At Namely, our coworkers are one of the top reasons we love what we do. The Meet Namely series spotlights real Namely employees across the company. Read on to learn how our employees are helping us build better workplaces.
Mavreen studied religion, classical Greek, and Islamic studies before serving in the Navy. When a back injury ended her Navy career prematurely, she stumbled into video game testing and realized her love of breaking things. In April, Mavreen joined Namely as a Software Testing Engineer and has since taken over testing for Namely’s mobile app—with military precision, we might add.
We chatted with Mavreen about her role and what it’s like to have a career in software testing.
How did you end up in your role at Namely?
I fell into testing. My background is actually in religious studies and classical Greek. I got my master’s in Islamic studies from the University of London and I was trained to be either an academic or intelligence officer. I briefly served in the Navy until I injured my back. While I was recuperating, a friend reached out about a job opportunity at Blizzard Entertainment, a video game company. I took the job and tested Diablo III. I ended up loving testing and that’s how I slowly moved into tech.
Namely was on my radar last year when I was hunting around for new jobs, but the timing wasn’t quite right and I accepted an opportunity at Snapchat. Unfortunately, Snapchat had significant layoffs and I was forced to job hunt again. I called up my friend who worked at Namely and the timing was right. I was technically unemployed for less than six hours and I started at Namely two weeks later.
What’s your favorite thing about your role?
I get to break things. My mom said I’d never make a career out of breaking things but look at me now! My company likes it when I break things!
What does your average work week look like?
We work in two-week sprints. So in the beginning of our sprint, I’ll have more meetings and later in the sprint I’ll work on writing automated testing for new features that are coming out or I’ll try to learn something quickly to help out another team. Right now we’re building a large framework, so I’m doing a lot of reading and evaluating to figure out what would be the right tool for us.
Is there something that would surprise people about your job?
It isn’t just about breaking things. You have to be able to put things back together in a better way. It requires a lot of imagination to think about what could potentially go wrong. When people think of engineering, they assume it’s all black and white ones and zeros, but you need to have a great imagination to be a test engineer.
If you weren’t in this role, what would you be doing?
I do a lot of screenwriting in my spare time, so I probably would have sold my soul to Netflix to get one of my series published. I’m actually writing and producing my own web series right now that will be filmed this fall. The main character makes cars and costumes for superheroes.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Namely?
I like how collaborative it is. I can walk up to anybody and say, “Hey, I have this problem and I’ve heard that you are the person who might be able to help me.” People here are always enthusiastic about answering my questions. I never found that attitude at the other companies I’ve worked for. It’s great to be able to collaborate like that.
What’s your favorite thing about working in the Engineering Department?
I don’t have a technical background and I can ask all these insanely brilliant people how things work and they are always more than happy to help.
What’s your favorite office snack?
The huge vat of M&Ms.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do your job?
You need to be able to learn quickly, imagine all the potential outcomes, and think about the big picture. It’s easy to get down in the weeds and fixate on an individual test, but you need to understand how everything is related at a macro level. We will never achieve zero-defect software, but we need to mitigate the risk so we can roll out new features faster and be certain that one change won’t bring all of Namely crashing down.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love ice hockey. I’m a huge New York Rangers fan. I’ve spent way too much money on tickets, but it’s worth it. I also volunteer with different theater groups and acting guilds. I’ll write sample scripts and sample dialogue for the actors to practice.
What was your best day at work?
I just had it! I’ve been working on code coverage for the last three weeks. It measures how many lines of code execute while you’re running automated tests. Now that it works, this functionality can help with the test framework we’re building for the front end and manual testing teams. When we’re trying to make decisions and move faster, everyone will be able to know what’s going on with a higher degree of certainty.
Who has inspired you to get to this point in your career?
I had a family friend, Pam, who passed away when I was 18. She always encouraged me to be curious, creative, and persistent and to always make the bold, scary choice. I’ve had some pretty varied experiences, but that advice is what glues them all together.
Stay tuned for more from the Meet Namely series to learn how we put HR for humans into practice.
With unemployment at record lows, companies are looking for innovative ways to attract top talent and stand out from the competition. While paid time off (PTO), family leave, and even sabbatical have all been touted as game-changing perks, there’s one workplace benefit that both helps employees disconnect and serves a greater purpose. In addition to traditional vacation days, many companies are now offering volunteer time off (VTO).
What is Volunteer Time Off?
VTO allows employees to do community service during the workday while still getting paid their usual wages. It is separate from an employee’s regular vacation days. Companies offering VTO can allow employees to choose which charity they donate their time to or can partner with local organizations that align with their brand’s mission and values. Depending on the specific policy, employees get their supervisor’s approval in advance for their day of service and submit a VTO request to the HR department. Once their application is cleared, employees volunteer on their designated day and note that the time was VTO in their company’s payroll platform.
What are the Benefits of Offering VTO?
Some detractors think VTO is just an administrative headache, but offering it has many benefits like improving employee wellbeing and employer brand.
