Laura Victoria, HR Manager at Laserfiche tells us how they work, and some of the fun initiatives they have going on to engage and retain their employees. They have a largely younger workforce, so Laura shares how they attract that young talent.
Jacob Shriar: Hello everyone, I’m Jacob Shriar, Growth Manager at Officevibe and today I’m joined by Laura Victoria from Laserfiche. Laura thanks so much for taking some time to chat with me.
Laura Victoria: Absolutely, thanks for having me.
Jacob Shriar: OK, great. So let’s dive right into it. Before we start talking about Laserfiche, I want to learn more about you. So if you don’t mind, maybe we can talk a little bit about your background, how you got into HR, what you’ve done previously, really any background. Feel free to go on as long as you want.
Laura Victoria: Absolutely, OK. I’m HR Manager here at Laserfiche. I’ve been here for ten years on March 15, so I’m coming up on my anniversary in just a couple of days, actually started out here in meeting planning. Prior to Laserfiche, I had a career in meeting planning, and a career in trade magazine publishing. My college degree was in English and Journalism. So that’s my background prior to Laserfiche.
When I came here ten years ago, I actually came here as a meeting planner to produce their large-scale annual conference and other meetings and events. About a year and a half into my time here, things slowed down a little bit in my department. I was looking for some more projects and someone mentioned that the HR person was looking for a recruiter to help with some part-time recruiting efforts.
So I started doing that part-time, it serendipitously turned into a full-time opportunity and shortly thereafter I needed to hire more people to help me with the recruiting efforts here. We were growing quite a bit at the time, and we still are. I was given this unique opportunity to create a department from the ground up and decide what the processes would be and how we would go about doing things. I’ve been doing that for the past ten years.
About three years ago I was actually promoted to the HR Manager role which is another role I didn’t really have a background for. But the great thing at Laserfiche was that I’d been given the opportunity to kind of put myself to the test and see if I could do it, which I fortunately successfully have done in recruiting and now in HR. So that’s my background.
Jacob Shriar: Great, thanks for sharing that. I guess maybe for anyone watching this that might not know, maybe if you can explain what Laserfiche is. What do you guys do exactly? Give us a bit of background on the company itself.
Laura Victoria: Absolutely, so we are a software company. We are based in Long Beach, California. We’re a global company. We have offices around the world. We develop what is better known as ECM or enterprise content management software. I guess in a nutshell, what we do for organizations is we help them manage their document workflow.
We help them get content into digital form so they can access it from their laptop, from mobile devices, via the web if they’re all in different office areas. We help them develop workflows so that they can then access, and share, and archive, and retrieve those documents from their repository with any other co-workers in their business. We’ve been in business for about 27 years now. We were founded in 1987.
Jacob Shriar: OK, sweet, thanks. Sounds pretty cool, let’s dive right in. Let’s talk about the culture at Laserfiche. Why don’t you tell me what the cultures like there?
Laura Victoria: OK. You know I’d say pretty typical of most software companies. I think if you envision most software companies, you see people running around in t-shirts and jeans, getting their work done, working very hard, having a lot of fun, so we do the same. We hire a lot from the college level. I would say a good 80% plus of our workforce is in their 20s and 30s. We hire from some of the better schools across the country, and internationally as well.
We really pride ourselves in hiring very intelligent, dynamic, creative individuals who can contribute quickly to our work environment. That being said, in terms of the culture, I think that’s mirrored by the types of people that we hire. We like to be very direct in the way that we work and work with each other.
It’s a very collaborative environment. We work on small teams. We work across teams. We do a lot of things for our employees to make them feel like this is a home for them. We have a lot of different activities that we do both inside and outside the office, a lot of fun things that we do for our employees.
Jacob Shriar: Cool. Yeah that was actually going to be my next question. Why don’t you tell us a bit about some of the initiatives that you guys have going there and maybe go into more detail on some of those activities that you do for your employees to engage them, to retain them, let us know.
Laura Victoria: Sure, absolutely. I think the most important thing and this came up recently. We were just talking about a video that we decided to put up on Best Places to Work. One of the things that came up was that we empower our employees and I really think that’s one of the most important things that we do here.
Again, we bring on very smart people. We like to empower them right away. We look for people who are very resourceful and can get to work quickly, and can bring their ideas, and bring their creativity, and really contribute to the work environment. So that being said, we do a lot of things for our employees.
