we get together, discuss different TED Talks, different topics that are really relevant to women in a workforce, and especially in Tac, and that different women lead it. For instance, our CFO, Kim Jabal, led a session on negotiation. We had another someone from finance lead one on body language and different things that women can change or just be aware of. It’s just a community of women here that share personal stories and we offer support to each other.

So that’s an example of something that came up out of the diversity committee. We also have a parents group, that was new. The parents get together. They were going to be planning a movie night for the parents, because sometimes it’s hard for parents to get together for an event after work, they have to go home. So instead of having them perhaps miss out on some of these things that we’re doing, we’re going to start doing more events during the day or at lunch.

These are just simple things that have been really great to make sure that everyone’s a part of the culture, and that it doesn’t feel like they have to pick and choose like work-life balance. “Hey, if I go to all of these events, I’m missing out on my child,” or, “Hey, I don’t want to personally go to a gaming marathon,” and things like that. We just want to make sure that we have all these different events for all different types of people.

Speaker 2: Talk to me if you would. I know you have many offices. You mentioned Scottsdale, New York, Toronto, San Francisco. I love that Weebly have instituted local look and feel of the company. With any multiple location company, there’s always that challenge around communication. Can you just go into that, how you tackle having consistent communication across. the offices even though you may have individual or local events, that real culture push and the values that Weebly has? How do you communicate and keep consistent across the offices?

[00:15:14] Kelly: That’s a great question. I think that’s something that we are always looking to improve. Something that works really well for us is– well, for a lot of companies: Slack is a great way to communicate quickly. I have a direct rapport in New York and we’re on different time zones. I communicate with her on Slack all the time. I communicate when I’m on my bus ride to work with her on there. It’s just a really quick and easy way to get things done with people from all over the world working for Weebly.

I think another one is just to be very aware that we are on different time zones. For instance, even at Scottsdale and San Francisco, for half the year we’re on the different time zone. Just being very aware that, “Hey, if you want something done, realize we’re on different zones here and to plan ahead.” For All Hands we do a company-wide- All Hands that get streamed through YouTube and we record it so if people want to watch that weren’t able to, for instance, in our Berlin office, they can tune in the next day and watch it again.

I think we’re always trying to figure out ways to communicate better. One thing, it’s kind of related to communication or just bringing the offices together and to understand each other better, we have this program called the Customer Experience Program where we send people from our San Francisco office, from our New York office, basically all offices, to our Scottsdale office to understand what goes on there every day.

Because they are the one office where they’re doing something a bit different than the others. They’re the ones that are chatting with our customers every single day, seven days a week. They’re helping our customers with different issues. We actually get our engineers, our executive team, everyone on the phone with our customers, helping them through different bugs that pop up or different questions that they have.

That’s been a really great way to understand each other better. That also helps with communication, because for our teams, they can understand what is needed from each role. I think that’s really helped with communication between our Scottsdale and other offices.

[00:17:40] Kate: There are some great examples there. Thank you. You and I were talking briefly before and we were talking about perks. You’ve mentioned a few perks that Weebly offers, and that whole well-being of employees is really critical on the agenda right now. We always talk about when humans right companies prosper. Talk to me a little bit about the perk program at Weebly for our listeners.

[00:18:10] Kelly: We always try to do our perks a little differently, as you know. I mentioned, it is very competitive, and there always are these standard regular perks, which I still think are incredible. We offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. We offer two 30-minute massages a month for employees. We have gym, yoga, boot camp sessions. We do a company trip every year. We have unlimited vacation.

Again, those are unfortunately the kind of standard for Tac these days. But we also do offer several unique things to Weebly, which I love. One of them is the Wanderlust Program, and we implemented that this year. We are able to retain our employees for many years, which is incredible. Again, we still have our first employee, who’s at 9 years.

Sometimes, at that time people need a break and people need to stop doing work for a bit, recharge. Even with the unlimited vacation, it’s hard to really, really unplug sometimes for a big amount of time. This Wanderlust program gives those employees that break instead of having them feel like they need to change a job or take a huge chunk of time away from work.

