NetMotion is growing. With offices in Canada, the UK, Australia and Japan, this Seattle-based company prides itself on having a dynamic, creative team and an incredibly loyal customer base. With that in mind, we sat down with NetMotion’s HR team to learn about their role in the continuing success of this diverse organization.
Christina Balam, NetMotion’s VP of Human Resources, has a passion for people. She explained that NetMotion’s HR team occupies a unique place within the company because of the way the team interacts with every employee. It’s certainly no understatement. HR has so many regular touchpoints with employees, starting with their very first interview.
Part of the time HR is the recruiter, working alongside a hiring manager. And part of the time HR is busy screening candidates and providing recommendations. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. NetMotion’s HR team is a huge driver of the company’s culture, advocating for things that help everyone thrive. In addition to managing hiring and benefits, the HR team is also in charge of global payroll, company facilities, and planning parts of the annual sales kick-off (SKO) to name a few.
On any given day, Christina and the team can be found ordering snacks and printer paper, deciding on a new office build out, working on the following year’s health insurance plans, and representing NetMotion during a phone interview with a candidate. There’s never a dull moment.
One thing that the HR team actively encourages and values is individuality. Over the years, they have taken deliberate steps to create an environment where people can bring their ‘whole self’ to work. From an employee perspective this has opened the door to diversity, giving people the agency to collaborate, communicate and be creative freely with peers. It’s resulted in a very flat hierarchy that allows every voice and every opinion to be heard and valued.
Knowing that culture is such an important part of NetMotion, you may question how it can be maintained as the company grows, especially internationally. According to the HR team, that’s why the hiring process is so important. Every candidate – no matter what position they may be looking for – is evaluated on their technical skills just as much as less tangible qualities, such as whether their personal values align with NetMotion’s.
Although many industries have faced an unfortunate downturn as a result of the global pandemic, the shift to a work-from-home environment has created an enormous need for NetMotion’s reliable remote access solutions. Like many companies, the uncertain times caused a hiring freeze in March and April, but many departments – especially sales and engineering – are now hiring again. Nicole Tong, who has been a part of NetMotion’s HR team for five years, described the current pace of hiring to be like “drinking from a firehose.”
The new, remote working environment has also been a catalyst for change within NetMotion’s hiring process. Most companies have traditionally favored local hires, and NetMotion was no different. Now, however, the HR team finds that hiring managers are far less concerned with a candidate’s location, opening the company up to casting a wider net for the best talent.
Not looking for ‘group-think’
One point that Christina likes to emphasize is that having an aligned culture doesn’t mean that we encourage ‘group think.’ In fact, having strong, meaningful relationships and open communication requires a healthy difference of opinions. We see disagreement as a totally acceptable, necessary part of reaching the best outcome for our end users. This empowers teams to debate and disagree on how to achieve their objectives, ultimately helping to refine the products and services that we provide.
“Whenever we disagree, the debate process leads to something better. It works because we all row in the same direction, with the same objectives.”Christina Balam, VP of Human Resources, NetMotion
The importance of community
As a company that values inclusivity, diversity and equality, it’s safe to say that many NetMotion employees feel very fortunate and privileged to be where we are today. Even prior to our current economic downturn and the restrictions caused by the coronavirus, NetMotion had established a reputation as a company that prides itself on community involvement and charitable giving.
We realize that we may never fully pay that back, so we do our best to pay it forward. This is where the HR team has been pivotal, helping us as a company to choose the organizations that we partner with in Seattle, as well as across the US and around the world, that have helped local communities in need.
Our culture is our people
Kelly O’Connell, our senior HR business partner, mentions that HR teams today need to balance so much more than they did in the past. The traditional eight-to-five office job was rigid and couldn’t cater to individual needs. Limited vacation time or a single medical plan option are just a couple of examples.
“Employees today expect more. They may need flexible working hours to start at 10 a.m. because of an appointment or because of their specific childcare needs. It’s up to HR to take a more active role in pushing power back into the hands of the employee. When a positive employee experience means so much, HR can be a real agent for change.”Kelly O’Connell, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, NetMotion
The breadth and depth of the role that HR plays at NetMotion cannot be overestimated. Christina, Nicole and Kelly have undeniably helped to drive a culture of positivity, gratitude and team spirit that is totally unique. It’s a great reminder that being a part of one of the best companies to work for doesn’t happen by accident.