I think one of the most notable ones is we have free lunch in our office every day for all of our employees. We cater from all kinds of different places here in Long Beach. It might be hamburger and hot dog day. It might be Chinese food day, Mexican food, build your own sandwich day. Every once in a while we’ll bring in something really special, like we had the Ben & Jerry’s yogurt truck here recently. We do a lot of things in that regard, and again always free, every day, to all of our employees.
We have a game room adjacent to our lunch room. We have ping pong, pool, pool table, foosball. We also offer free health care to our employees. We have both an HMO and a PPO plan. Employees who join us as individuals on the HMO plan, we pick up their entire premium. Employees are only responsible for their co-pay of 20 bucks if they go to the doctor or the dentist.
That’s a really big one because companies now are starting to put more of the onus on the employee to pick up part of the tab for their premium. It’s getting very expensive, but we’re continuing to take care of that for our employees, so we’re very proud of that. We offer standard medical, dental, vision package.
I think one of the other things that’s really important to mention is our 401(k) plan which is fantastic. We match anywhere from 50 to 100% of contribution up to 15% of income which is really outside of the norm. We work with Fidelity, and even our Fidelity rep tells us; ‘Wow. You’re doing a lot more than even we are for our own employees.’ We’re very proud of that, this past year; in fact, we did a 100% match on the 401(k), so just something else that we offer to our employees.
I think outside of that, in terms of developing a culture too, Jacob, we do a lot in terms of activities. We have a sailing team. So for example, we have a sailboat with a big orange sail that says Laserfiche that we sail around the Long Beach shoreline, and so we have a sailing team. Our employees can go out and learn how to sail. We do races from Southern California back and forth to Catalina Island which is fun.
We have softball teams. We have a foodie network. We have quite a few employees who go out and try different restaurants every week for dinner, for lunch. We have a running team that participates in the local Long Beach Marathon and other 5ks and 10ks throughout the year. We put together running jerseys every year that say ‘Run Smarter’ on them. That’s our tagline, basically, and that’s a lot of fun.
We do a lot of things like this in addition to a lot of special activities, as well, centered around the holidays. For example, this past Halloween we had a costume contest, and a pumpkin carving contest. It was a lot of fun. For Valentine’s Day, we let our employees vote on four different t-shirt designs, and the winning design was revealed the day before Valentine’s. We had everybody wear the t-shirt on Valentine’s Day, so they could show their love for Laserfiche and their Laserfiche pride.
We’ve got another thing coming up in March. We’re doing a March Madness tailgate party lunch. We’re going to bring out hamburgers and hot dogs, and have everyone wear their school colors or their favorite team colors. We do a lot of employee engagement initiatives along those lines.
Jacob Shriar: That’s amazing. It sounds like a really fun place to work. That all sounds great. I want to ask you a question. As you were talking, you made me think, because it seems like you obviously have a lot of cool initiatives going there, but I’d love to learn more about how you on-board new employees. Are you willing to talk a little bit about that, and maybe share some thoughts on how you actually on-board new employees into the team?
Laura Victoria: Sure, absolutely. So the recruiting team, obviously, I have a team of four recruiters. We go out and recruit for the company. Again, very much focused on college-level recruiting, we attend a lot of career fairs, college career fairs around the U.S.
We bring employees on their first day of work, we send an email announcement out to all of our team members with their picture and a blurb about who they are, and what they’ve done, and what they enjoy doing because we really like all of our team members to get an idea of who’s joining them. We’ve also found that sharing some of these common hobbies, or activities, things they like to do, is really helpful in terms of welcoming them to the team, and someone else who maybe is a baseball fan, or a softball fan, or plays the cello will see that bio and say; ‘Hey, I see that you play the cello.’ So there’s that kind of instant, common bond that’s created.
First day of work for our employees, we basically go through a run through of our company background culture. We go through all the policies, and procedures, and regulations, that kind of thing, just to make sure they understand what the rules are, basically. Then we tour them around our office. We give them a really in-depth tour, by group, of the office areas and introduce them to all of the different team members so they have a really good sense of who all the teams are, and how they fit together, and what their specific roles are, and how they collaborate.
Then we invite them to get involved in all of these different activities, again, everything from the running to the softball. We actually have something up on our intranet on our inside page that gives them a lot of background on all the different activities they can get involved in and the contact people, so they know how to do that. We really want to introduce them not only to the work culture, but also to kind of the fun culture at Laserfiche.
Jacob Shriar: OK, cool. Thanks for sharing that. I appreciate that.
Laura Victoria: Sure.