So once employees’ at their five year, they get to take five weeks paid time off. They can use that to recharge, focus on personal or professional development or just travel. We actually help fund those adventures, and it’s a really fantastic thing that I’m really excited that we implemented.

Another one is– this is kind of how we grew. We realized that the two floating holidays that we gave every year. We used to give random days off, like the day after Halloween off and National Beer Day. We realized those aren’t really connected to our values in any way. They don’t really have any value to our company. So instead of giving those days off, we decided that we were going to dedicate two days where employees could take off to volunteer. They can either volunteer on their own, or go to organized events that I plan.

For instance, we actually have a group today that is helping out at Glide, which is- they’re making food for homeless. People would really enjoy the fact that they’re allowed to take those days off. It’s not vacation days, it’s just really days where they can go do what they want to help the community.

Another great perk that we offer is we gift every Weebly a $100 to spend on a Weebly customer every year. I love this one because not only does it support our customers, but it really helps us understand who our customers are, because we’re sifting through a ton of different Weebly sites, figuring out what gifts we want to get people for the holidays, and we can see our product in real life. I love that. I actually got a portrait painted of my pug from a Weebly customer called Portraits For Pets. I think it’s just a really unique perk that, again, gives back to our customers.

[00:21:41] Kate: You mentioned the Wanderlust, you work for five years and then you get five weeks paid off?

[00:21:49] Kelly: Yes, in addition to unlimited vacations.

[00:21:51] Kate: Wow, that’s fantastic. I love it. Talk to me about your company trip. What goes on– is everybody in the company?

[00:22:00] Kelly: The company trip, this has been going on for years. What we do is we have our New York, Berlin, Toronto, San Francisco offices all get to on a trip. The Scottsdale office does a staycation which is super fun.

Again, this is iterating on what works. Being able to leave the office has worked for other offices, but we can’t step away from our customers, they still need our help. It’s really hard to get everyone to stop working in simple way because we, again, want to support our customers and be there for them. Instead, we created a staycation and did a full week of really fun activities in our Scottsdale office.

But for the actual trip, we get to go to different destinations every year. This year, we went to San Diego. It’s just a great way to step away from the day-to-day, and reconnect, get everyone together from all offices. We have a meeting where we discuss our values, and we have different team building activities that we do. It’s just also a great way to get to know each other with different activities unrelated to work.

People went off and went jet skiing, some people went on a hike, and we all shared our photos together. It was really fun to see the different people just doing their own thing but with each other. It was really helpful for me, I was the event person, to have people kind of create their subgroups. Again, these aren’t cliques. People created Slack channel saying, “Hey, I want to go on a food tour, who wants to join?” A random group of people joined and they made it happen.

It’s been a really unique thing that we do every year. We’ve been to Hawaii, we’ve been to Monterrey. Again, a very special perk. I am very lucky that we get to do that.

[00:24:13] Kate: What I love about it, I think there’s lot of stories about company trips where you sit in a conference room for many, many hours reading over powerpoint decks and presentations. Being able to actually be part of something bigger that that human connection and the human well-being of your colleagues is something that Weebly embraces, I think, is phenomenal perk to everybody.

I think to your point when you see your attrition numbers, they’re probably a lot lower in a very tough competitive talent industry. So I take my hat off. I think those are wonderful, wonderful perks. Now, Kelly, if you don’t mind I’m just going to switch to a couple of questions which I love our listeners to have some insight into the guest we have on, and that is two questions. One, about your morning routine, if you have one, or maybe an evening routine that really sets you up to be productive and gives you that human thrive feeling to go get your day. What did your morning routine or your evening routine look like?

[00:25:28] Kelly: Yes, it’s a good question. I actually don’t have really anything related to– I know a lot of people do meditation, or they do kind of mindfulness things. I love waking up, I check my phone, I see what notifications I get in. Since we do have offices around the world, I do get notified at all hours. So I like to take care of anything that is urgent or put out any fires that I can before I get ready for the day. That helps me get set up. Even if it’s an hour before I would normally get into the office, I’m happy to take care of that before I actually leave my house.

