At Applied Predictive Technologies, it pays to speak up.
The Arlington-based data analytics software company relies heavily on employee feedback to shape all manner of workplace policies, from what foods are stocked in the kitchen to the type of health-care coverage the company offers.
“If there’s something that is going to increase your happiness throughout the day, APT is very willing to make that happen and do it very quickly,” said Alonzo Benavides, a principal engineer.
During semiannual performance reviews, staffers receive an assessment of their work, but they are also asked to evaluate the company. Managers collect the ideas and submit them to human resource leaders, who then look into implementing them.
Some of the suggestions seek small touches, such as adding gluten-free cereal to the firm’s wide selection of free snacks and drinks. Benavides requested that men be allowed to wear shorts to the office on hot days, and leaders agreed to loosen the dress code.
Other times, employee feedback has led to more strategic innovations. Staffers asked APT to implement its own version of “20 percent time,” a policy made famous by Google in which staffers are allowed to spend a certain number of hours per week pursuing side projects and experiments of their own choosing. APT tailored this concept for its own business needs by launching what it calls Ideas Marketplace. Once a month, employees from any level or department can pitch a new idea to the company’s engineers. The engineers select the pitches they are most interested in, and then get to spend some time each Monday working on them.
APT helps major global companies such as Wal-Mart, Staples and McDonald’s leverage big data to figure out how their marketing, pricing and other factors are impacting their bottom lines.
Last year, the firm received a $100 million investment from Goldman Sachs. With the help of that infusion of cash, the company has been growing its workforce at a rapid clip, adding about 60 workers last year. It plans to hire about 80 more in 2014. One of its new hires is Chief Financial Officer Jeff Babka, an executive who has experience taking private companies public.
As the firm works to recruit top talent for its openings, it has a broad range of benefits aimed at keeping workers happy.
The company’s game room is equipped with foosball, a Ping-Pong table and multiple TV monitors for playing video games on Xbox and PlayStation. The room is specially equipped with extra sound insulation because the games can get rowdy.
APT pays 100 percent of workers’ health-care premiums and offers a $50 monthly healthy living benefit, which staffers can put toward a gym membership, yoga class, Weight Watchers program or other wellness initiative.
For the civic-minded, APT offers staffers a platform to do pro bono work for local nonprofits. The all-night events, known as Data Dives, invite an organization to submit to APT two to three analytics or software questions they’d like help with, along with relevant data. Then, employees spend 24 or 48 hours working on the project, using their know-how to help cash-strapped nonprofits solve complicated problems. In May, the company worked with the Capital Area Food Bank to optimize distribution of resources by building a predictive model that will allow the nonprofit to anticipate food orders by Zip code. APT also helped the nonprofit evaluate its purchasing decisions by weighing supply and demand levels in various food categories.