- Talent Management
What is Squaremouth?
Much like car insurance comparison tools, Squaremouth lets travelers look at quotes, compare and ultimately purchase travel plans based on their proprietary comparison engine, as well as more than 25,000 customer reviews.
Squaremouth was established in 2006 and since then has been able to grow to more than $15 million in yearly sales. It’s also widely recognized as having an excellent customer service team.
The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, and also operates offices in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In addition to the massive collection of customer reviews that make this site a favorite among consumers searching for travel insurance and related products, Squaremouth also has a Zero Complaint Guarantee, which says if there is a complaint from a customer they will mediate with the insurance provider on behalf of the client. Unless the complaint is resolved in a way Squaremouth finds satisfactory, the provider will be taken off their website.
Working at Squaremouth
Perhaps one of the reasons Squaremouth is known for excellent customer service is because they’re also considered a great place to work. Media outlets often recognize the company culture, and in 2015, it was named as the 18th best small company to work for in Florida by Florida Trend magazine. Some of the reasons cited as to why it’s so great to work there? Personal autonomy and transparency, as well as their healthy growth.
In 2013 and 2014 the company was recognized by INC and the Tampa Bay Business Journal as well.
The office is located in downtown St. Petersburg, on the 12th floor of a building with great views, and it’s not uncommon to find employees napping or relaxing, and there’s even features like a pool table and bar area.
CEO Chris Harvey did an interview in which he said there really isn’t a set of rigid workplace policies and procedures in place at Squaremouth, and instead they look at talent management and how they interact with employees as something that’s fluid. He said they’re in the business of questioning everything, and they’re open to changes in any area of the company if they think it will be beneficial.
While Harvey may tout the lack of rules in his office, there is one thing he tells employees to do—sit in a different seat than the day before. There aren’t assigned desks, and there’s even a rug in the office dubbed the “Hangover Rug” where employees are often found lounging or even sleeping.
The ideal Squaremouth candidate is described as having an intrinsic desire for personal growth and professional success, as well as being sociable, passionate, laid-back and fun. Other desired candidate features? The ability to teach oneself and learn from others and to take ownership of both successes and challenges. They must be able to multi-task, work autonomously in a constantly changing environment, but also work as a team when it’s required.
Despite the laidback approach, the person who’s a perfect fit for Squaremouth is also described as someone who is constantly focused on the pursuit of perfect, impeccable attention to detail and a continuous desire to do things better tomorrow.
In a current job listing for a customer service representative, this is how Squaremouth describes itself to possible candidates: In addition to assisting customers, every member of our team continuously contributes to developing new ways to improve the customer service experience and staying ahead of our competitors. The Squaremouth office in downtown St. Petersburg is a unique environment housing 18 members of our team. We have no assigned desks, no physical telephones, wide open work spaces, beer on tap and an incredible view of Tampa Bay. While our employees have fun, joke around and enjoy these office amenities, they also work incredibly hard every single day.
Autonomy and Inclusion
Harvey says he looks at the business as a collaboration rather than a business in the traditional sense. Employees have the chance to create their own job title if they feel like they’re ready to move beyond what they were initially hired for.
Much of Harvey’s strategy aims to emulate not what’s typically seen in the insurance industry, but instead Silicon Valley.
The employees get to vote on most everything in the organization except for firing, and the process of hiring a new employee is looked at as a group decision.
Employees are lured in with unlimited paid vacations and they get annual bonuses. It may sound over the top, but Harvey insists it’s a model that gets the best from each employee, and he doesn’t encounter people taking advantage of their unconventional talent management strategy.
How Salaries Are Handled
The Wall Street Journal recently covered the concept of open or transparent salaries, and Squaremouth was one of the companies profiled. The employees are each asked to vote on pay raises requested by their co-workers. Employees make somewhat of a presentation or pitch as to why they deserve a raise, and if they get a majority vote, they get it. The bosses at Squaremouth are included in the vote, and while it sounds like it could quickly get out of hand, salaries for comparable jobs at other organizations are included as part of the discussion. According to Megan Singh, who works as a project manager for Squaremouth, only two of 23 raise requests have been rejected since 2010 when the policy was first implemented.
While there aren’t too many turn-downs of raise requests, Singh did concede that it was uncomfortable when she went for a second raise after moving to project management director because there were a few no votes from colleagues who said they didn’t know enough about what it was she was actually doing in her position.
Another employee interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Brandi Morse, said she asked for her first raise a few months after her first promotion, and she said it took her a while to get up the nerve and think of how she’d answer the question as to why she deserved it. She went as far as recording her presentation to practice it before going in front of coworkers, but she did end up getting the raise.
What do you think about Squaremouth’s approach to the workplace and talent management?