We Weren’t Selected As a ‘Best Workplace’ by Inc. for 2021 and Here’s Why

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As you can probably tell from the less than subtle headline, we didn’t get a spot on Inc.’s Magazine’s Best Workplaces 2021. Hmm… Whether you’re a long-time employee, new employee, or the CEO of the company, that’s something that’ll make you pause and think for a bit. 

Why didn’t we get selected? We’ve been selected for the last two years, what’s changed now? What does this mean? Is this representative of how much the company cares about its employees?

Those are all valid thoughts and ones that I had myself before sitting down to write this. Hell, those were some of the very questions that inspired what you’re reading. As an employee, when you choose to work and spend time at a company, you’re bound to get a little curious. We could let that curiosity escalate or, you know, just address the digital elephant in the room.

So, what are the Inc. Best Workplaces Awards and why do they matter? Well, they’re a nationally recognized honor that awards businesses for their outstanding cultures. Inc. reports that more than 3,000 companies apply to be named one of their Best Workplaces and to help their decision making, they surveyed 370,000 employees to get a better understanding of how they feel about their company. Simply put, getting one is a highly competitive process that’s no easy feat. According to them, awards go to businesses that “value company culture, offer standout worker benefits, and prioritize employee well-being.” They also recognize ones that thrive in adversity and redefine their workplaces in response, and foster employee growth and advancement. 

The thing is, the vast majority of our employees are very happy with our workplace and say Advertise Purple delivers on exactly those things. Might seem like a bold assumption, but it’s based on Inc.’s survey data that says we only missed this by less than three points. Three points. But within those three, there are a lot of questions and important things to know for the future, so let’s virtually sit down with Advertise Purple’s CEO, Kyle Mitnick, and have a chat. Sound good? 

Advertise Purple didn’t get selected for Inc. Magazine’s Best Places to Work. How do you feel and what does not being selected mean to you?

It’s a very emotional moment, to be honest. In my 12 or so years of business management, the moment I cherish the most was our very first Inc. Best Workplace award issued in 2019. The growth awards are nice and indicative of the service we provide to our customers, but the vote of excellence from my team was unexpected and pretty amazing. Having not been selected this year is pushing my management team into some serious self-reflection, and we’ve already begun to pull the levers that drove record-breaking happiness in 2019 and 2020. 

That’s understandable, especially since to you this award means the team is happy enough to give that vote of excellence. With that said, how does all of this impact you as a leader? 

More than I had imagined. I am well aware that most businesses don’t make this list and that the few that do make it rarely make it more than once. This award, in my opinion, is a true barometer for employee satisfaction at the most competitive national level, and employee satisfaction is a tenant for a successful company. So, logically, employee satisfaction can be assigned a monetary value, and due to this fact, can’t be neglected or written off as a “who cares? it was only one year” type of thing. Yes, it was easier to manage a company with 50 employees vs 130, but that is no excuse. COVID kept us out of the office, that must be the reason, right? Wrong. The foundation for happiness is here. Our service is better than ever, the market is frothy, and we just need to get back to the basics of employee satisfaction: professional development and connection. 

You know, as an employee, seeing a company take accountability in situations like this is a really nice thing. And what can you say about why AdPurp wasn’t chosen for this?

Well, according to the data Inc. released to us, we hit a 91/100 satisfaction score, which is three points short of the 94/100 requirement to make entry to the list. Specifically, though, we had one teammate who was disengaged to the point of anger. Their commentary was fairly simple. They wanted us to care more, and I get it. A year of being fully remote combined with the scale of growth would lead even the most loyal employee to want more. All that I can do is promise to deliver better this year. 

Without a doubt. Speaking more on that, did not getting the award inspire anything in you? Did it inspire a feeling of wanting to improve? What did you immediately want to do after finding out? 

Well, my first reaction was filling up a hearty glass of wine, then taking a seat outside. As an entrepreneur, I have endured more rejection and boots to the face than any human should, but despite having a thick skin in situations like this, it gave me pause. My first coherent thought was, what did it used to be like? That was the jumping off point for a comeback. 

