HubSpot is invested in workplace culture, big-time. So much so that the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based company spells out its values in a 128-slide presentation, which has been viewed more than 4 million times on LinkedIn’s SlideShare.
HubSpot’s Chief People Officer, Katie Burke, has set the culture bar high. “We want people to be over the moon,” she says, “doing cartwheels and backflips, happy every day coming to work. That’s the standard I hold our team to.”
So far, the investment has paid off. The inbound marketing and sales software company regularly tops best-places-to-work lists and attracts new talent in droves. It has scaled from 50 employees in 2008 to 2,500 HubSpotters today. It’s opened international offices in Portsmouth, Dublin, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore and Bogotá and plans to expand to Paris this year amid a global hiring push.
Now more than ever, it’s critical for HubSpot to get its culture right—to foster authentic and meaningful connections, regardless of location, role or tenure. Burke needed an intuitive, adaptable tool that encourages community and collaboration across the globe. That’s where Slack comes in.
“With Slack, employees have instant access to 2,500 people globally, all conspiring to help them. That feels right away like you’re part of a bigger picture, that you belong.”
Building authentic connections and inclusivity with Slack
If the HubSpot culture and employee experience are a product, Burke is the product manager.
“We want to give people both a compelling reason to join HubSpot and a compelling reason to stick around,” she says. That involves investing in local teams and leadership and encouraging everyone to shape, versus conform, to the culture. This adaptive strategy is what makes Burke’s job so important, and challenging. “I feel incredibly lucky that I get to help HubSpotters globally feel like they belong and find innovative ways to make sure our company is scaling with them,” she says.
Slack’s role in supporting HubSpot culture starts with new employees’ first day, when they may feel overwhelmed. “We use Slack to actually nudge people throughout their training and remind them of all the reasons they joined,” says Burke. Team leaders customize a bot to deliver exactly what they want new hires to know and when. After things have settled, a Slack notification can:
- Remind them of important first-day materials
- Connect them to employee resource groups
- Inform them of upcoming HubSpot activities
Once you’re in, transparency—one of HubSpot’s core values—is immediately apparent. Have a question for co-founder Dharmesh Shah? No problem: Send him a direct message via Slack. The absence of barriers between leadership and frontline employees is intentional. As Burke says, “Slack is a technology that helps us fill that gap, virtually and globally, to make sure we’re removing any lack of transparency throughout the organization and delivering on our promise.”
HubSpot also bridges geography through global groups that connect employees with common experiences. HubSpot has four core employee resource groups open to anyone, from entry-level HubSpotters to executives. HubSpot’s vice president of business operations, Ryan Ward, says those channels are “one of the big ways people can engage and feel connected, and like they can bring their whole self to work.”
One of these groups, Women@HubSpot, is managed by Ashley Jeffress, who says, “Slack has been one of the best ways to actually generate this community. It really provides a space for everyone to share their ideas and speak their mind.” This year, Jeffress facilitated a week of events to celebrate International Women’s Day, using Slack to rally program leaders and champion region-specific channels. “We want to ensure that everybody feels like they have the power to grow this program, regardless of where they are. It’s wonderful to see the reach that it has without me having to physically be there.”
Each day, the collaborative power of Slack helps HubSpot deliver on its promise to provide employees with an inclusive and transparent workplace, even—and especially—as it scales. Diversity programming, a global buddy system and open-channel policies flatten hierarchy and promote organizational transparency, allowing the company to retain and attract the kind of diverse talent that moves its cultural values forward.
“Our programs are open to any and all HubSpotters, regardless of how they identify. So it doesn’t matter who you are, but if you want to get involved and you want to be a part of a program, we want you there.”
Sales teams leverage Slack to grow their customer base
Slack is more than a facilitator of workplace culture. HubSpot uses it across all lines of business, from system operations to sales. For the latter, Slack has proved particularly useful, according to Jeetu Mahtani, HubSpot’s senior vice president of international operations.
Mahtani is responsible for driving growth outside the U.S., and much of that growth depends on expertly fielding incoming inquiries. “We’re the company that basically coined the term ‘inbound,’” he says, “so globally, all our reps get inbound leads.” Prior to Slack, leads would land in his team’s inboxes and sit in the system until someone could address them. But if prospects don’t receive a response within a few hours, they’ll likely move on, Mahtani points out.
Thanks to a new Slack integration, he says, “anytime we get a lead, we actually send it as a notification to our reps in Slack. They’re getting real-time notifications, whether they’re at their desks or on their phone, and can respond proactively, as opposed to waiting for something to show up in their inbox.”
After noticing that sales reps were tediously copying and pasting data between HubSpot and Slack, product manager Jingo Mante and her team built a custom Slack integration that allows users to create new HubSpot tasks, receive notifications, and search contacts right from Slack. Without the constant context-switching, the sales team can spend their time on more valuable activities, like knowledge sharing. “Anytime we win a new customer, we send a message to a Slack channel where we share details about who the customer is, why they bought and how we helped solve their pain points,” Mahtani says. “Those learnings have been really important for all of our sales reps globally.”
“Anytime we get a lead, we actually send it as a notification to our reps in Slack. They’re getting real-time notifications, whether they’re at their desks or on their phone, and can respond proactively, as opposed to waiting for something to show up in their inbox.”
Sifting through the noise to solve customer issues faster
Part of HubSpot’s success as a business lies in its support teams. Software engineers and product managers within the organization interact with the customer support group via Jira. But Jira notifications tend to flood inboxes and can quickly become a burden.
HubSpot has untangled things by utilizing Slack integrations and channels. When someone is mentioned on a Jira ticket, it will show up in that person’s Slack channel. Ward explains, “The point there was to try and help our project managers and engineers sift through some of the noise to make sure they’re aware of and responding to the most urgent customer issues.”
When it comes to customer service, HubSpot’s system operations manager, Andrew Meinert, and his team use the native Twitter integration to monitor the @hubspot support handle, which posts into the Twitter support room. Then they use Slack to organize and prioritize. “A bot deletes the post, then reposts the same content with a claim button,” says Meinert. With clear visibility on the project and who’s covering it, everyone can move on to the next issue with peace of mind. “It helps with coordination and being more responsive to our customers,” he says.
As HubSpot grows, Slack has allowed its teams to tighten up administrative tasks and increase efficiencies. “Like any organization, there are a lot of small, semi-annoying admin tasks that everybody has to do,” says Ward, “and there’s a lot of demand for us to find clever ways to move more of those into Slack. It prevents people from having to go access a completely different application for one-off tasks.”
Removing those mundane tasks is one of many ways HubSpot creates a workplace where employees are excited to show up. It’s that attention to detail and tools like Slack that enable the marketing leader to deliver on its promise to provide an inclusive, transparent and diverse workplace, where all 2,500 HubSpotters can do their best work.