INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based tech networking platform Powderkeg will present the inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards in September. In June, 50 Hoosier tech companies were named finalists for the awards, which include categories such as Overall Culture, Emerging Culture and Social Impact. This week, we spotlight five more finalists who talk about what culture means to their companies.

We asked representatives from each tech company a series of questions about company culture:

cloudseal.io (Bloomington) - Ryan Newton, co-founder and CEO

Why is culture important to your company? 

We're a heavily remote company, so if we don't identify strongly as a team, we can easily drift out of sync.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Being an academic spin-out, we encourage new technical employees (developers) to become steeped in the research relevant to their day-to-day coding, and attend academic conferences to sample from that culture.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

We're able to recruit software developers from larger, coastal tech companies through our remote-friendly and flexible work policies. We have a culture of using bleeding edge tools and technologies, including programming languages (Rust). This enables us to encourage programmer's curious side, rather than sticking to conservative, mainstream choices.

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Flexware Innovation (Fishers) - Matt Heiden, Director of Talent Management

Why is culture important to your company? 

Flexware is a company centered on people, which is what we believe makes a great culture. We spell this out in our official ‘Promise to our Employees,’ which is “to have a positive and lasting impact on you and your family by creating a healthy and engaging work environment.” Our leaders work hard to maintain a healthy environment where are people are supported personally as well as professionally.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

Sometime ago, in Flexware's early days, we started calling our engineers "Flexdogs".  This has grown to be an endearing term that describes what it means to be on the Flexware team. Flexdogs are high-performing individuals who embody our 4 Core Values, and also have unique hobbies and interests outside of work. A Flexdog is also known for having a servant heart and strong desire to help others succeed, so we live that through the work we do for our customers as well as inspiring each other. GO DOGS!!

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

When we hire people that have Flexdog DNA, they support and ultimately enhance our culture. For a candidate, the first thing we assess is our Core Values, as these guide how we work and make decisions.  We believe alignment of these are critical for the success of potential hires and current Flexdogs.

  • Never Stop Learning - Improvement come through curiosity
  • Say It Like It Is - Strive to communicate honestly and humbly
  • Own It - See it. Do it. Finish it.
  • Be Healthy - Stay fit personally, relationally, and financially

Therefore, when we hire the right people that have Flexdog DNA, we are able to make a positive impact on our clients, in our communities, but also on our own employees and families.

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Formstack (Fishers) - Justin Flynn, Talent Management Lead

Why is culture important to your company?

Formstack would not be what we are today if it was not for the people that make it work everyday. Our culture is absolutely our driving force here and we understand that in order to maintain our growing company, the people have to be engaged and happy. That is only done through living our culture values every single day from the top of the organization, down. We also have over 50% of our workforce working remotely all over the world, and that would not possible if our culture was not lived out virtually and in office locations. 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

This is a two part answer really but all revolve about being extremely purposeful in people leading cultural factors here. One initiative is that we have specific Culture Committee that focus on events or meetings in our locations and remotely. These committees allow us to have consistent cultural events and times away from the day-to-day to spend time together with others in the organization.

We also have a rotation program called Formstack Fun that is led by different departments once a month that is inclusive of EVERYONE at the same time. These are virtual meetings that can be something like Formstack Newlywed Game, a Truth or Dare, or even a virtual Escape Room.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

For recruitment, we promote our culture from the second a candidate sees our site, posting, or application. We have our values proudly listed on our career page and in our About Us video. In our final interviews, we include Culture Champions, a Formstacker that is not directly a peer to the role, to the interview to only ask culture based questions and they have equal say of hiring that peers do. 

In retention, our culture lives in every aspect of our training and development, annual reviews, 360 reviews, and even our company wide communications. Our annual reviews are based on our two buckets of culture, Results Matter and Relationships Matter. We have guided training and development paths here at Formstack that are all at their foundation, based on our culture values.

From the very onset of joining Formstack, you are assigned a Culture Captain to guide you through your first two months of employment here, typically very heavily from a cultural standpoint.

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SNAPSHYFT (Indianapolis) - Thor Wood, Founder & CEO

Why is culture important to your company?

I believe a culture of success begins with self awareness and deep engagement, as well as communication, collaboration, and accountability. For starters, we've codified our transparent stance in how we view and operate, on behalf of and for, both the users (workers) and the businesses (customers) on our platform through Community Guidelines which are front and center and public. This creates ownership and longevity of culture, beyond the SNAPSHYFT team, for the entire platform ecosystem. Because culture is dynamic rather than static, each day we create culture by what we think, what we say, and what we do. So we adhere to these guidelines as the baseline. They govern all of us, including our internal team. And it all boils down to this: Be a good human.

What is your most creative culture initiative?

I think creating a culture of continuous improvement is essential. Always be improving. Which includes life outside of work. We begin our meetings with each individual sharing something they improved upon on a personal level or within the confines of their work environment, as well as sharing a specific problem or issue they are facing. This allows for collective celebration of big and small victories, and also opens the door for collaboration on problems. By creating time for the team to share together about something they are facing (again personal or work related) without forcing a solution right away can produce different outcomes.

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

We tend to look outside our industry sector for potential talent regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or to a certain extent location. The goal is to identify people that might elevate the team by introducing new ideas that've been cultivated from different fields, as well as work and life experiences. Of course the ability to deliver on objectives and key results (OKR's) is fundamental, but it's definitely not a replacement for culture. We actually look for cognitive diversity, in other words, differences in how people process information - how they think. This is an essential ingredient for proliferating a culture of innovation. And the ability to leverage diversity in background, experiences, and culture is a strong driver of innovation and improves the prospects for global success. By deploying different modes of thinking, cognitively diverse teams can solve complex problems at a faster clip versus teams of people that approach problems in the same fashion. What challenges need to be solved dictates what capabilities, experiences and backgrounds the team must possess to generate potential new solutions.

Our industry faces some pretty complex challenges, at least on the surface, so as a team we look for opportunities to collaborate or partner with people, groups, and companies to explore new methods that might prove to be impactful. The ability to solve complex problems strengthens our cumulative cognitive diversity and allows companies to create and survive disruptive innovation.

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SupplyKick (Indianapolis) - Natalie Rettig, Director of Talent & Culture and Trang Thomas, Manager of Growth and Buying

Why is culture important to your company?

Company culture is the result of the values that your company collectively lives by. Our values are strong, and our culture has been the foundation for our growth and has helped us meet challenges as a unified front. - Natalie Rettig, Director of Talent and Culture 

What is your most creative culture initiative?

We celebrate milestones as a company, not just as individual teams. This drives home the message that we're all working towards the same goals and when we reach them it's because of everyone's collective efforts. These celebrations have been in the form of catered lunches, raffles, offsite events and more. It gives us a chance to reconnect in a social setting, pat each other on the back and gives us something to look forward to the next time we hit a milestone. It also ensures that everyone has insight into our goals, and is tracking them along with our sales and marketing teams. - Trang Thomas, Manager of Growth and Buying 

How does culture fit into your talent recruitment and retention efforts?

I think our culture has been the primary factor in us attracting and retaining so many fantastic team members. Our growth over the last few years has certainly helped that, but candidates want to know that the growth we're experiencing has not been at the expense of people's job satisfaction. Our past and current team members speak highly of our culture, and that's more valuable than any employer branding we could create on our own. - Natalie Rettig, Director of Talent and Culture