Prioritizing Purpose and People at Prove
In the midst of a global pandemic, Prev Venugopal found himself searching for a new role. He knew he wanted his next step in his career to be at an organization that was focused on employee well-being. After one conversation with Prove’s executive team — including CEO and co-founder Rodger Desai — he knew he’d found the right fit. “I really resonated with the focus they had on the employee relationship with the organization, as opposed to it just being profit- and revenue-driven,” Venugopal explained. That high-level dedication to providing care and support was ultimately the reason he joined the team as the company’s new chief people officer last November.
Chief of Staff Dimitre Boyukliev has also seen how the digital identity company’s employee-centric approach to corporate mindfulness starts at the top. “Rodger is a firm believer in the notion that the people make up the company,” he said. “That’s why we’re successful. That’s why our customers are with us. And in the same tone, that’s why we go above and beyond as an organization to get behind and invest in our people.”
One of the guiding forces behind that investment is Tyler Do, Prove’s director of employer brand and culture. “From a holistic perspective, it’s all about purpose and tapping into the community of Provers who are going to make the biggest difference, because they are the ones achieving success on behalf of the organization,” said Do. “We really want to make sure we’re listening to and treating them fairly, because we couldn’t do it without them.”
With that wholesome mindset, it’s no wonder the organization was able to grow from 71 people to more than 300 global employees since 2019. “The executive team decided that growth and sustainability cannot happen in a meaningful way unless we take individuals and their well-being into account. It’s really part of the sustainability of the organization,” said Venugopal.
A Proven Support System
When the pandemic changed the typical workplace structure, Prove’s mindfulness was put to the test as the leadership team committed to a flexible reopening of the office with the appropriate safety policies in place — no matter which location team members would be returning to.
Teamwork is the blood that pumps throughout Prove. There’s a strong sense of community here and our Provers are a big part of that beautiful flow.”
This project offered an opportunity to rethink what kind of environment would meet employees’ needs — whether that meant enabling socialization through lunches, collaboration and desk pods or using midday fitness breaks to encourage more productive, focused work. “We want people to have a consistent feeling of being supported in terms of their needs,” said Venugopal.
One specific example of that is the wellness fund that allows employees to invest and engage in activities of their choosing. For some, that might look like joining a gym that was once out of their personal budget. For one particular Prover, Boyukliev recalled, it was a request for a scuba diving computer. “We didn’t really put any restrictions on what could be considered wellness,” he explained. “The biggest part of balancing work, the pandemic and this new normal of a hybrid workspace is giving people as many outlets as possible.”
Prove’s team knows how integral the opportunity to recharge and tap into oneself is to an employee’s ability to bring focus to their role. “Mindfulness and wellness are the intrinsic staples of what Prove does,” said Do. “We want to build out time for employees to have a moment to themselves to regenerate and do the things they want to do outside of work.”
While employee support is a significant part of Prove’s structure, enabling its team to find longevity and fulfillment is equally important. “It’s only part of the story to get somebody into the organization. Once they’re here, we want them to be productive, happy and engaged — and we want them to stay,” said Venugopal.
The organization also began building out an internal communications and knowledge-sharing platform and backtracked improvements to the beginning of the employee timeline. “The team spent quite a bit of time developing a streamlined onboarding and engagement plan for every employee regardless of their location,” said Venugopal.
The people team examines perks from this lens: If it benefits the individual, it’s a benefit to Prove. Along with the daily 90-minute block of time when meetings aren’t allowed and a variety of Slack channels to encourage companywide communication, employees are encouraged to dedicate ample time to have lunch, go to health appointments and attend lunch and learn sessions. For those working in the office, the New York City location boasts a wellness room — complete with Peloton bike and yoga mats — that does double-duty as a lactation room for working mothers at the company. Additionally, a partnership with Gympass provides access to athletic facilities and a suite of wellness and meditation courses.
But given the role employee feedback plays in the development of company offerings, benefits are not static. In particular, Boyukliev noted they’re exploring student loan assistance programs and 401(k) matches, and they recently added alternative avenues for professional growth. “We instituted the use of Bravely, which helps with career counseling and planning. It gives employees access to a platform that offers genuine coaching and advice on how to proceed with their careers,” he said.
Employee engagement is also one of Do’s focuses, especially in continuing to adapt to the remote distributed workforce landscape. “We really want to make sure that there is a sense of community in how we build these things out, making meaningful change through listening,” she said.
Between utilizing exploratory tools and A/B testing, Prove’s team is able to understand what perks align best with employees across the spectrum. “What might work for a mom, a single parent or someone who lives alone might be different for everyone else, so being cognizant and flexible is key,” explained Do. Operating the company’s benefits programs in this way strengthens and rounds out its offerings — and even reaches into initiatives that fortify both charitable efforts and diversity and inclusion.
