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Best Places to Work: Q&A with Dennis Yang

Last week we celebrated our Best Places to Work in the Bay Area award! Our VP of HR Pat Schoof sat down with CEO Dennis Yang to reflect on this honor and get his perspective on what makes Udemy such a wonderful place to work. Here’s what Dennis had to share…

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Describe our company culture in five words.

Optimistic, humble, open, collaborative, and energetic.

How do you ensure all Udemy employees know they are valued?

We are big believers that engaged employees are the biggest driver of company performance, so we show employees we value them before they even start. We send a personalized gift that reflects the employee’s interests, such as flowers, wine, sneakers, etc. along with the offer. This shows prospective employees we listened to them during the interview process and that Udemy will be a place where they can pursue their passions. Additionally, our executive team sends welcome emails to make them feel included on our team from the very beginning.

We also want employees to know that we greatly value their feedback. We conduct internal surveys asking questions like, “are you proud to work at Udemy?” and “would you refer someone to work at Udemy?” We use these results to determine our net promoter score (NPS), a metric we actively track to measure employee engagement.

What do you do to create a great work environment for all Udemy employees?

Our open and honest work environment is reflected in our physical space, an open office where everyone sits together. There are no individual offices for anyone. Our leadership communicates across all of our global locations with a variety of regular activities, including a monthly “Dennis and Donuts” Q&A session with me and all-hands meetings where teams share update on priorities and also answer questions. I have lunch with new hires in their first month so I can connect directly with everyone early on. I also have virtual new hire breakfasts with employees in our Ireland and Turkey offices.

How does Udemy create opportunities for individual development and career growth at all levels of the company?

Our business is inherently focused on personal and professional development. Our employees are some of Udemy’s biggest fans — we offer them unlimited free courses and many are also instructors.

Our company values reflect our commitment to career growth and are represented by the acronym “LET’S GO”: learn, empathize, take ownership, ‘nnovate, show passion, get stuff done, open up. Employees are evaluated not only on what they do but also how they do it and how they live out our values. We conduct 360 reviews of our vice presidents and directors so managers, peers and other team members can provide constructive feedback at all levels and leaders can continue to learn and grow. Employees also set both near-term, project-based goals and long-term career goals.

Another way we support our employees pursuit of personal interests is by having flexible work hours. This allows people to participate in external clubs, events, and activities. Internally, we organize volunteer opportunities through our Social Innovation program, where employees can bond while they give back to our community. We also have Udemy groups, such as the Udemy Makers Club, that give like-minded employees a creative outlet.

What do you think are our most popular office perks?

We have a lot of great perks, the most popular being unlimited access to Udemy courses, unlimited time off, and lunch served Monday through Thursday. Lunch is not just about the food either. All employees sit down and eat together to get to know each other and build relationships with coworkers they may not interact with in their course of their regular business.

How does being a Best Place to Work affect our bottom line?

It validates our employees’ contributions and motivates them to keep working hard so Udemy remains a great place to work every day. Additionally, this recognition helps us attract and retain more of the talented employees we need to build our business and fulfill our mission of helping people everywhere explore their passions and dreams to become whoever they want to be.

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