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How we live our values at Uplevel

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    Written By uplevel
    How we live our values at Uplevel

    In true startup spirit, Uplevel is a young company that embraces our ability to quickly evolve. Our team of thirty-plus engineers, designers, and problem-solvers thrives because of the ability to re-imagine and iterate. That kind of flexibility stands out against some of our past experiences at larger corporations that operated on a basis of set structure.

    As we grow, we’ve shifted our mission to align with growing user needs. We sharpened our focus to help engineering teams meet their product goals without burning out their people. We’re faced with new decisions every day—that’s where our core values come in.

    Our core values speak less to what we’re doing, more to how we do it. They also shape how we structure our company culture and policies. Here’s a look at how we live our values.

    Our core values

    We are guided by two core values:

    • People first.
    • Progress over perfection.

    The theories behind these values shape the way we approach questions and make decisions. What does that mean?

    People first. We humanize work for our employees and customers, and work with others that do the same.

    • Design and create with empathy for the front line developer. We create the product with a keen eye on the individual contributor experience. While many tools cater to senior leadership, we believe that everyone in the org deserves dedicated support.
    • Meet our customers’ needs while taking care of each other, and ourselves. Business success relies on personal well-being; we hold them with equal value.
    • Communicate transparently. We care personally, not just for the sake of the business, but for the sake of healthy collaboration. This also means that, when faced with different perspectives, we challenge politely and directly. Passive communication tends to be ineffective.

    Progress over perfection. We are solving a problem that’s never been solved. This calls for creative innovation.

    • Have bias for action. We encourage all team members to take initiative, instead of waiting for direction. We all joined this team because of our many talents; we put our skills and knowledge to use however we can.
    • Test and iterate. First attempts don’t always produce expected results. That’s okay. If you fail, learn from the outcome and try again.
    • Debate and commit—even if you don’t agree with the outcome. Every group has diverse opinions. When we come together, we communicate collaboratively, and ultimately have to arrive at a decision. We ask that everyone support the chosen outcome, even if it wasn’t your choice.

    How we live our values

    People first is supported by taking care of personal well-being and career development. We give this in two ways: money and time.

    • Annual stipends. Every Uplevel team member receives an annual stipend for both personal development ($500) and professional development ($1500). This can fund a class, training, or equipment.
    • Annual office closures. In total each year, we close the office for three full weeks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and August). We know that start-up culture can feel 24/7, so we designate these days as OOO for the entire office. That way, everyone gets a break, and no one receives work emails while on vacation (or staycation). This policy began during the early era of COVID-19, when people weren’t taking vacation. We decided to close for a week in August and found it so successful that it’s now an ongoing policy.
    • Monthly mental health days. Uplevel also closes for a monthly mental health day. This day of disconnection allows people to refresh on a more regular basis to avoid burnout.
    • Unlimited Personal Time Off (PTO). We don’t put a cap on time off. Instead, we encourage everyone to take the time they need, while still fulfilling their responsibilities. We ensure adequate rest and recharge, we encourage everyone to take at least two weeks off every year.
    • Flexible working hours. Each person knows their unique working style. We have a culture of deep trust for everyone to set their own hours.
    • Collaborative culture. “That’s not my job” doesn’t exist here. We work together toward a common goal.

    Progress over perfection 

    • Tri-annual Hackathons. Three times a year, we take a pause from our standard product roadmap and hold a Hackathon. Employees get to deep-dive into budding ideas and passion projects, spending the entire week on brainstorms and execution. This experiments with new types of working and sparks collaboration between teams. A few Hackathon ideas have become strong parts of our core product, like some of our WFH-focused features.
    • Responsive roadmap. Uplevel has a strong vision of what’s ahead, but we’re not afraid to pivot. The company re-prioritizes based on team and customer needs. For example, we started with a stronger focus on people metrics and gradually redirected to strengthen a focus on how people were getting work done. Working here isn’t about mandates, but about listening to customer insights to guide the direction of our product.
    • Monthly feature releases. No matter what feature we are working on, we aim to release an update every month in the name of continuous iteration and learning. This allows us to support an experimental and progressive work environment and gives space for changing user needs.
    • True retro feedback integration. Lots of teams do sprint and project retros, inevitably with varying results. We use our own product daily and hold ourselves accountable to improving our process every two weeks. We may try something new and learn that it doesn’t work for us, but we welcome new ideas and a steadfast commitment to evolving.

    We believe that these core values and integrations represent the future of corporate culture. Intrigued? Explore open positions at Uplevel.