‘Don’t #@!% the customer’ - behind Atlassian’s epic HR program

Paid volunteer leave and creative staff mottos are just some of the HR initiatives of Australian HR Award winner Atlassian.

Software developer Atlassian has taken first prize in the prestigious AustralianSuper Employer of Choice category at the 2015 Australian HR Awards for its inherent focus on teamwork in the workplace.

Many companies talk the talk about teamwork but Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have taken this to new levels after registering their company’s ticker on the NASDAQ stock exchange as “team”.

With mottos including “we’re for teams” and “don’t #@!% the customer,” Atlassian made an impressive debut on the American stock exchange in December 2015, raising over $500 million from its initial private offering.

"The ticker symbol, TEAM, is a dedication of what matters most to us and we dedicate this day to teams everywhere and to team work," Mr Cannon-Brookes told the floor at the company’s IPO debut.
And indeed, this philosophy permeates the core values of the company. “We want all Atlassians to feel like they work with Atlassian, not for Atlassian,” the founders say. “We think it’s important to have fun with your workmates while working and contributing to the Atlassian team.”

With initiatives such as five days paid volunteer leave annually to participate in a cause of their choice, paid parental leave schemes, a buddy system to introduce new employees, Atlassian also topped BRW’s Great Places to Work list in 2015.

The brainchild of young Australians and university pals Mr Cannon-Brookes and Mr Farquhar, Atlassian is a software company which builds platforms and tools for businesses.

And unlike many big software companies, Atlassian has opted for word-of-mouth marketing over a targeted “sales force”, in a move to keep costs down and pass benefits onto its employees.

Mr Cannon-Brookes says sharing in profits and recognising performance is one of the fundamental goals of the company’s growth.

In 2010 Atlassian invested millions of dollars to make every staff member a co-owner through introducing its Employee Share Options Plan (ESOP), an almost unprecedented move for a privately owned company.

“The objective of the bonus plan is to integrate all Atlassian employees as a united team with common goals,” Mr Farquhar says, adding that it improves employee retention and encourages performance.

Atlassian HR Director Kelie Egan will be speaking at the National HR Summit on 6-7 April 2016. Nominations for the 2016 Australian HR Awards will open on 18 April 2016.


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