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Top Austin Workplace: Motivation and Mojitos in a Full-Grown ‘Startup’

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If you’re one of the 7 in 10 people who don’t feel engaged at work, it’s time to find a new job.

uShip may just be your next opportunity.

Sorry if this comes across as a bit, um, braggadocious, but we’re regarded as one of Austin’s quintessential startups with an often-imitated, never-matched company culture. It’s a key reason we made the 2016 Top Workplaces in Austin list, published by the Austin American-Statesman.

This is our 4th time on the list, this year ranking No. 20 among mid-size companies with 199-450 employees. Our 200+ employees (most based in Austin) are getting ready for a move into a new headquarters just south of downtown.

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Rendering of uShip’s new building complex expected to be completed in early 2017.

What the study revealed about uShip employees

The process behind this third-party study, and the survey itself, is exhaustive. Last spring employees took an anonymous survey, encouraged to be as honest and forthright as possible. The results and rating determined a company’s local rank.

What we learned, at least from uShip’s perspective, is that just as the company has matured, so too have employees’ motivations.

Back in the day, circa 2007, First Fridays (e.g. river float trips, party barges, scavenger hunts, paintball), SXSW parties, free meals, and more were all great workplace motivators.

Now, with uShip in its 13th year and in its post-pubescent startup stage, more pragmatic “motivators” are shaping employee attitudes: clear company vision and strategy, well-informed by leadership, going in the right direction, 401k matching, solid health care coverage, a great maternity and paternity leave policy, and general workplace flexibility/work-life balance.

In fact, the study found uShip scored well in areas of

  • being aligned as an organization
  • executing effectively
  • genuinely and meaningfully connecting with employees
  • managing employees well

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There IS a free lunch

Don’t get us wrong, employees still value beloved traditions of free lunch Monday through Thursday and breakfast on Fridays, as well as team-building First Fridays, mojito happy hours, crawfish boils, sports teams, community service to help flood victims, Startup Games participation, and free yoga Tuesdays. But priorities change over time. Life tends to do that to you.

Granted, no place is perfect. We’d be naive to think otherwise.

Just like every workplace in America, if not the world, there are frustrations, changes, and even a few politics to manage. But all in all, we get along, work well together and have a few laughs (ok, a lot) along the way. Co-workers aren’t just random people in the next cube who reheat horrible smelling leftovers and burn microwave popcorn. Many employees, including company alumni, feel their uShip colleagues are basically extended family.

Unsexy and Proud

Those outside the company have probably said or thought to themselves, “How can you people get so excited about logistics and shipping? Total snoozer!” Granted, shipping is likely among the Top 5 most unsexy industries, sandwiched somewhere between college textbook reselling and manufacturing bread wrapper twist ties.

The One Thing

But, here’s the thing, it’s not that uShip employees are completely jazzed about the act of shipping. It’s more that we’re jazzed about making the experience of shipping better, smoother, cheaper, faster than you’ve ever known. A win-win for all involved.

This is our goal because we completely agree, it sucks to ship large and unwieldy things like cars, boats, motorcycles, heavy equipment, that large Batman statue, furniture, rescue pets, pianos, freight and more.

This holds true whether you’re buying a car on eBay, transporting family heirlooms, relocating households, moving goods for business, or even trying to automate freight movement for a massive global logistics company.  Fortunately, we have 1 million deliveries as proof that this thing works.

It’s these reasons, and so much more, that make uShip employees enjoy coming to work each day. Happy employees are productive employees — and you don’t get to $1 billion in transactions without having some fun along the way.

Oh, by the way, we’re hiring.