Litter Picking Team Shot

Source: Rubies in the Rubble

Rubies’ ‘lolagers’ have organised beach cleans, dance classes and litter picks

There’s a point in every startup’s journey where you go from a small group of super-close colleagues working around the same table, never having to schedule a meeting because you’re all there all the time, to all of a sudden having ‘functions’ and ‘functional heads of..’

At this point you start questioning: How are decisions going to be made? How are we going to communicate and celebrate success? How are we going to grow at pace? What are we going to say no to?

Most of those questions were answered by cementing our values. We’re a mission-driven business (our products are solutions to food wastage) so being ‘100% Resourceful’ was clearly a core value. As a small business, we constantly must punch above our weight, so the next was ‘Dare to be Different’. Lastly, we’re a tight team, who celebrate successes and our suppliers and customers for joining us on the journey – which we call ‘Bring the Rubies Out’.

Someone reminded me once that “a brand is a product and a story”, and how you do business is a critical part of that story. If we want to create a brand that’s going to create a huge change, we must all embody that.

To bring these values to life, with no HR function, we’ve democratised bringing our culture to life. It’s not just an offsite twice a year, it’s a daily part of how we do business. And with tiny budgets, we’re forced to be resourceful.

Here are some of our people initiatives:

  • Lolager: We love a portmanteau. LOL + Manager = Lolager. This role gives the ownership of “fun” to another team member each month. What we love about this is the variety of activities we’ve had as a result. There’s been beach cleans & dance classes (pre-Covid), to virtual cook-alongs and murder mysteries (Covid). There’s a token budget of £50 each month to cover basic expenses (or a round of drinks) – small enough that it doesn’t blow the bank and encourages everyone to be creative!
  • Feelback: We really love a portmanteau. Feeling + Feedback = Feelback. This is our pulse barometer, an anonymous survey that goes out to the team. There’s a short monthly survey and a deeper quarterly survey. We track the team’s mental and physical wellbeing, their happiness at Rubies, workload and how supported they feel. We then discuss the results as a team and make appropriate changes.
  • Team sessions: We’ve started having team sessions across the year, whether it’s diving into our values, or more recently an MBTI workshop to understand our preferences and working styles.
  • Fri-yay: Ultimately we have to hit targets, so if we hit our monthly budget we get the last Friday of the month off. This is in addition to our holiday allowance. A Friday treat, to unwind & have fun, after all the effort that’s gone in that month.

If you want to hear other initiatives, find out further detail, or have suggestions for us, I’d love to hear from you: