Recently, Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka released its latest list of Best Workplaces for Millennials in Sri Lanka. The list consists of organisations that have differentiated themselves by creating a great place to work for millennials. Among the names included in the latest edition of this list is Gapstars – a B2B service provider helping innovative Dutch software companies grow rapidly with high-performing agile offshore development teams in Sri Lanka.
In recent times, Gapstars has enjoyed explosive growth as its team of IT professionals now consists of over 120+ individuals and counting with 90% of its workforce consisting of millennials. From its earliest days, the company has prioritised maintaining a healthy corporate culture. Today, these efforts have paid off immensely. The company is described by its employees from all walks of life as an inclusive workplace that celebrates their differences and provides opportunities for growth to all.
As the company continues to blaze ahead, Arteculate sat down with the leadership of Gapstars to understand how the culture is evolving to meet the unique needs of millennials.
The uniqueness of millennials
With the millennial generation coming of age, they are entering the workforce in record numbers. Having a strong affinity with the digital world, their use of technology clearly sets them apart. Unlike previous generations, millennials seek a flexible approach to work, with regular feedback, and encouragement to help them grow as individuals.
In other words, millennials seek a corporate culture that is markedly different from anything seen before – one that meets their needs. Across the world, it’s been observed that companies attracting talented millennials are naturally innovative employers not restrained by traditional norms. Hence, they are able to take their pick of the best younger talent around to achieve their long-term business goals.
The award for being among the Best Workplaces for Millennials in Sri Lanka serves recognises Gapstars as an innovative employer that’s developed a unique culture sought after by millennials. Yet, one could argue that it’s so much more than that. Companies that adapt themselves to meet the demands of millennials are innovative employers committed to listening to all of their employees. In turn, creating an inclusive workplace culture for everyone.
How Gapstars is committing to its employees
From its earliest days, Gapstars has invested in several initiatives towards the personal and professional development of its employees. These were the foundations upon, which it had built its culture where the focus was on the well-being of its employees at all levels, by giving them a voice and offering them opportunities to grow.
Helping great IT professionals understand industries
Being the bridge between innovative scale-ups in The Netherlands and agile software development teams in Colombo, the company facilitated numerous visits for its Sri Lankan team members to its client headquarters in Amsterdam. For the employees of Gapstars, such visits help them better engage with clients and gain a deeper understanding of their business.
For IT professionals this knowledge of the business domain is invaluable. While good IT professionals understand technology, great IT professionals understand how it can be utilised to solve challenges and enable their clients to succeed. With the onset of the pandemic, such engagements now take place virtually. Nevertheless, it remains a valuable learning experience for everyone at Gapstars.
A guide for growth with mentors to assist along the journey
Yet, the client engagements are only scratching the surface of the professional development initiatives within Gapstars. Through its specialised training programme called Moonshot, the company helps map out a personal development plan for its employees. In doing so, there’s a detailed roadmap, which is prized by millennials, on how they can grow over the course of their careers.
Managers at Gapstars are encouraged to guide and mentor their employees to pick up new skills. “At Gapstars, we have an open-door policy. If you want to grow, the entire team is happy to help. While working on the job, you’ll find yourself picking up new skills that you might previously have considered to be out of your wheelhouse. So it’s a constant cycle of learning and growth,” said Head of Operations at Gapstars, Meditha Karunatillaka.
Keeping everyone safe during a pandemic
The disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on to define companies. Faced with heavy financial losses, several opted for salary cuts and layoffs. However, Gapstars went against this trend. The company chose not to implement salary cuts and was committed to paying its employees on time. But that’s merely the tip of the iceberg of its response to the situation.
Further proving its commitment to safeguarding its employees and their immediate family members, Gapstars instituted a Work From Home policy. Given that its teams work remotely and build innovative technologies for fast-growing European scale-ups, the company was able to quickly implement a remote working policy. At the same time, Gapstars implemented a special COVID-19 medical insurance scheme and arranged for special care packages with household items, food, and other essentials for its employees in quarantine.
The company has also committed to ensuring its office space is fully sanitized and provides rapid antigen kits, facemasks, alongside other medicines within the premises. Such efforts highlight how Gapstars is committed to providing its employees with a safe workplace.
Making an inclusive environment where everyone is equal
According to research conducted by PwC, 85% of millennials prioritise a company’s policy on diversity, equality and workforce inclusion when deciding where to work. However, within the local IT industry, a massive gender leadership gap exists. If companies wish to attract millennial talent then it’s imperative they take affirmative action to address this issue.
For its part, Gapstars has made consistent efforts towards offering more opportunities to empower women in the local IT industry. During its current expansion, as the company grew its workforce, it focused on providing equal opportunities for all. Today, approximately 30% of the Gapstars workforce consists of women that are working across a variety of sectors such as Client Tech, Marketing, Sales, Human Resources and Recruitment.
Elaborating on these efforts, Senior Manager Marketing at Gapstars, Asma Cader, shared, “As a tech firm, we are all too aware of the gender imbalance within the workforce. This is why Gapstars is fully committed to employing and empowering more women and offering them equal opportunities to grow in their careers to establish themselves as leaders and role models.
Creating a culture that recognizes and celebrates individuals
At its core, the Gapstars culture is defined by celebrating hard work while maintaining balance. “At Gapstars, hard work is always recognised and celebrated. We have a high-performance culture that rewards your passion but also cares about you and makes sure you don’t tip over the edge,” conveyed Meditha.
To ensure its employees never tip over the metaphorical edge and maintain their mental well being, Gapstars has several company events throughout the year. These range from its annual cricket tournament, the year-end bash or any other social event in between. While the pandemic may have forced many of these events to be held virtually, they nonetheless continue to be a defining part of the Gapstars culture.
Meditha went on to describe these efforts saying, “At Gapstars the work-life balance isn’t simply a system of flexible hours of working from home options. It’s about making everyone feel like they belong and celebrating our diverse personalities. To that end, we believe the ideal corporate culture is built upon the pillars of community, flexibility, and freedom of expression.”
A unique culture sought after by millennials
Ultimately, the result of these efforts is a unique culture at Gapstars that offers millennials a great place to work. Looking towards the future, by investing in creating such a unique culture, the company can attract and retain millennial talent, which will be crucial to achieving its long-term goals.
To quote the CEO of Gapstars, Hugo Hemmen, “Whether it is great technical expertise, timely delivery, or simply the assurance that comes from a trusted developer relationship, in the end, it’s our people who make the difference. We have created an environment for talented people with a culture where people can bring their whole selves to work and flourish.”