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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Cornelissen

Achieving best-in-class employee engagement at DataCamp

As a founder, you want to achieve the company’s mission while creating an environment that employees love to work in and where they can do their best work. There are clear ways to measure the former (revenue, user growth, engagement, …), but how do you measure the latter?

As of 2018, DataCamp started measuring employee engagement and satisfaction through anonymous surveys. We decided to use a platform called CultureAmp as it enables to benchmark results against a large group of companies. As transparency is a core part of DataCamp’s culture, we typically run surveys that are not anonymous but we felt it was useful to take the temperature of the team anonymously twice a year. In this post, I’ll mention results from surveys we ran in July 2018 and in December 2018 respectively.

The goal of running these surveys was both an understanding of employee engagement across different dimensions as well as an understanding of the key factors that drive employee engagement or disengagement. In this post, we’ll discuss both. Finally, I will provide a bit of context about the misrepresentations of DataCamp’s culture and employee engagement in the twitter verse at the start of 2019.

DataCamp overall employee engagement in top 15% percentile in 2018

CultureAmp reports an aggregated score for employee engagement based on the extent to which employees agree with statements like “I am proud to work for DataCamp”, “I would recommend DataCamp as a great place to work”, etc.

July 2018 - DataCamp employee engagement based on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey
July 2018 - DataCamp employee engagement based on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey

December 2018 - DataCamp employee engagement based on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey
December 2018 - DataCamp employee engagement based on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey

Overall engagement increased from 81 to 83 during 2018. To put that number into perspective, CultureAmp provides multiple benchmarks. DataCamp is very close to 84, the top 10% percentile for the category of “new tech” and a whopping 12 percentage points above the average for that category. Another relevant benchmark is the education category with an average engagement of 69. DataCamp’s employee engagement was thus 14 and 12 percentage points higher respectively relative to its peers in the education sector.

Results across 7 areas of inclusivity

In addition to overall employee engagement, we wanted to measure inclusivity across 7 areas constructed by CultureAmp. You can find those areas in the first column of the figures below. The second column contains a bar graph that indicates the percentage of employees with a certain sentiment towards statements about this area. Blue indicates agreement, grey neutral and red disagreement respectively. The final column indicates relative over/under performance compared to the Inclusion 2018 benchmark. By the end of 2018, DataCamp outperformed the benchmark on every area, except for diversity, where it was still 3 percentage points below average by the end of 2018.

July 2018 - DataCamp results across 7 areas on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey
July 2018 - DataCamp results across 7 areas on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey

December 2018 - DataCamp results across 7 areas on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey
December 2018 - DataCamp results across 7 areas on anonymous CultureAmp D&I survey

For each area, these are some of the statements that employees could agree / disagree with to a certain extent:

Contribution to broader purpose:

  • Contribution to Broader Purpose > “the work that we do at DataCamp is important” > “I understand how my work contributes to DataCamp’s mission”

  • Belonging > “I feel respected at DataCamp” > “I feel like I belong at DataCamp” > ….

  • Voice > “I can voice a contrary opinion without fear of negative consequences” > “When I speak up, my opinion is valued” > “At DataCamp there is open and honest two-way communication”

  • Opportunities and Resources > “I know where to find information to do my job well” > “DataCamp enables me to balance work and personal life” > …

  • Decision making > “I am satisfied with how decisions are made at DataCamp” > …

  • Fairness > “People from all backgrounds have equal opportunities to succeed at DataCamp” > “My job performance is evaluated fairly” > …

  • Diversity > “DataCamp builds teams that are diverse” > “DataCamp values diversity”

What can and did we learn from those results?

On the positive side, it’s clear that DataCamp is a mission driven company where almost all employees strongly feel that they are doing impactful work that contributes to the mission of DataCamp: spreading data fluency.

On the other hand, it was also clear that the company needed to step up its game on the topic of diversity. Doing so would not only be the right thing to do, it would further improve employee satisfaction and engagement. During 2018, things improved on this front but at the end of 2018, the company is still slightly below average in this area. The whole team took this challenge seriously (special thanks to the people team), and we invested significantly in improving the diversity of the team during 2018. Some data points:

  • About 45% of new hires since the start of 2018 identified as women or non-binary

  • 64% of female, non-binary employees referred one or more people from their network to join DataCamp since start of 2018

  • Team is comprised of 23 different nationalities who speak over 19 different languages

These results were encouraging and the latest surveys in 2019 indeed show that DataCamp is now above the average for every area, including diversity.

In data we trust

Anonymous surveys seem like one of the best tools at our disposal to understand employee engagement, satisfaction and provide a measure for inclusivity in key areas. I would encourage other companies to communicate transparently about their results so we can all learn and grow together.

Finally, I am optimistic that people in the data science community will eventually place their trust in data and facts when it comes to evaluating DataCamp’s culture and HR practices. While far from perfect, the reality is that DataCamp has been performing significantly better than the vast majority of companies in the startup and Edtech space in terms of employee engagement, satisfaction, and inclusivity throughout its history.

If you believe in data and facts as a way to evaluate companies (or really anything), please spread the word. After all, it’s DataCamp’s mission to spread data fluency.

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