Don’t buy it? A 2017 UnitedHealthcare study discovered that individuals who regularly volunteer report lower stress levels (79 percent), improved moods (93 percent), and improved self-esteem (88 percent). Respondents also said that volunteering has helped them develop professional and collaborative skills.
VTO also can appeal to job candidates and improve employee loyalty. A 2016 Cone Communications study revealed that 76 percent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. With millennials now the largest demographic in the workforce, corporate social responsibility is an important factor when trying to attract quality talent and retain employees. Over 70 percent of employees who volunteer at work report feeling better about their employer as a result, according to the UnitedHealthcare survey cited earlier. Even just offering one day of VTO can dramatically improve employee loyalty and demonstrate your company’s commitment to the community.
How are Other Companies Using VTO?
A 2017 employee benefits survey by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) revealed that 22 percent of U.S. companies offer VTO. Salesforce gives employees up to seven days of paid time off for volunteering and donates money to charities recommended by employees. In addition to having an entire webpage devoted to corporate responsibility, Patagonia goes a step further with its’ VTO program. It offers eight hours of VTO for all employees and an Environmental Internship Program for employees looking to make more of an impact. The program lets employees volunteer for up to two months while still receiving their pay and benefits.
Offering VTO is a great way to support your employee’s passions. That said, it isn’t the only way to keep employees engaged. Letting your employees periodically unplug and relax is key to increasing their happiness and productivity and also helps prevent employee burnout. From unlimited vacation plans to summer Fridays, we break down your options for taking your PTO program to the next level in our free ebook Building Employee Loyalty with PTO.
At Namely’s recent summer celebration, employees from all over the country came together to volunteer and celebrate the year’s achievements. As part of the festivities, employees were asked to nominate colleagues who live our core values and shape the Namely community. Our company values center around the simple idea that drives everything we do—BE HUMAN:
Be Yourself Expect Excellence
Help Each Other Unite Around Our Mission Make Our Clients Heroes Act As An Owner Namely Cares
With over 500 incredible employees across five offices, it was nearly impossible to select just a handful of winners. In the end, these individuals stood out due to their above and beyond contributions to both the business and community. Without further ado, meet the seven winners of this year’s Be Human Awards:
Yasar Mohebi, Senior Benefits Analyst
Yasar is known around the San Francisco office for his infectious free spirit. He’s always quick to volunteer for responsibilities outside of his job description and leads the charge when it comes to organizing fun team events.
“To me, ‘Be Yourself’ means recognizing that everyone has their own story, problems, and triumphs. You create a culture of acceptance when you walk a mile in another person's shoes–whether they be Nikes, Louboutins, or Converse. But not Crocs ‘cause those are just ugly.”
Sarah Mann, Talent Acquisition Partner
When Namely decided to open up a new office in Atlanta, Sarah didn’t hesitate to hop on a plane and head south to hire and train the new team. Sarah cares deeply about the Namely employee experience and does everything she can to make sure Namely is an excellent place to interview, onboard, and work.
“We all face difficult challenges in our jobs—this process is broken, this could be better, or I don’t know how to achieve that. To me, “Expect Excellence” is to be empowered to take on those challenges and thrive when the going gets tough. I joined Namely knowing that all of our employees are able to make an impact. Our culture allows us to focus on making our work better and to always drive towards meaningful results.”
Help Each Other
Aaron Manasque, Payroll Consultant
Aaron is approachable, knowledgeable, and selfless. He’s always ready to answer a question, help someone in need, and guide others to realize their full potential. From training new hires to helping out other teams, Aaron has a true teacher’s spirit and is always willing to lend a hand.
“I know how it feels to be extremely stuck on a new, complex task. I wish someone had come up to me and said, 'That's simple, just do this and that and you're done.' I want to be that person for other people. Why would I have my teammates reinvent the wheel when I can take a few minutes out of my day to save them an hour? I want people to feel welcome and supported at Namely. It just makes for such a more positive work environment.”
Unite Around Our Mission
Martin Kess, Principal Software Engineer
Martin’s dedication to diversity and inclusion within the engineering department is unrivaled. From candidate interviews to daily collaboration, Martin is always mindful of his impact on his team and the greater organization.
“Our mission is to help mid-sized companies build a better workplace. To achieve that mission, we need to build a diverse and high performing company. Every day I try to create an opportunity for individuals, teams, and departments to work together and communicate effectively. I want people to be able to bring their whole selves to work so they can apply their unique perspectives and skills to serve our customers and build that better workplace.”
Make Our Clients Heroes
Sam Rothman, Client Service Lead
Sam goes above and beyond to handle all the challenges that come his way. He’s always willing to hop on calls with clients and lend a helping hand. He never hesitates to roll his sleeves up and tackle any problem with a smile.
“‘Make Our Clients Heroes’ is the motto that shapes my mentality every day at work. Making our clients heroes means empowering them to be successful in utilizing the Namely platform to improve their HR process. Forming a partnership, not a ‘provider-client’ relationship, is what allows our clients to feel like heroes!”
Act As An Owner
Jesse Quinones, Director of Shared Services
Jesse always has a way of showing people the big picture even when they can't see it themselves. He always makes time to help others, even those not on his team. He empowers his coworkers every day and inspires them to be their best selves.
