How Dogeared Leads with Core Values to Keep Employees Engaged Year-Round


Happiness Heroes is a Fond blog series highlighting our forward-thinking customers who are doing unique and noteworthy things to develop a company culture rooted in employee happiness.

For this installment of Happiness Heroes, we spoke with Francine Campos, Director of People Management at Dogeared, a Fond customer.

A little about Dogeared and the history of their employee engagement program…

Dogeared is a Southern California jewelry company born around the philosophy that what goes around comes around, handcrafting their designs locally, respecting the planet, and partnering with nonprofit organizations that share their vision of a better world.

A certified B Corporation, Dogeared’s mission is rooted in using business as a force for good, a value they hire upon and that is consciously lived out by their employees (or as they call them, team members). As a collective, Dogeared team members are all in for supporting the organization’s core values because they are shared, and this is directly reflected in the way they run their employee engagement program.

So how does Dogeared ensure that they’re able to offer employees an inspirational and encouraging culture that will keep them happy long-term?

It all starts during the interview process.

Upon first interaction with Dogeared, prospective employees are evaluated on competencies – such as giving back – that tie directly to the company’s core values.

  • What causes are you passionate about?
  • Are you an active volunteer?
  • What are you doing to make an impact?

These are some of the questions that Dogeared has found are important to ask candidates upfront to ensure proper alignment between the employee and the type of culture they’ll be entering. In some circumstances, Dogeared has even found it valuable to ask those applying for certain positions to complete a project centered around one of their key core competencies – a fun way for the candidate to feel out how their own values may intersect with the organizations.

Reinforcing core values from day one.

Onboarding at Dogeared is truly centered around relationship-building and making sure that every new hire feels like a valued member of the team. As part of the process, Dogeared has found that buddy programs work extremely well to set that welcome tone. Heading out to lunch with your new hire buddy can be expected on your first day, as can spending time with the Social Impact Manager to talk about Dogeared’s giving back programs over a cup of coffee. On the first day of work, employees are also given the opportunity to join one of the many service teams the company offers to get them engaged right off the bat. A sampling of the different teams to choose from:

  • Safety Team
  • Eco-friendly Team
  • Wellness Team

Just to name a few…

Focusing on day-to-day engagement.

As Dogeared has learned first-hand, maintaining a strong internal culture can be challenging for companies as they scale. To ensure they’re keeping up with this exciting growth without sacrificing the things that have made Dogeared such a desirable place to work, their HR department pulls out all the stops. Here are a few ways Dogeared has set themselves apart when it comes to ensuring their carefully selected employee base is happy and engaged!

1. Culture-Focused Roles
Dogeared has two roles dedicated to regularly keeping team members engaged: (1) Social Impact Manager, and (2) Culture Assistant. The company has invested in a team to ensure that the internal culture, as well as the relationship between Dogeared and their outside partners, are constantly nurtured. While some companies make investments in roles tied to ROI, Dogeared has found putting those resources towards positions focused on maintaining employee happiness and engagement has been invaluable for them.

2. Volunteer Hours
Giving back and making an impact is an important part of working at Dogeared so instead of donating money to nonprofits, volunteer hours are given to all team members to spend helping out right in their own communities. Four years ago when this program first started, one person volunteered for one day (or 8 hours). Since then, employee engagement has skyrocketed with employees donating 1200+ hours of time in 2015 and 1800+ hours in 2016. Dogeared has found that providing paid volunteer hours to their employees keeps them more engaged and excited to come to work each day.

3. Service Teams
Remember those service teams we talked about earlier? They’ve had a huge impact on Dogeared’s employee engagement in a variety of ways. For example, the Eco-Friendly Team has helped the company to reduce their paper consumption by 30% in the last year – a tangible impact that every employee can feel good about contributing to. Or the Wellness Team which organizes campaigns focused on bettering the mind, body, and spirit of all Dogeared’s team members. From monthly group fitness classes to 10-minute in-office massages, this team encourages employees to make healthy choices with the support of the collective.

4. Pulse Surveys
Outside of the more robust yearly engagement surveys, Dogeared relies on quick pulse surveys to gauge the health of their culture on a more frequent basis. Questions such as, “We had a massage therapist come in today, did you like it?” could be asked, with an option to recommend something else that may be more suitable.

5. Direct Line to the Owner
What better way to make employees feel valued than by showing them their voices are heard! Dogeared encourages all employees to email an alias with any idea that they may have. It could be as simple as suggesting a team-bonding activity or as big as suggesting a new idea for the growth of the company. The best part? They all get a response.

6. Employee Emergency Fund
Perhaps the program most telling of the culture that Dogeared fosters is their Employee Emergency Fund, a large pot of emergency money employees can pull from should any unfortunate situations arise in their lives. Driven by employees, if you need to borrow the money you’re free to with the hope that you’re able to pay it back eventually so someone else has the opportunity to borrow it themselves. (Fun fact: everyone has paid it back after they’ve used it!)

While not all companies may be able to adopt each of these best practices from Dogeared’s engagement program, it’s clear that by leading with core values assessment during the interview process and offering programs that directly tie to those values to keep employees engaged day-to-day, you’re likely to have a winning combination.

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