There is a wonderful blog on the Harvard Business Review that begins by stating that workplace culture begins once the CEO walks out of the room. (The title is hilariously apt, and haven’t we all been in a similar situation?) At Razorpay though, we have always tried to subvert the norm.

Workplace culture, as a popular phrase goes, is what people do when no one is watching; both instinctively and of their own choice. For us, it was always creating and nurturing an environment where the company’s desire to be a market leader is also a personal goal for every employee.

This belief has been the cornerstone of all things Razorpay and why being recognized by the GPTW as one of the great places to work at in India means so much to us! The GPTW award proves that our version of ‘workplace culture’; with its unique mix of transparency, autonomy, and the people-first approach, is a winning formula after all.

Before I tell you how we built this culture at Razorpay, let us take a look at the GPTW Institute’s process of choosing awardees.  

Let’s understand what this award truly means…

The Great Place to Work Institute is a world leader in workplace culture assessment. For over thirty years now, this institute has conducted seminal research into what makes great office culture; and helped businesses succeed by creating stimulating and cooperative workplaces.

How? The GPTW award is a culmination of a series of surveys and employee interviews that are anonymous, and which the executives of the company have no participation in. The institute’s thorough, perfected-over-years process of assessing employee satisfaction is a unique measurement of workplace health.

What the GPTW has learnt over three decades is that one of the core drivers of company culture is trust. And the surveys and phone calls and interviews the institute conducts are time-honed processes that probe into these very feelings.

And the process validated the tenets we follow at work…

It felt both reassuring and exhilarating that the questions asked by the GPTW panel were questions we ask of ourselves every day. And while there is no ‘secret sauce’ to creating good workplace culture, here are four ingredients from Razorpay’s treasure trove that I know will add to your existing recipe:

1. Focus on your ‘tribe’

As an organisation, our prime focus has always been to create an environment and a workplace culture that nurtures every individual who walks in. The ‘employee handbook’ for us is not just a set of rules and guidelines, but also the Holy Bible of our company culture. And the basic directive is but this – ‘People First’.

By this, I mean that as a company, it is imperative that you remain interested in your employees’ growth. Trust and transparency help. So does having a workplace culture where talking about the elephants in the room is not considered taboo. And this is where the devil lies in the details.

Small things matter, and at Razorpay we do a lot of these small things- like sponsoring employee attendance at events that they would like to be a part of, and having open-door policies for all our meetings and also Slack conversations.

2. Hire right

Culture is easy when you are a group of friends working together. It gets harder with each new person you bring to the table. At Razorpay, we are extremely selective about who we invite to the tribe! Our interview process is very thorough, and we encourage cross-team interviews so every stakeholder contributes towards the hiring process.   

At the same time, we try our best to make the interviewee comfortable. I firmly believe that it is when people are feeling comfortable, that they show you what they are really made of. Everyone prepares for a hiring interview; but does everyone prepare to allow their human side to shine through? No! And if you can get through to them and understand how they are more than just a sum of their skills and experiences, you can add the best team members to your ilk.

3. Find your buzzwords. And then make them real

We foster ideation and creativity at Razorpay. Yes, they seem like buzzwords; but for us, they are our daily to-dos. We encourage people to try new things, make their mistakes and learn in the process. This creates a platform which allows everyone to play to their strengths and gives them the freedom to be their best selves at work.

When you take away the fear of failing; you create space for innovation and creativity – our prime goal from day zero!

4. Don’t delay defining your ‘culture’

Some startups start thinking about company culture when they start to reach the triple digits in terms of employee strength. I came to Razorpay when it was just a bunch of ten fresh out of IIT grads trying to create a product they believed in, and yet they knew what their workplace would be like. And that, I believe, has played an important role in the way our culture has evolved and stayed true to its genesis.

From then until now, little has changed. The ‘People Ops’ team (we don’t call ourselves HR here!) works day in and out to ensure everyone on the floor has a fulfilling time at work. Be it the TGIFs, company-wide support practice, WhatsUp sessions, or the open ‘All Hands’, our brief has always been to keep everyone happy. Because happy employees are employees who are invested in your company’s growth and give you the best of themselves, willingly.

So, that is how you go about creating a winning workplace culture…

As we scale up; and we have done a lot of it this year, the need to grow without changing our ideals is that much more important. Our goals are big, but we want to achieve it without compromising on the things that make us, us. And that includes our workplace culture.

And being recognized by the Great Place to Work Institute just tells us that we have been successful in doing what we set out to do – create groundbreaking products, with a fantabulous team of achievers and dreamers in tow.

Did I also tell you that we are currently adding to this glorious bunch of doers? If you’re interested, check this out and contact us right away! We also love our coffees, and sharing them with like-minded people 🙂