Once I get ready, I walk to work. That’s my mindful meditation time, and it’s just so I get to do two things at once. I get exercise, I get to clear my head, but I also get to work. So I love using that time as productive time. Sometimes, I take the bus and that’s, again, where I start doing emails, I start checking at Slack. I use that time to get things done.

I also like to go in a little bit earlier than most people to the office. It just helps me get a head start on the day where if there is something that pops up, I can take care of it before the majority of folks come into the office. That helps so much with stress, just getting it right for everyone for the majority of folks to come in and everything is running smoothly.

Then at the end of the day, I really just check my calendar so there are no surprises the next day if there’s something I perhaps forgot about. I check to see what’s going on and prepare a little bit if there’s something that I need to get done before I go to sleep, I will.

I think, all of the time, some people really like to disconnect from work, but I love what I’m doing. This is, again, what my passion is. Sso I don’t mind doing this. It’s not expected of me, but this is how I really like to get set up, is kind of always be connected to what’s going on, because people are constantly going to me for certain things and I like to be there for everyone.

[00:27:41] Kate: What’s three rules you live by?

[00:27:47] Kelly: One of them is just something that my mom always said to me growing up when I had crazy schedules, or a lot on my plate was, it’s very simple, it’s make it happen. It could be really interpreted however you want. It’s very, again, simple. But this has really helped me focus my energy in the right place. Some days I, again, will check my calendar that night before and realize, “Oh, my gosh, I have to do XYZ. I don’t know how I’m really going to get all of these done tomorrow.”

This really just help me realize to take one thing at a time and don’t worry about, “Oh, you have a presentation at this time, at this time and then you have to speak at All Hands.” Instead of looking at all of these different things that might intimidate me or something I might be nervous about– speaking at All Hands, no matter what I’m always nervous.

So I think just taking one thing at a time really help me focus my energy, and made intimidating situations more approachable for me. So make it happen as just simple thing that we always joke about, my mom and I, still today.

Another one that I really like that my team really embodies, I make sure I do whenever I’m giving information to the team, I constantly send emails, newsletters, FAQs. I think answering questions before people ask them, for my role, is super important. I like to set my team up so they are best prepared for anything that’s going on.

For instance, getting everyone on a flight to Hawaii, you need to have everyone knowing what’s going on. Instead of having people wonder, “Oh, well, what would should I pack?” or “What do I do? Should I print out my ticket?” People have the most crazy questions which I love to hear, but I think answering those questions, preparing them for what’s to come and what they need to do is really important.

That’s something that my team and I are always thinking about before we send emails, before we put something on our HQ site. We’re always trying to figure what questions people will have, and just get that information to them before they even ask that question. It really helps with time management too. Less of people are reaching out with simple questions that we can answer in advance.

Then the last thing that I always live by is write thank you notes. I always write thank you notes. I think, in a digital world, handwritten notes are not really common anymore, but I love to do that and I think it really goes a long way. I do write email thank you notes whenever I can’t do a handwritten. But handwritten notes, we actually do a lot of that at Weebly. That’s something that when I started I realized we should do hand write notes for different celebrations.

For instance, we do handwritten notes for birthdays, anniversaries, welcome cards on their first day. As I mentioned, the sidekicks write notes to their new hires on that day, and then even the founders write thank you cards and sign the anniversary cards. I remember I got a note from three founders, and it meant a lot seeing that in handwriting and not just be a email. So writing thank you notes, something I love to do.

[00:31:03] Kate: Great. No, that appreciation that somebody took the time, I agree with you, it’s very elegant and well-meant and well-received. Kelly, thank you so much for your time today. Its been a really great insight into Weebly and the phenomenal things that you’re doing, not just from a parks perspective but maybe aligning up the culture and having everybody live and breath it every day. I truly want to thank you for your time and joining us today.

[00:31:31] Kelly: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

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[00:31:34] Kate: Firstly, thanks for listening and spending time with us. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Kelly. For transcribed version of this show, head over to benifit/podcast. B-E-N-I.F-I-T/podcast. This is the start of conversations that begin to identify the best practices of when humans thrive companies prosper. If you would like to recommend anyone for the show, please email me at [email protected] [email protected]

[00:32:20] [END OF AUDIO]

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