Q Awards Company Of The Year: BambooHR

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PULL UP A CHAIR. Ben Peterson (left) and Brad Rencher (center) first met 20-plus years ago at an intramural basketball game at BYU. “His team crushed mine, and my self esteem has been low ever since,” Peterson laughs. The two didn’t reconnect until this past year when talks of Rencher joining BambooHR began. Their mutual mentor, Fraser Bullock (who also happens to be on BambooHR’s board), thought Rencher, Peterson and Ryan Sanders (right) would make a good team. “It didn’t happen overnight,” Peterson says. “It took 10-plus months of getting to know each other and making sure this was the right path. It’s a pretty cool feeling to be sitting here today on the other side of it laughing and having a great time doing what we love.” But Rencher should take note: Peterson wants a rematch.

The Human Touch

Get you an employer who looks at you the way BambooHR looks at its 600 team members.

Focused. Authentic. Humble. Hardworking. Consistent. Exceptional. That’s just a sampling of adjectives these leaders use when talking about the Bambooligans.

“Now, I’m gonna get a little awkward here, but we regularly tell them we love them,” says Ryan Sanders, co-founder of the Lindon company. “We’re in awe of them. We genuinely care about their struggles and their wins. Our appreciation for our team is at the core of everything we do.”

And people? These people know people.

BambooHR is the creator of a human resources software that “sets people free to do great work.” It was founded in 2008, has experienced triple-digit growth, and today serves 17,000+ customers, has 1.56+ million active users, and supports 30,000+ onboards a month.

Our Company of the Year has proven from its inception that an employee-centered organization can be a category-defining, industry-leading, customer-loving, game-changing force.

Legendary Leadership

Let’s start from the top, shall we? Co-founders Sanders and Ben Peterson famously founded BambooHR for the purpose of creating a great place to work. And over the past 12 years, they’ve rightfully landed on Best Companies to Work For lists nationally (hello, Forbes and Inc.) and locally (hello, us).

“A strong culture doesn’t just happen,” Sanders says. “You can’t just say something once and be done. You have to constantly beat the drum about why our values matter and how we can make them stand the test of time.”

“It also requires humility to know when something needs to be changed,” Peterson says.    

In October 2019, it was time for a company pivot in leadership. (“Ryan’s been trying to fire me for years,” Peterson jokes.)

The duo brought on Brad Rencher to serve as CEO, while they remain as co-chairmen of the board focusing on strategy. Rencher just finished an impressive 10-year run at global powerhouse Adobe, and he was chosen to help propel BambooHR to the next level.

“I have so many emotions around this,” Peterson says. “We have an opportunity to completely change this industry, and Brad is the perfect person to help lead us there. He doesn’t just fit our culture — he adds to it.”

Says Sanders: “It’s like we had this Brad-shaped hole that needed to be filled.”

You’ve Got Mail

The first item on Rencher’s to-do list? Talk to the people.

“I asked every team member to send me an email about why they love working at BambooHR and why we win all these accolades,” he says. “I got 500+ emails with meaningful responses. It was breathtaking, really.”

A new CEO can be a delicate transition, but the reason it was so seamless is because it was so purposeful.

“We were deliberate about making the transition a No. 1 priority — just because we love our people so much,” Peterson says. “It had to be done the right way and with our employees’ best interests at the forefront. It’s a testament to Brad that he came in with such intention and context.”

Competitive Spirit

BambooHR may be all about the people, but their software for fellow humans (and their resources) is equally imperative.      

“Our product team is exceptionally brilliant. These processes and systems are so complex, but the team packages them into an easy-to-use software we can send out into the world,” Rencher says. “Right now we’re at a million-plus users, but we’ll get to 20 million and then 100 million. We’re committed to that. We’ll beat the competition. And we have the wherewithal and moxie to do it. Oh, and did I mention we’re hiring? Hiring, hiring, hiring.”

We hear there’s a software for that …

Panda-monium: 3 Perks That Werk at BambooHR

  1. Brand Book of Values. 1. Enjoy quality of life. 2. Grow from good to great. 3. Be open. 4. Assume the best. 5. Do the right thing. 6. Lead from where you are. 7. Make it count.
  2. Is It Your Birthday? No work for you! “I don’t care how old you are, getting your birthday off just feels right — it turns it back into a magical day,” Sanders says. “I always feel like I’m playing hooky.”
  3. Oh, What a World. BambooHR has a program called Paid, Paid Vacation. it’s super, super cool. Every calendar year, eligible employees can receive up to $2,000 for a vacation expense reimbursement. (Three-quarter-time employees receive $1,500.) Employees are eligible after six months, and eligible expenses include travel fares, hotels, meals, and entertainment. Employees have gone to placeS like Greece, Africa, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Chicago, Alaska and Disneyland.

No But For Real

“Almost every company talks about their unique and amazing culture, so it can feel a little like been there, heard that. But before I started at BambooHR, people would say to me, ‘No, you don’t understand. This culture is actually different.’ And they were right. Ben and Ryan are continually committed to doing what is right for the people of BambooHR. They are the first ones to admit the culture is not perfect — but they are determined to make it so. They have built a company they would want to work for even if they weren’t the founders. And that right there is how you create an exceptional place to work.”

— Brad Rencher

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