Originally published on Glassdoor.
You can’t have it all. The popular refrain has been shouted from magazine coverlines and even folk songs as a means to caution women who try to excel in their personal and professional lives. However, it’s a phrase that has also been directed towards all job seekers.
Exciting projects, innovative coworkers, a beautiful office, excellent pay — you can’t have it all.
Or so they said.
According to employees at New York-based Silverline, having it all is possible if you work with them. “You can have a job that you love, at a company you admire, with phenomenal coworkers (both in terms of personality and productivity) – Silverline’s got it all,” raved one team member. A director added, “Silverline has grown significantly over the past two years, the company has been able to retain fun small company culture.”
Pair that with unlimited vacation, flexible work options, education reimbursement programs, learning & development programs, it’s no wonder Silverline has been honored as a 2018 Best Place to Work in Glassdoor’s annual Employees’ Choice Awards.
With a near perfect rating of 4.9, Silverline has become the #1 small business on the Best Places to Work list. At the helm of Silverline’s success is CEO Gireesh Sonnad, who has a 100% CEO approval rating on Glassdoor. We managed to catch up with Sonnad to discuss the win, learn more about Silverline’s culture and to find out “What’s your favorite interview question to ask Silverline job applicants?”
Glassdoor: Congratulations on your huge “Best Places to Work” win! How does it feel to know that your employees made this win happen?
Gireesh Sonnad: Thank you so much! I am honored by the magnitude of this recognition. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the people I see and interact with every day have taken the time to show this type of support for the company. This is truly an amazing accomplishment for all of Silverline.
Glassdoor: What have you done this year to double down on employee engagement?
Gireesh Sonnad: Transparency and consistent communication is key to helping to build a solid foundation. This will support the growth of a trusting environment and a team who feels that they can truly contribute to their success and the success of the company. We regularly employ multiple channels to foster this trust and overall engagement.
One of the best ways to foster trust and employee engagement is simply to listen and discuss feedback. In addition to a complete open-door policy, I hold office hours every other week with the primary purpose of supporting that feedback mechanism. Employees tune in from home and gather in the office to hear about new developments, company strategy, and exciting news. Importantly, I directly answer ANY questions that are submitted (anonymously, through our corporate social intranet) or that are asked on the spot. The company has seen fantastic participation and have found it to be a wonderful opportunity to discover what’s important to our employees.
Additionally, we hold several organization-wide gatherings, such as quarterly All Hands meetings, that bring employees together to discuss the state of the company, share corporate goals and progress, and engage with our colleagues face-to-face.
Finally, I have recently made it a point to physically connect with each of our remote teams who do not come into the main headquarters office every day. I am doing this through a ‘Vision and Values’ Tour in which I travel to each of our satellite offices and hold focused sessions on: where we are as a company, the values we hold dear as an organization, and the future that we see as a team.
Glassdoor: Your employees love working here as we see the strong rating on Glassdoor – How do you make this a great place to work day in and day out?
Gireesh Sonnad: As an organization, we continually look for new ways to help our employees learn, enhance their lives, and further their careers. We implemented learning and development and career path initiatives, called Silverline Synapse and PowerUp!, which offer a variety of programs to foster professional and personal growth. These programs allow individuals to improve their technical and consulting skills, become subject matter experts, and share knowledge with their peers. We are enabling a world-class workforce through high-quality and timely learning opportunities.
Silverline has established a robust system to gain transparency into our employee’s goals at work and at home that everyone can be aware of. We have leveraged the Salesforce Platform to create a tool that allows our team to set individual and department goals, along with objectives for each, then measure and report on their results on a regular basis. However, not all goals are company centered; we encourage employees to also set personal goals to maintain their health and wellness.. Goals can be collaborative and employees are encouraged to push themselves above general expectations.
We also have our philanthropic initiative, Silverline Cares, and we are a proud member of the Pledge 1% movement. The goal of this initiative is to create community engagement opportunities through donations of our time, product, and profit. We recognize that participating in these opportunities to give back will also enrich and inspire the lives of our employees while strengthening our communities. My hope is that every Silverliner feels that they have given back to the community through their involvement with Silverline.
Glassdoor: Good leadership is not just one person – How do you work w/ your management teams to make sure employees have great leadership here?
Gireesh Sonnad: Silverline adheres to a core set of values that every member of the team is aware of and lives by. This includes our management team who knows that the success of the organization is driven by the success of the individual, and uses these values as guiding principles.
We continually emphasize the concept of frequent and meaningful feedback at every level. This includes our management teams providing feedback to our senior leadership, as well as every individual communicating with our management team.
It is important to be able to receive feedback as well, and we strive to give our managers the support that they need to effectively connect with their teams. There is a dedicated group in the organization that combines all ‘Peoples Managers’, who meet regularly to coach, educate, and continually groom our managers to be effective and supportive.
Glassdoor: When you’re hiring, what do you look for in informed candidates?
Gireesh Sonnad: Ultimately, I look for someone who has the passion to be part of an organization that is rapidly growing, is focused on the success of their customers, and driven by the desire to contribute to the team as a whole. Certainly, skill in their role and the ability to bring a unique perspective are important traits. But I believe that if there is a strong and meaningful fit between a candidate and the team at large, then we will be capable of incredible things.
Glassdoor: What interview questions do you ask to ensure your companies recruit great employees?
Gireesh Sonnad: “Are you willing to learn as much as you teach? Are you willing to teach as much as you learn?”
“Describe for me the best example of day that makes you excited to jump out of bed that morning.”
We care deeply about the cultural fit of every new Silverliner – for their success and ours. While it may not be unique, we make sure that our candidates have dedicated sessions with a large cross section of individuals from throughout the company – not just their department – so that we can gauge an individual’s overall fit with what we have built. We spend a great deal of time with every candidate to make sure that they will be wildly successful as a Silverliner.
Glassdoor: What keeps you at the company for the long haul?
Gireesh Sonnad: The people! It has been a truly incredible experience watching this organization grow from just a handful of people to what it is today. I am extremely proud of who we are as a team, and inspired to continue to do better through my interactions with every Silverliner. I absolutely love what I do, and the people that I do it for. I cannot wait to see what we do next.
Glassdoor: How do you recruit talent – what are some of your best practices?
Gireesh Sonnad: We view employee happiness as a competitive advantage. Employees that are excited and engaged develop strong relationships with clients which in turn, ensures our customers are also happy and having a positive experience. Employee well-being can also impact strength in talent acquisition. We encourage our employees to bring in talent that will help grow the organization in a way that they can be proud of as well. The more talented people we have, who enjoy the environment that we have created, the more successful we can become.
Glassdoor: If you could speak to millions of job seekers interested in Silverline, what would you want them to know about what it takes to succeed at Silverline?
Gireesh Sonnad: At Silverline, we pride ourselves on striving for an unparalleled Employee Experience. We are a tight-knit team made up of the best and brightest people. Our employees are problem-solvers, self-starters, and innovative technologists. If you want to succeed at Silverline, you are a person who innately loves finding solutions to difficult challenges in a truly collaborative team environment.