Jacob Shriar: My next question for you is about basically about Millennials essentially. You mentioned, a few times, mainly you recruit a lot from the colleges, and you know some like, younger workers. So let’s talk a little about that because it seems like you’re not a Millennial yourself, so I just want to —
Laura Victoria: No.
Jacob Shriar: Alright, I’d love to find out how you engage Millennials. How you learn to deal with what they like because it’s a bit of a different atmosphere than what maybe you might be used to. I’d love to learn more about how you engage them, maybe if you do anything special keeping the Millennial, mostly, psyche in mind.
Laura Victoria: Absolutely, again we recruit at a lot of college campuses around the country. I have a team of recruiters who are themselves, Millennials, so I think that’s the first place to start. I certainly go out and recruit at college career fairs occasionally, but mostly it’s my team, and most of them have graduated from college within the last three to four years.
I think it’s important in terms of engagement to send them out. Another thing that we do if we’re going to go to a technical college or to, let’s say Harvey Mudd or Caltech, we like to bring our software engineer alum along with us. So if we go to Harvey Mudd College to look for software engineering candidates, we will bring our recent Harvey Mudd grads along with us because they still, have that connection to the campus, and they still know people on the campus.
They’ll get people to come to our booth, people that we want to engage with and potentially hire. I think that’s a really important point, in order to attract Millennials, one of the best things to do is have Millennials be the face of your company to a certain degree and go out there and do a lot of the recruiting. I think that’s one way that we engage them.
I think the other is by giving them opportunities for growth, for giving them leadership opportunities. Empowering them again is something that I mentioned earlier during our conversation; the opportunity to present their ideas in an environment where it’s accepted and it’s comfortable, and where their ideas might turn into something.
It might turn into an aspect of our product design, or something that we do internally to engage employees. I’m constantly getting ideas from our employees about things that they would like HR to do, and things they’d like to see. I think really listening to them and understanding what their needs are and trying to meet those needs as much as possible is really important.
Jacob Shriar: That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. I love what you’ve said about how you bring actual software developers with you to recruit the software developers. I’ve seen so many times that mistake being made where a non-technical person is hiring a technical person, and it’s honestly a recipe for failure.
My last question for you, is I’d love to, if it’s OK with you, have you kind of compare the culture at Laserfiche maybe to other companies that you’ve worked for in the past. I’m sure you’ve worked for other companies. Maybe compare and see if there are any things that Laserfiche does better, maybe they do worse, just any differences that you can share. That would be great.
Laura Victoria: Absolutely. I’d actually like to answer that question by — you know, I’ve had a pretty long career. I’ve been in the working world for about 27 years now, and when I look back through my career, three companies come to mind that I have stayed at for a length of time. This being the longest at Laserfiche, again, coming up on ten years.
When I think about the reasons why, it has a lot to do with the opportunity that I’ve been given to create, and to work with a lot of autonomy. The two other companies that gave me that opportunity were the two other companies that I stayed at for quite a bit of time. I think it has a lot to do with — when I’m here at LaserFiche and I’m working, I am just completely in the zone. I’m fully engaged in what I’m doing, and before I know it, the day is ending and it’s time for me to go home. I think that’s really, really important.
I haven’t had that at all of the companies that I’ve worked for. I haven’t been given the opportunity to create something and to work with that kind of autonomy. One of the things that Laserfiche does best is, we’ll give somebody a project and we’ll say; ‘Here’s where we would like you to end up. Here’s point A. Here’s point B. We don’t care how you get there. You can take a winding path. You can take a straight path. But just as long as you get from A to B, that’s what we’re looking for.’
I think that’s, again, what’s been so important for me in working at Laserfiche is just the opportunity and the ability to figure out on my own how to get from point A to point B, and I have not always had that at other companies I’ve worked for.
Jacob Shriar: That’s amazing. That makes tons of sense. I totally agree with you. I think it’s obvious that autonomy, it’s been proven actually that autonomy is the thing that really gets you excited, gets you engaged, and ultimately leads to higher productivity. I think we’ll end it here.
Laura Victoria: OK.
Jacob Shriar: Thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to have a chat with me.
Laura Victoria: Well thank you. I’ve had a good time. I’ve enjoyed it.
Jacob Shriar: Definitely, and accept again. Just thank you so much, and hopefully we’ll be chatting again soon.
Laura Victoria: I’d love it. Thank you so much Jacob.
Jacob Shriar: Alright, take care.
Laura Victoria: Alright, you too. Bye bye.
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