Today is Employee Appreciation Day (don’t forget to show your employees or co-workers some love!). Our founders Nikhil and Alejandro often repeat a simple mantra: do what you love with the people you love. To celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, they sat down to give us the scoop on their "badass team" and the secret sauce to transforming your staff into your family.
March 4 is Employee Appreciation Day
Q: Your mantra is “do what you love with the people you love.” How does that mantra reflect the culture of Back to the Roots?
Nikhil: At Back to the Roots, we've really learned that at the end of the day, it's not a company's products or profits that create success - it's the people. It's the energy in the space created by our team that's so special. There's so much talk of finding out where people should work in the terms of "for-profit" or "non-profit". I think what we've learned is those terms are becoming antiquated. It's really about "for-purpose" -and finding people who want to work for a "for-purpose" company. I feel lucky to have found happiness alongside such a driven, passionate team doing what I love, with people I love!
Q: How does BTTR show appreciation for employees every day?
Alejandro: We send love. I think its a part we need to get better at. We have such a badass team-with the attitude, passion, and hard work that everyone puts in-we can never take for granted how amazing our team is. I love making sure that once you make commitment to Back to the Roots that you going to work with cream of crop A-plus people. Honestly, it’s impossible to fully show appreciation. We strive to create a culture around great things being done and we always need to make sure we do more.
Q: BTTR started with you two as the only employees. How many employees do you have now? Are any of them people you knew before you started mushroom farming?
Nikhil: We have 16 people now, and that number will increase to around 25 by the year’s end. I didn't know any of them before I started mushroom farming, but Osvaldo is Alex's step-father. He was our first employee, an incredible rock for Back to the Roots, and now is helping manage our operations - I can't imagine being here without him!
Q: What are some ways you feel appreciated by your employees?
Alejandro: My eyes teared up a few days ago when we gave a yearly company update and at the end everyone gave us a mushroom hat and a card. Everyone signed the card and it’s amazing to be able to read the sweet notes with things that you don’t hear all the time since I’m on the road. We work hard and I love everyone I work with and to read the notes-it’s hard to describe it.
Q: What are some things you love about your employees?
Nikhil: I love being surrounded by people who all have this rare combination - an incredible commitment to excellence, are passion and purpose-led, and have a loving, caring energy. We all look out for each other. I also love our team's commitment to the details. Growing a company is hard work-really hard work-and you don't build things overnight. I love working around our team who all feel that same desire to make sure everything we do we're doing as best as possible!
Q: What are some fun things your team does together outside of work?
Alejandro: We have an undefeated soccer team in a local soccer league. Health is a big part for everyone. On our staff we have an ex-professional football player and ex-collegiate athletes so it creates so competition and comradery.
Q: On the website, you call the team the "Back to the Roots family." What makes a workplace have a family feel?
Nikhil: Family really means that, yes, we're all here to work and do our role to further the company's mission, but far greater than that we're also all here for each other. We share the same values, the same end goal, and have an underlying sense of love and respect for each other. Being a family means we're staying together through good times and bad, we lead with radical transparency in all decisions, we cover for each other, and we're supporting each other wholly - emotionally and professionally. That means giving each other the space and support to not just grow professionally, but achieve personal goals and dreams too. And it means being there for the long-term-not just talking about quarter-by-quarter performance every three months, but by looking at each person's goals for a lifetime. Being a family also means working really hard, because you don't want to disappoint or let your family down.
Q: Can you name an employee and something that couldn't have happened this year without him or her?
Alejandro: There are so many. Across the board everyone leads their team. If you’re brought onto this team, you’re not here just to do what your boss tells you to do, you’re here to think critically through all the problems. You’re the one making suggestions on what the company should do, and your boss is cheering you on.
John, our Partnerships Lead, happened to be at an event in which we met the founder of Presence Marketing, Bill Weiland. He and John started speaking and they pulled an all nighter talking. It led to Bill investing in Back to the Roots. John was in the right place at the right time and he had the hustle and grind.
Q: What are some ways the employees of BTTR show appreciation for each other?
Nikhil: As such a small team, we love showing appreciation for each other - and a lot of that stems from the small, day-to-day acknowledgements. To me, those are often the most powerful- the real-time, spontaneous expressions of gratitude. We also, "send love" at the end of each company meeting where we just create space and time for us all to say "thank you" and give appreciation for things team members did throughout the week.
Q: What are some ways that your customers express appreciation for your employees?
Nikhil: These are some of the most amazing interactions to see. I love when our buyers, customers, and community members send notes saying how they loved meeting someone on our team, the time our team took to help someone out, etc. We've received appreciation in emails, hand-written letters, videos, and photos. That connection to our community is so motivating. To see the impact our work is doing on making others happy and inspired is incredible.