At Bluetrain, we are all for having some fun at work, but something we do take pretty seriously is our core values. Why? Because we strongly believe in the culture we have created with our values as our driving force. The importance of core values to our business can’t be downplayed; they impact every area, from how our team members interact, to how we work with our clients, to how we make decisions. We like to think of our 5 values as guideposts that have proven to be a marker for the company’s success.
“We’ve been living our core values for nine years now, since they were created, and we’ve seen the amazing results of that — we’re growing and building a culture that amplifies that.” President and Founder Bryan Smith shares some useful insights as we take a deep dive into Bluetrain’s core values to see how they’ve stood the test of time and in what ways things have evolved.
Where It All Started
How do the people behind a business decide what their guiding beliefs are? In 2013, after six years in operation, Bryan and the team sat down to brainstorm ideas. They set aside a full day to workshop the business’s core values and each individual came up with their own principles. At the end of the day, everyone came together to share their ideas, and the commonalities were chosen as the five main qualities Bluetrain embodies.
“We’ve evaluated every single year and looked at, ‘is this still true to who we are?’ Our values haven’t changed for 9 years.”
What’s the importance of having company core values, you ask? For team members, they function as all-encompassing principles, offering structure and direction. These principles can influence attitude, workplace ethics, responsibility and decision making. These core values can also impact who we work with, and we often gravitate towards those with similar principles.
If you’re looking for some examples of company core values in the workplace, look no further! We’ve outlined what each of our core values mean for our business.
Bluetrain’s 5 Core Values:
Our belief: When we think of balance, we probably associate the word with work/life balance. For Bluetrain, that’s been a big part of overall well-being and success. We believe in living rewarding lives at home and at work. We work hard, but also take time to have fun together as a team.
Flexible work options – Even prior to the pandemic, Bluetrain has had a Remote Work Policy in place, and the company has had team members remote since its inception in 2007. Currently half of the staff work permanently remote outside of the Edmonton area, with team members in British Columbia, Ontario, and Europe. The other half of staff, who are local, continue to work hybrid-style (in-office part-time, and from home). We believe in flexible work options for everyone.
Bluetrain has a supportive culture for temporarily working abroad. Over the years, many people have enjoyed working remotely from Australia, Mexico, Scotland, Brazil, Colombia, lake cabins, etc. Not a bad deal!
Staying connected – It’s so important to stay connected, no matter where our team members are located. The Remote Culture Club takes care of planning monthly social activities for the team. Employees voluntarily participate in events like a virtual wine and cheese night, yoga sessions, or the most popular: a virtual worldwide scavenger hunt.
We use Slack (a messaging app) to keep up with everyone, and we have some really fun shared interest channels within the app: the Oilers, craft beer, our book club, and of course, dogs! Have you heard of Virtual Donut Coffees? Bluetrain members voluntarily sign up for the Slack app Donut, which randomly matches team members every few weeks for virtual “coffee,” or chats that are unrelated to work. Basically, it’s a 30-minute chat where we don’t talk about business! It helps that leading up to the coffee chat the app sends out prompts with some ice-breaker questions to answer ahead of time. This has been a great way to stay personally connected and get to know team members outside of work!
Prioritizing health – In the thick of the pandemic, a mental health expert ran a session to help identify the differences between burnout and depression for the team. This proved to be a great session and further encouraged everyone to take advantage of the great health benefits package Bluetrain has to offer. Coverage includes massage, chiropractic care, mental health professionals, and many more. Plus, employees are all provided an additional Health Spending Account after their first year.
Value of personal/family time – Recently, Bryan reviewed the company’s vacation policy, which was previously more industry standard. Bluetrain has now introduced a new vacation policy: “all Bluetrain employees will have a minimum of 3-weeks vacation (15 business days). This is in addition to the holiday’s office closure between Christmas and New Years. Better yet, all employees will receive 4-weeks vacation (20 business days) after only four years of continuous salaried employment.” Over 70% of the current staff were impacted by these positive changes!
Our belief: We are constantly aiming to learn new things and grow as individuals and as a company. We believe that the journey of education is a lifelong pursuit, and that this kind of lifelong learning is what will continue to push us forward as a company.
In this industry, growth is imperative! We gravitate toward people who have a desire to grow and are life-long learners. We also value those who are excited by a growing company. We’re in an industry with ample opportunity, one that is always changing, and we are working to be a leader in this field. Last year was a big year for Bluetrain — the company saw growth of 42%!
Role progression options – Part of this growth is having team members who are comfortable with change and are excited by their role evolving. Bluetrain has been focussing on clearly outlining to our team the progression of roles in each department or the options they might want to pursue. This has been helpful for everyone to be on the same track about what is expected of them (skills, training, etc) and what their role could evolve into in the future if they are willing to do what’s necessary to reach what’s required for the next level.
