How SurveyMonkey’s new chief people officer engages employees

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As the first chief people officer for SurveyMonkey, Becky Cantieri’s recent promotion from her role as senior vice president of human resources shows how seriously the firm is taking employee engagement and retention. Last October, Cantieri was named one of EBN’s Benny Award winners. The HR veteran, who before joining SurveyMonkey in 2011 worked at Yahoo, spoke with EBN about her new role, how she connects with employees and why offering great benefits help the industry outside the walls of SurveyMonkey. The following is an edited and condensed interview.

Employee Benefit News: After serving as senior vice president of human resources, you are now the SurveyMonkey’s first ever chief people officer. Is this a new title?

Becky Cantieri: There has not been a chief people officer [here at SurveyMonkey]. More than this being a new job or a new role, it’s about the importance of people, talent and building strong people operations that help deliver great business outcomes.

EBN: Do you have a new mandate with the new title?

Cantieri: Not specifically. I remain responsible for what I like to think as the candidate and employee experience at SurveyMonkey. It spans all of your traditional HR functions as well as facilities and physical office space experience that we create, as well as our diversity and inclusion initiatives and really driving culture here at SurveyMonkey. It’s a nice big remit where we can have a really great impact.

EBN: Do you have any plans to implement new benefits?

Cantieri: We will continue to push the envelope in this space. We’ll continue to think about what will have a strong impact on our industry so it’s not enough just to have a great impact on our employees’ experiences but management wants us to set a really good example in our industry, too. Whether it’s around leave benefits, parents and the integration of work and life, we are doing everything we can to ensure a sense of belonging and genuine growth for our employees. We’ll partner with other companies in our space, but we really do want to try to push the needle forward on these types of things.

EBN: What kind of benefits do you think are important?

Cantieri: We’ve found the benefits that matter most across the board are benefits that allow people to integrate work with life outside of work. These include extended parental leave programs to ease the transition back to work, holidays, sabbaticals and bereavement pay. As a result, we’ve been introducing new, industry-leading employee policies in the last few years, including unlimited personal time off, 16 weeks of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, extended bereavement leave and more. These policies have been tremendously well-received and will help employees focus on family when it’s a priority.

EBN: Why is it important for SurveyMonkey to be an example within the HR and benefits community?

Cantieri: We would love to broaden our impact outside of the technology industry, and I think it’s important for a couple of reasons. Our mission at SurveyMonkey is to empower the curious. Everything that we do is focused on interacting with our employees and thinking about employee engagement. Culture, belonging and inclusion starts out with this underlying curiosity and the idea of using people-powered data and our people happen to be our employees to help shape our agenda.

In the D&I space, for example, we’ve been thoughtful and creative with our [new] belonging and inclusion survey (which asks employees questions about furthering their career or if they feel comfortable expressing their opinions at work in an effort to gauge if employees want to stay at SurveyMonkey). Or the SurveyMonkey Engage product that we’re launching in the market or being transparent with our values — it’s all part of an ongoing dialogue with our employees to understand the experience that were they are having here and how we can continue to improve the experience over time. Why not share our insights or experience and more importantly our product offerings with others in our industry to position them to do the same thing?

EBN: Tell me about SurveyMonkey Engage.

Cantieri: SurveyMonkey Engage is a platform that helps measure employee engagement. It’s a holistic framework with pre-written surveys that has a cadence to cater to these ongoing conversations. Our users have been a primary use case for SurveyMonkey for a long time and in addressing those needs of our customers, we transformed it from a helpful template to a thoughtful solution that helps companies measure employee engagement in an ongoing dialogue over time. It’s not simply a static measurement that you do once a year; it’s an ongoing conversation where you understand the experiences of employees in your workplace.

EBN: How are you going to address retaining SurveyMonkey employees in a growing economy?

Cantieri: Attracting and retaining great talent at SurveyMonkey is an ongoing effort. It’s not something that we would do simply as a response to a tax cut or to a market that is heating up. We want to create great employee experiences where we can help inspire their growth and create a collaborative and inclusive workplace where we celebrate their curiosity. It’s not a program that will start now. It’s a journey that we’ve been on for a long time. We want them to come here and be able to do the best work of their lives, have a really meaningful career experience and to have a great impact both internally and externally.

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Workforce management Employee engagement Workplace culture Employee communications Employee relations Employee retention