Enabling Everyone at Rainforest to be Heard and Keep It 'Really Real'

Michael Dean

Talking to Fred Stevens-Smith, founder and chief executive at Rainforest, you learn very quickly that he’s an entrepreneur who’s put a lot of thought into the kind of company he wants to build. “Our particular company culture is based on three values – no BS, be weirdly passionate, and always be caring – and if you design your values, and therefore your company culture, from the start, you can end up with this amazing cohesiveness across the company, while still having a broad array of opinions,” he said.

A crucial phase in the journey of any startup comes when managers, team leaders, goals and processes, start to have a greater influence on an employee’s work life than the founders and their original vision. Whether people feel some magic has been lost, or whether they’re excited to be part of bigger and better things, often depends on the foresight of the founders.

Taking a proactive approach, Fred and his team introduced Peakon to Rainforest. “What Peakon has given us is this amazing channel for people to be completely honest, because of the anonymity and the ability to have discussions anonymously, people are able to really be real” he explained. “So you see, ‘oh this manager’s team is starting to get a little burnt out; this part of the organisation is feeling the strategy’s not clear’ and these are things people would never tell you to your face.”

Celia Wong, a customer success manager at Rainforest, provides her feedback through bi-weekly questions from Peakon. “I think it’s a constant reminder to me that the company cares about our opinion,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with, whether you feel satisfied at work, whether you feel like you’re recognised by your peers, your manager and leadership.”

Nine months after launching Peakon at the company, Fred described the difference the platform has made: “I think for sure we have a much better employee engagement.” With the distributed workforce, everyone now has an even platform for feedback and recognition, “we have much happier remote teams now because they have a way to tell us – in a way that we can truly hear – and so Peakon finally gives us the ability to do that, and I think that’s amazing.”