Life-long learners – We’ve prioritized funding for educational/training sessions to fit team members’ interests, strengths, and overall career goals. Employees are encouraged to expand their skillset and discover new interests. We also believe in sharing our knowledge with others. Bluetrain has recently partnered with a great organization called Canada Learning Code (CLC). CLC brings accessible digital learning to communities across Canada, so everyone can create with technology. CLC’s mission is to ensure those who are often underrepresented in the digital space are able to access this education. Currently, Bluetrain is developing an Analytics and SEO course in partnership with CLC that will soon be available.
Diversity and inclusion policies – Just as we want our whole team to prioritize growth, we also ensure the company itself is evolving. Bluetrain is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion through implementing policies and practices that support that vision. We will make every effort to identify and remove barriers to inclusion, and continuously improve through a process of evaluation and change. We want everyone to be fairly represented and feel comfortable in their work environment. A small example: we ask employees how they want to celebrate things like birthdays or national holidays, if at all. We are respectful and recognize that not everyone wants the same things.
During a session facilitated by CLC, the whole Bluetrain team watched the Coded Bias film, which documents the inherent biases that exist in technology. (If you haven’t seen it, it’s an eye-opening film!) The film explores how bias becomes coded into algorithms, especially those used for security. When the tech companies were made aware of this, some chose to change and make their products more equal, while others did not. CLC led a great debriefing session after the film to help our team better understand how this impacts our industry.
Our belief: We enjoy collaboration. We trust in our team to overcome challenges and achieve results. We know that our best work is produced by collaborating as a team and supporting each other every day. This team mentality also extends to our clients as we approach every business relationship as a partnership and work collaboratively with each other to meet our goals.
Team Check-ins – Soon after developing our core values, we implemented a business system to operate consistently across the company. Since implementing these techniques, all meetings operate under the same consistent agenda structures and meeting rhythm. This essentially means there’s a greater sense of cohesiveness that helps things run smoothly. Plus, having this consistent agenda means we are all working towards the same company goals, which has proven to be a powerful system.
With 24+ employees, near and far, it’s important to have everyone on the same page. Employees and managers have team meetings weekly or biweekly and each month there’s a Monthly Town Hall meeting with the full team. Here, the “Team Wins,” are celebrated and addressed, which are structured under each of our core values. An example under Teamwork might be: “Shout-out to Lisa for providing extra coverage while John was out sick this week!”
Our Passion Statement – Our Passion Statement is “Do Great Things With Great People!” and that is what we aim to do. We want to work as a team within Bluetrain, but also with our partners, clients, and community. Most of the time we find that we align in values, but if we can’t seem to work together well with a partner/client, we will make the hard call to part ways. We have to stay true to our values and Passion Statement to continue a strong team!
Speaking of our Passion Statement, Bluetrain has the Do Great Things Award, which is a small but meaningful gesture between team members. This employee recognition program allows for someone to “purchase” (using the company budget) a gift card or small gift for their peer, whether it be for a job well done or a pick-me-up on a hard day.
Our belief: Quality for us means maintaining rigorous standards for all of our work, no matter how big or small the project. We care about our work and demand accuracy. We deliver excellent client service and results.
“In this industry, quality might be considered one of the most important principles. This is what differentiates Bluetrain — we never sacrifice quality. If we do make a mistake, we will be accountable and make it right.”
This is where we sometimes find differences in either clients or partners. A great example is if someone is trying to rush a website launch but we know it simply leads to having to clean it up weeks after launch. In that instance, we always take leadership and educate the parties involved that it’s not ready and why it would be harmful to proceed — it’s because of that Quality core value. Our whole team knows management or Bryan will always be there to back them up if necessary!
Secondary quality reviews – One of the company’s great strengths has been the way in which management makes process a priority and a big part of that is implementing secondary reviews (basically a QA check by a peer). Every project, before it goes out the door, goes through a quality audit. It’s in every service and deliverable that we offer. That’s how serious we are! A senior peer review every single time.
Our belief: We believe in transparency. We take ownership of our work and are responsible for our decisions. This means transparent communication (no smoke and mirrors), being respectful of timelines and budgets, being up-front when errors occur, and taking ownership of everything we do.
“If I’m ever struggling with a decision, usually when I come to ‘Integrity,’ it often helps clarify things. It helps guide us, even if it’s painful, even if it means a loss of money in the short-term.”
In an effort to always build trusting partnerships, we maintain this by promising honest reporting. “Too often this industry involves only reporting the good and glossing over reporting the bad. Bluetrain doesn’t do that. We don’t pull out just the positive highlights. We are analytics experts, so it’s in our nature to talk about and use the data: The good and the bad.”
The Power of Our Culture
We’re proud of how our company’s culture has evolved and how it continues to grow. We have seen the positive effects of living our core values in all aspects of the business. At Bluetrain, we strive to connect with and work with great people. Do you see yourself fitting right into our team? We’re always looking to join forces with knowledgeable, driven and passionate people! Check out our Careers Page to see the latest positions we have available. Let’s do great things together!