Going back to what the company was like before growing so much is a nice strategy for thinking about where to go next. As you know, AdPurp certainly wasn’t alone in this. There were a lot of businesses that didn’t receive an award. So, if we’re just one of many, why do you care so much? Why is what employees think of the company so important to you? 

Each day I wake up, my mission is simple: Deliver the best employee and customer experience possible.  As the years pile on, I have never found direction toward my mission from other companies or competitors. And it’s important because I care about what I can control, and providing the best workplace for employees has proven to be attainable. 

And why not start where you can control? So, diving more into how this feels, what’s the biggest reason for this being a bummer? Is it because we didn’t get an Inc. Best Workplace award or is it because there was an employee who expressed that they weren’t satisfied here?

The latter. Whether it was six employees on 7th street, 10 employees on 14th street, to 130 employees now, I’ve always made a commitment to the people that join my team: “You will leave here better equipped for a successful career in e-commerce. If you want to be here, I will do everything I can to make it a valuable workplace for you.” Of course, over the years, we’ve had people part ways for different reasons whether they wanted to return to school or become an astronaut. However, the team member who was disgruntled in the survey wanted to be a part of AdPurp.

To address both the comments from that team member and employee satisfaction overall, what has the company done and what does it plan to do to improve things and make AdPurp an even better place to work going forward? 

Actually, quite a lot. We recently made a very large addition to our Executive team with the former CEO of a $120 million-dollar tech-enabled e-commerce company who actually used to be a client of ours. His perspective on team management, systems, and employee satisfaction was the best we could find, so it’s a worthy investment to our crew. Although our strategic managers are second to none, they are thirsty for personnel management training, which he has already started.  

We have doubled down in technology advancements, which keep our customers’ results growing faster than ever, though we’ve noticed some lag in tech adoption. There are so many things our technology can assist with, but the proper training has yet to be consistently deployed. Like, for example, did you know Purply can actually make a pizza? 

Finally, I’m doing the one thing that’s most difficult in a company of our size and that’s spending individual time with each employee. A true paradox of my life is when I have the most valuable information to share, but am too busy to share it. That’s not the case anymore, as I’ve shed some high-level responsibilities to focus on the most important assets at AdPurp: New hires and engaged employees.

A great workplace is so important, especially in times of duress like the pandemic. What can you say that you’ve done to contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of employees? 

My main job as CEO is to deploy capital to achieve wellness at scale and to provide the team with what they need. Whether it’s over $10,000/month in approvals for team rapport building initiatives with managers, approval of up to 100% reimbursement for mental health therapy, UnPlug staff, employee catering reimbursements totaling $21,000/month, or 100% paid medical expense as a standard perk, everything is a worthy investment. Also, one of our main investments is in technology, which is intended to reduce stress, improve workflow for employees, and produce better client results. 

Those are all signs that employee wellness is a big priority at the company, nice. Wellness and happiness go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Now, what else do employees have to look forward to? 

One-on-one training and professional development from leaders of the #1 affiliate management agency in the world. 

Well, in the profound words of Jim Carrey, alrighty then. Can’t go wrong with that. Coming to a close with these questions, I’m sure there are at least a few of us that want to know if getting selected for Inc.’s Best Workplaces next year is a goal for you.

While it’s a sure indication of success, it’s ultimately just a label. I’m more concerned with the bigger picture, which is providing the best experience possible for our team. 

Cheers to that. And my last question for you: What message would you like to leave your employees with at the end of this? 

We have some of the brightest minds and best employees in the world and I’m excited to remind them why they chose AdPurp as their workplace. 

———

Powerful words, Kyle, and thank you for spending some time addressing that digital elephant. The room is now elephant-free. Like our CEO said, the foundation for happiness is already here and now is a more exciting time than ever to capitalize on the opportunities we have for betterment. 

Sure, we’ll be going through 2021 with one less award, but the AdPurp team is still priceless and that’s nothing to ask questions about. We survived a pandemic together, albeit there were virtual murder mystery games, happy hours, and mid-day meditations to help keep us afloat. Still, we did well remotely and we’ll do even better when we’re back in office. Stay tuned team, stay tuned.

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