Partnerships With Purpose
While taking good care of employees is a guiding light at Prove, the culture of support extends beyond the boundaries of the team itself and into organizations and purposes that align with its foundational values.
“Employees want to know that they’re working for a company that is on the same page as they are in terms of social responsibility and causes that matter to them — whether they’re political or social,” said Boyukliev. “A lot of companies choose to sweep certain issues under the rug. Here at Prove, we tackle them head on.”
Prove partners with different nonprofit organizations on a monthly basis. In February, the team supported Black Men Heal in recognition of Black History Month. “We had a couple of Black industry leaders speak about their experiences, lessons learned and how they got to be where they are,” said Boyukliev.
During International Women’s Month, Prove and its employees doubled their investment to social causes. They combined forces to uplift the women scientists of tomorrow through support of 500 Women Scientists. And through work with Nova Ukraine, they provided aid to help mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
The company has also been active in helping to combat the fallout from Covid-19 around the world. “During the pandemic, the executive team stepped up to send oxygen and machines to team members in India when their country was experiencing the worst of the virus,” Do noted.
During this difficult time, Prove also launched a Global Employee Assistance Program for international employees in the United Kingdom and India. The program addresses a complex range of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and substance abuse, stress, grief, family issues, and psychological disorders. It also offers free and confidential support for a variety of short-term needs, counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to help address personal and work-related problems.
A lot of companies choose to sweep certain issues under the rug. Here at Prove, we tackle them head on.”
And it blooms from there, Boyukliev explained. “It trickles down to the rest of the organization — everyone gets together and supports one another,” he said. “If we’re able to extend our fundraising initiatives to groups that align with our values and goals, it’s a win-win partnership for everyone.”
Both Boyukliev and Do were quick to credit each other for the meaningful work they’re doing. “You can tell Dimitre is very passionate about this. It’s why he spearheads great programs that give back and make a social impact outside of the world of Prove,” Do said.
Again, the voice of the employee is embedded in these leadership initiatives. Prove’s latest partnership with social giving platform Move the Chain is a direct result of input from staff. Boyukliev explained that he intends to continue growing and developing this approach because it makes it significantly easier to engage with nonprofits on a deeper level.
Boyukliev and his team are constantly working to make the employee experience one-of-a-kind. “How do we draw people into this environment that we’ve created? How do we best communicate it so that everyone feels welcome and knows that they’ll be successful and supported?” he asked.
One recent hurdle that presented itself was the Great Resignation. “Some folks are leaving just to go and see what else is out there, but some of them are coming back,” said Venugopal. “It’s really the culture and environment at Prove that’s causing their return, which we’re very proud of.”
And from what Boyukliev has seen in engagement surveys, there’s definitely something in Prove’s atmosphere that’s working. “One answer that really made me proud to work here was a newer employee who shared that they genuinely felt like they could be their authentic self at Prove because we are so accepting,” he said, adding that employees are not only welcomed to be themselves, but they’re encouraged to and celebrated for doing so.
That sense of belonging is also reflected in the team’s goal to create a baseline office experience across all of Prove’s markets around the world. “You want to know that you’re at Prove no matter where you are,” said Boyukliev, who has to navigate the additional challenge of keeping a “global mindset” as he explores comparable solutions and partnerships to maintain consistency.
To carry out belonging in a non-virtual context, Boyukliev encouraged leaders to gather their teams as soon as it was safe as a means of creating a more tangible sense of community: “Bring your folks together and let them know that they have a team. They belong to something — not just a Zoom meeting or computer screen.”
Keeping information centralized and accessible is something else Do’s team is working on as the company expands into new geographies. “We recently launched an intranet platform to make sure our employees would have the same unified experience of learning and understanding what’s taking place in the organization,” she said. To further close gaps in communication, Do and her team also release a monthly newsletter that highlights what’s going on across the organization. “No one feels out of the loop because they’re not in person or in a certain location. It addresses that unifying feeling,” added Boyukliev.
Award-Winning Culture and Leadership
Looking ahead, Venugopal has his sights set on furthering Prove’s mission and drawing new talent to the team. And part of that depends on fostering a culture that supports the longevity of Provers’ careers. “If somebody can come in here for several years, move around functions and across geographies and departments — and be happy and engaged doing so — that to me will be a tremendous success story,” he said. “There is so much growth, opportunity and work to go around.”
Ultimately, Prove’s leadership recognizes that, while supporting a growing, globally distributed team requires agility and focus, they have a lot to celebrate when it comes to their workforce’s contribution to the employee experience. “Teamwork is the blood that pumps throughout Prove. There’s a strong sense of community here and our Provers are a big part of that beautiful flow,” said Do.