99x, a software developer serving a niche global market, pays considerable attention to helping employees achieve work-life balance. It has a culture that enables anyone to work freely and independently and creates opportunities for personal and professional development. But there is much more: the company is encouraging its employees to think like entrepreneurs and pursue their own startup projects, going as far as to provide all the help they need to take their startups global.
99x has been recognized as a Great Place to Work for Millennials. What makes 99x attractive to millennials who are on the hunt for employers who place importance on their needs, values, and lifestyle choices?
Millennials expect a lot of unique things from their workplaces. A great work-life balance, being able to work freely and independently and as an individual in the tech space – exposure to trending technologies, are just a few of those. An open culture and flat organizational structure at 99x allow it to provide its people with all these advantages and more. It creates opportunities at every level for people to thrive and grow as successful professionals. Importantly, our personal goals are considered and an effort is taken to align them with the overall objectives of the company.
Here are a few things millennials globally are known to care most about. Can you share examples of how your company is dealing with each of these needs:
Work-life balance: The pandemic has really pushed us to be creative in this regard and the people of 99x themselves have stepped up to create those boundaries between work and personal life, which have got somewhat blurred working from home. Online fitness sessions with their teammates, musically inclined employees giving their newbie friends guitar lessons via Microsoft Teams and commencing wellness podcasts are a few of the initiatives rolled out. Additionally, 99x has been promoting time off work, encouraging employees to utilize their leaves. An all-staff short leave was granted recently to encourage employees to spend time with their families, with lunch/dinner for the entire family sent to their homes.
Opportunities to explore new avenues: 99x has an open, flat organizational structure where everyone – from an intern to a manager – are empowered to challenge and bring about change, without the fear of any repercussions. We refer to this as ‘leaders without titles’. Additionally, corporate strategy and objectives are broken up into structured milestones that any employee can take ownership of outside their core job role, and work towards achieving. This creates new ‘blue oceans’ for our employees to excel in. Further, 99x inspires ‘technopreneurship’ among its employees and encourages the pursuit of pet projects through its startup accelerator StartupX Foundry, by offering support, business acumen and even resources to execute these ideas and fast-track them to the global marketplace.
Clear career paths, recognition, and transparent rewards: We encourage a performance-driven culture built on a proper cycle of evaluation and recognition. This happens in multiple ways but the foundation is a 360-degree evaluation for every employee, which takes into account feedback from customers, peers, seniors, juniors and of course the employee’s own comments. Contributions across the board are recorded, evaluated and then justly rewarded. However, rewards and recognition are not limited to a yearly evaluation and are not purely financial. Frequent appreciation is encouraged among colleagues, teams, leads and from the leadership.
Education: The company reimburses professional memberships and certification fees such as IEEE, CSSL, BCS, IIBA, ISTQB certification etc. for all employees, which encourages our people to pursue activities to further their careers, without being burdened by the financial impact.
Help them feel that they are a part of something great: We believe in building all-rounders, not just technically adept professionals. 99x’s ecosystem, therefore, is set up to help our employees create their own brand and profile within the local and global tech space, with multiple platforms and mentorship programmes initiated to inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and grow while giving back to the IT community at large through experience and knowledge sharing. We also encourage our people to get involved with professional bodies and spearhead tech communities such as SLASSCOM, AWS User Group Meetup, Colombo Blockchain Meetup and more.
Sustainability and giving back to the community: Our sustainability efforts are driven by a purely voluntary team consisting of employees brought together by their passion to give back to the community. Our focus primarily lies in driving long-term educational and environmental projects to bring about sustainable change in the communities we work in. Additionally, the 99x volunteers also work on requirement-based ad-hoc relief efforts, such as supporting marginalized communities during the pandemic.
How has the company benefited by creating a workplace that’s attractive to millennials?
99x focuses on creating a great workplace for all. We’ve done this from day one through our open and hightrust culture, which promotes equal opportunities for all our people through our belief in ‘leaders without titles’ and encourages them to challenge without fear of repercussion. These are all characteristics that resonate deeply with our largest employee segment – millennials, and it is always exhilarating to see the results they can deliver in such an environment. The benefits are seen across the board – from the high levels of customer satisfaction to the resilience and dedication of all our people during the challenges created by the pandemic.
How do you align the goals of the organization with employee expectations?
And, how do you keep millennials motivated? As detailed above, 99x’s corporate strategy and objectives are broken up into structured milestones that any employee can take ownership of outside their core job role, and work towards achieving. All this creates opportunities to excel, refines leadership skills and helps them map their personal goals with the organization’s objectives. In addition to creating these opportunities for our employees to contribute to that align with their values and goals, we’ve understood that millennials require frequent feedback and recognition of their efforts. This is inculcated into our culture through a top-down approach to encourage it at all levels and is supported by both financial and non-financial merit-based incentives.
How important are training and mentoring at 99x?
The ICT industry is one that’s constantly evolving, and our employees need to constantly stay on top of global technological developments to succeed as IT professionals. Training and mentoring play a key role here. Mentoring happens at all levels in a structured way, from our internship programme to the lead level. In addition to leadership and soft skills development offered to all employees, development areas are identified during the 360-degree appraisal process to hone their technical skills. Our people have the freedom to directly approach our HR and technology departments to request training for themselves and the colleagues they lead and mentor.