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Why MailerLite spends on employees, not things

Do shared experiences really build better companies?

In the article “Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things,” Dr. Travis Bradberry talks about a 20-year study that reached a very powerful conclusion:

People’s happiness diminishes over time with material purchases, while it increases over time with experiences.

More specifically:

Experiences become a part of our identity. We are not our possessions, but we are the accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been.

At MailerLite, we think the same idea applies to building a company.

Just a few years ago, I worked in the financial sector. I made a good salary, got bonuses, and had a brand new car. But nobody ever asked me how I felt or what I wanted.

So when I told the company I was quitting, my boss was surprised: “You’re doing so well, why leave?”

I just didn’t belong anymore. I felt no connection with the company.

And this is why we do things differently. We want our team to feel connected, to feel happy, and to feel like we understand their needs.

Here are the three major initiatives that help us do that.

1. Give people the freedom to excel

Shared experiences connect a team more than shared consumption.

Many corporations brag about their big offices, their free booze, and their over-the-top perks. Sure, that’s all fun for while. But we believe that people feel more connected when they climb a volcano together—that’s real employee engagement, not when they compare their latest iPhones.

This is one of the reasons why we embrace remote culture: for the experience. Our team members can choose to work from any place that makes them happy and productive. Places like the Philippines, Croatia, and the States.

Hiring remote workers also grants us access to talented people from around the world. This is why you have a huge opportunity if you hire remotely.

And according to research from Horizons Workforce Consulting:

Employees who work for dream companies are 11 times more likely to stay than those in dream jobs.

They also enjoy 41% better job satisfaction, and are 3.5 times more likely to say that their job inspires them.

And if people say that, then congratulations: you have yourself a team of brand ambassadors.

2. Invest in team memories

Twice a year, MaileLite employees take a “workation,” which is a paid work trip that feels a bit like a vacation. For two weeks, the entire team comes together. Then half of the time is split between work and experiences.

On our last workation, we surfed, we snorkeled, and we rode motorbikes. We even tried slackline. These are the stories that will connect us for a very long time.

Want to create a successful long-term business? Then create a happy team.

But don’t just take our word for it. In 2014, a group led by the Stanford Graduate School of Business published a study showing that companies with positive employee morale had a better financial performance over a three-year period.

Here’s what some of our colleagues wrote on Instagram after the workation:

And you don’t need to break the bank to build great experiences. Sometimes a little planning and creativity is all you need.

For example, last summer we took a walk together in the Curonian Spit, in Lithuania. A very long 25 km walk. In the sun. Up and down the hills. It wasn’t easy, but after the walk, the free cold beer was really appreciated.

Conclusion: ever notice that after reflecting for a while on a negative experience, people’s assessment of that experience usually turns positive?

This is why a difficult activity becomes memorable and sometimes even funny in hindsight. You forget about the sunburn and the foot pain, but remember how fun it was to walk together.

3. Listen to understand, not to reply

– How are you? – Good.

– And you? – Great.

I bet you’ve had this uplifting conversation a million times, because it’s typical team member talk. But do you really know how people feel when you talk to them?

At MailerLite, we use 15Five to take the pulse of our company. Every Friday, all team members answer these simple questions:

  • What’s going well?

  • What are you proud of this week?

  • What challenges are you facing? Where are you stuck?

  • How are you feeling? What’s the morale you see around you?

  • How might we build a stronger culture as a remote/virtual team?

  • One suggestion to improve your role, team, or organization?

This gives us so many insights on our people: someone is sick, someone feels stuck on a project, someone is proud of a bug fix. Small details that matter to people and business.

At the same time, we get wonderful ideas on how to improve MailerLite. From fixing bugs to organization and documentation, to suggestions for events and improvements on our website.

Changes come from everywhere in the company, which keeps the team interested in the whole business—especially when people are involved in implementing those changes.

Happy employees ensure happy customers. And happy customers ensure happy shareholders—in that order.
—Simon Sinek

Our next experiences

We already bought flight tickets to Morocco for the next edition of our workation. And soon, the MailerLite team will have another online tea to talk about our travels, hobbies, and inspirations—just like you’d do with friends. And we just held a surprise Christmas party that will be remembered for a very long time.

Do you know what motivates us to do all this stuff? The happy faces. There’s nothing more rewarding than loving your job and knowing that people around you feel the exact same way.

Ilma Nausedaite is COO at MailerLite, a global email marketing software company based in Lithuania. MailerLite has over 210,000 customers that send 1 billion plus emails every month. Ilma believes in remote culture, collects adventures, and loves art.

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