Sun, 25 September 2016
Ron Storn is the Vice President of the People department at Lyft. Lyft is a ride-sharing company based out of San Francisco, CA that unites technology and humans for more affordable rides. He has been with Lyft for 3 years and he is at the head of all of the recruiting and human resources for the company. Lyft has been around since 2007 and when they started they had 80 employees and now they have 1200.
Over the past 20 years the function of HR within companies has really changed. Back in the 1990s the HR department was more about execution. The head of the company would tell you who to hire and when and HR would do it, no questions asked. Nowadays it is more about being an integral part of the business and the HR department is more involved in the whole process. It doesn’t matter how good your business plan is in theory if you don’t have the people to pull it off.
With this shift in mindset about HR, companies have started spending more time figuring out how to attract and retain talent. The fast rate of growth at Lyft from 80 employees to 1200 in the last 10 years is a testament to their success with attracting and retaining employees. They are doing some really unique and effective things to get the best talent.
One hot topic nowadays is figuring out what Millennials want in a workplace. Storn states that there are three things that Millennials really want; they want to work with top notch people who they can learn from, they want to work on interesting things, and they want to have a connection to the company’s mission. Storn believes that Millennials are enthusiastic and passionate and they really want to make a difference. One of the issues companies have with Millennials is that they want to make a difference very quickly and then move on to the next thing, but the process doesn’t always happen as quickly as they want it to.
Lyft has some really unique internal programs that help create their corporate culture. One example is a tradition they have for new hires. Every two weeks they have an all hands meeting where the whole company comes together for a meeting. During this meeting they do a comedic roast of all of the new people.
Another program they have for new hires is an incentive to get to know other people within the company. They give the new hires a coffee card and tell them to take another employee who is not in their department out for coffee.
Storn says Lyft is set apart from their competition by their experience. They believe it is important to share stories with the employees to show that what they do affects their customers. One example of how a driver impacted a customer is shown in a story about a driver who was driving a passenger on Valentine’s Day. The driver handed the passenger a note that said Be My Valentine and the passenger started crying. The driver pulled over, turned off their meter and talked to the passenger for awhile. A few weeks later a friend of the passenger wrote a letter to Lyft thanking that driver for saving their friend as their friend had been contemplating suicide but felt touched by what the driver did.
Lyft also puts a lot of effort into creating a unique working atmosphere. At one of their buildings they have a secret Willy Wonka room where you push a picture to open up a door into a secret room. Their new building in Seattle will have a secret coffee bar. They also have a mixture of open and closed working spaces that allow employees to work in a space that is conducive to what they are working on. They really encourage collaborative working, so no one has an assigned office.
Lyft has four core values that they use to shape their corporate culture and employee experience. The four core values are be yourself, create fearlessly, uplift others, and make it happen. They want employees to come to work and be the same person as they are at home (they even allow dogs in the office). They encourage workers to feel empowered to fix problems on their own, focus on the team instead of I, and to do things instead of sitting back and waiting.
When it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent Storn advises managers to change their mindset and meet employees where they are at. It is important to appeal to what the employees are looking for. Make them feel like they are adding value to your company. For employees who are looking to have a better work experience Storn says make your voice heard. If you are looking for a new job, don’t focus on the job alone look at the company as a whole. He says, “Pick the company, not the role. The role will follow”.
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(Music by Ronald Jenkees)