“I feel that acting as an owner is the key to our success. We are not our titles! This is simply our primary area of impact. We should all feel responsible for Namely's success and not just that of our team. We need to do our best every day to support our partners and clients. When we are empowered to act as owners we don’t look up the hierarchy for answers, we take responsibility to solve problems where they occur.”
Olivia Small, Office Coordinator
Olivia is the go-to person in the New York office. She cares deeply about the Namely employee experience and took the lead in orchestrating all of our Be Human Week volunteer programs.
“Office coordinators usually focus on keeping employees happy enough so they can perform their jobs well. But, it's more than that—it’s personal. I want to know our employee’s interests and dreams outside of work and have a real connection with them. Namely Cares is the opportunity not only to help our community, but also show them that they can act compassionately towards each other too.”
Company values give a stronger meaning to both the work that you do and the community you inhabit. As these winners demonstrate, employees identify with their company’s values and use them to inspire a better work every day.
Congratulations to all the winners and an honorable mention to all the Namely employees who live our company values every day!
Think you know your history? Over the last 150 years, the emergence of new technologies, business philosophies, and political movements have all played a part in shaping the HR profession as we know it today.
In Namely’s newest ebook, The History of HR, we dive into the full scope of that evolution. Below, we’ve included a sampling of the key moments in history that ultimately changed HR forever. Consider this your course syllabus.
1. The First HR Conference (1904)
Nearly a century before SHRM’s annual conference sold out exposition halls across the country, there was the Conference on Welfare Work. In 1904, the National Civic Federation invited business owners and personnel departments from across the country to the opulent Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The purpose? To exchange strategies on how to boost employee morale and wellbeing.
By this point, personnel management (called human resources today) was barely three years old. But in that short time, its thought leaders had created a variety of enticing perks to both attract and retain workers. Attendees, who hailed from all industries, shared “engagement hacks” like hosting Sunday picnics, screening silent movies at noon, and even providing employees with an on-site bar. And yes, there was ping pong as well.
Pictured: One company at the 1904 conference shared that it had built a bowling alley and game room for employees.
2. Passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (1938)
Most of the employee protections we take for granted today didn’t exist before the mid-1930s. Child labor was legal, the minimum wage didn’t exist, and there were few workplace safety rules to speak of. If you were lucky enough to be employed during the Great Depression, your workweek was likely 50 or more hours long.
After a series of department store strikes across the country, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the most important labor law in U.S. history: the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA set limits on working age, capped the workweek to 44 hours, and created a minimum wage of 25 cents an hour. It also created a new form of compensation: overtime pay.
Almost overnight, HR teams had to shift focus. It wasn’t enough for companies to say they were compensating employees fairly—they needed to prove it. In 1940, even in wartime, the DOL conducted over 6,400 inspections and awarded workers over $5 million in back pay. Ever since the FLSA was passed, compliance has been an HR priority.
3. The HR Information System Arrives (1980s)
The first HR information system (HRIS) dates back to the 1970s, but it was prohibitively expensive, unintuitive, and physically cumbersome. Because all data had to be stored on location, offices sometimes had to dedicate entire rooms for the necessary hardware. For most companies, “going digital” was cost prohibitive and not so attractive of an alternative to using paper files.
By the early 1980s, personal computers had started to enter the workplace in growing numbers. This created the perfect conditions for the HRIS as we know it today. For the first time, employee and payroll data could be electronically stored in one place and easily referenced at a moment’s notice. From their office computer or a designated kiosk, employees could even access their own records without asking for help. These developments freed up hours of HR’s time, empowering them to focus on more strategic and forward-looking tasks.
In the 1970s, personnel data was sometimes stored on physical, on-premises mainframes.
4. “People” Departments Emerge (2000s)
By the turn of the century, HR teams were dealing with an image crisis. With developments in computing and the eventual arrival of the internet, businesses had new opportunities to improve their bottom lines by automating tasks or transitioning roles overseas. That meant layoffs, and lots of them. In 1987 alone, an estimated 3.5 million U.S. workers lost their jobs. HR, tasked with giving employees the bad news themselves, were characterized as workplace “angels of death.”
The time was ripe for a rebrand. While the origin of the first “people” department remains unknown, what’s clear is that Silicon Valley led the charge. In the 2010s, Google and Facebook made headlines for their workplace cultures, unique perks, and novel take on the century-old HR profession. Suddenly, people operations had entered the corporate lexicon.
Need proof? Look no further than LinkedIn for a sampling of some of the HR job titles popular today. One industry report found that HR teams sometimes even used titles like Chief Happiness Officer, Head of Optimistic People, and People Guru. While it takes more than a rebrand to signal intent, the new verbiage represents a step in a new direction for the profession.
There’s no shortage of articles and opinions about the future of HR. But to get where you’re going, you need to know where you came from—and in HR’s case, that story is a surprisingly rich one, full of plot twists, memorable characters, and valuable lessons. Before making your own history, get the full story by reading our ebook, The History of HR.