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Our Latest Culture Survey Results

This post shares the results of our latest quarterly culture surveys conducted in October 2022 and January 2023. We publish the results of these surveys primarily as part of our commitment to being a transparent organization. Going forward we intend to continue publishing the results, regardless of how favorable they may be, on an annual basis.


You can access the original responses to the two quarterly surveys here and here. You can also read about our previous culture survey from June 2022. Note also that there is likely some positivity bias here, as our staff knows that the leadership will read them and publish the results.


Summary

Broadly, we believe the results from these surveys show that FWI has a strongly positive culture. Our staff particularly noted that FWI’s culture is impact-driven and transparent, and reported that the culture and the people were one of their favorite reasons for working at FWI.


There are however, still areas where our culture and working environment likely should be improved, including reducing overworking, improving the leadership’s team understanding of the ground realities, and creating a greater sense of connection to the mission. We address how we aim to improve on these issues below.


If you have suggestions for how we can do better, we encourage you to comment below or


What We Are Doing Well

Our team members note having been consistently happy with working with their fellow colleagues. There were several responses that highlighted FWI's fun, collaborative, and supportive working environment. Similarly, our focus on high impact and making a significant improvement to the lives of farmed fishes was seen as a strong positive.

All responses to the January survey question: “What are 3 things you like most about working at FWI?” People also noted areas for improvement in other questions as well. Note that 20 people completed this survey.

Here are some of the responses when our team was asked how they would describe FWI’s work culture:

"FWI is very much promising towards its goal. Our every work is for the fishes."
"Results oriented, honest and transparent organization where all team members swim for the same side. Democracy is rule where members feedback and insights drive culture decisions; kindness is clear in all members."
"fast-paced, unafraid, pragmatic, sensitive."
"Exciting, Full-filling and Stressful"
"The work culture is respectful, supportive and open. Approachability is high and there is a great sense of teamwork and a joint common mission."

Compared to our previous culture survey from June 2022, there was a decrease in concerns related to overworking and rushing. However, these issues were not completely eliminated, as described in detail in Areas for Improvement. We see this improvement as a sign of growth and will continue to better ourselves to be more supportive and understanding of our team.


Our team seemed generally happy with pay and the current feedback culture. There was also an overall appreciation of our transparency and an environment that encourages self-development and autonomy. Responses on this point included:

"We have a very transparent culture."
"Straight forward and transparent."
"Freedom to work and learn."

We will work toward consistently maintaining these strengths as FWI continues to grow in size and impact.


Areas For Improvement

One of the core parts of FWI’s culture is its emphasis on self-improvement: We are constantly thinking about ways we can get better and the culture survey helps us identify where we have most room to improve.

All responses to the January survey question: “What are 3 things you like least about working at FWI?” People also noted areas for improvement in other questions as well. 20 staff members completed this survey. Note that not everyone listed three items, and the highest number of responses for a category is 4.

The following are the main areas that have been highlighted in the two surveys as areas for improvement.


Note that some of our ways of addressing these problems are unlikely to fully solve them, at least to the extent where none of our staff ever note them as issues in future culture surveys. We think that is ok, largely because a) building new systems to address issues itself takes time and can cause other issues, and b) we think it makes sense for the resource-intensiveness of the solution to be proportional to the severity of the issue, and fortunately none of the issues below were reported as being too severe.


1. Long hours/overworking.

This has consistently been something that some of our staff have noted as an issue, and these surveys proved no exception (though better than normal, see above). 4 of 18 respondents in October noted this as one of the things they liked the least about working at FWI, while 4 of the 20 respondents in January said the same.


How we are addressing it:

We have reminded the team and particularly managers to be mindful of this issue, especially when setting goals. We realize that this probably won’t be adequate to solve the problem in all cases though, and to some extent we expect some long hours are an inevitable byproduct of having a fast-paced, goal-oriented, and strongly mission-driven culture.


2. Leadership does not understand ground realities enough.

Several people noted this, and it is another issue that often comes up. This is a particularly important issue to get right, as all of FWI’s impact is generated by our work on the ground with farmers.


How we are addressing it:

Some of the leadership team will be spending more time in the field going forwards. We are also going to begin inviting 1 rotating non-leadership staff to each monthly leadership mini-re-evaluation meeting.


3. Inadequate benefits.

40% of our staff noted in our January survey that better benefits would make their jobs more fulfilling.


How we are addressing it:

Our Managing Director for India is currently talking with a few of our India staff team to understand what increased benefits they would like, to then understand how valued these would be and whether they would make sense to add to the budget.


4. Responsibilities should be more clearly defined.

In both the October and the January surveys, this was one of top 3 things our staff noted that would make their jobs more fulfilling.


How we are addressing it:

We are reminding our managers to consider further defining their respective team’s responsibilities. We are also encouraging all of our team to speak with their manager if they would like more clearly defined roles.


5. Insufficient team social activities.

This was one of the top 3 things that our team in the October survey noted as something that would make their job more fulfilling, though relatively fewer people noted it as such in the January survey.


How we are addressing it:

We are planning quarterly semi-local weekend retreats, where we will spend one day on work-related and the following day on social activities. We are also considering hosting more (optional) social events in the evening.


6. Some respondents would like the ability to work more remotely.

Much of our work takes place in Andhra Pradesh, India, and depending on peoples’ roles we require that they live there for various amounts of the year.


How we are addressing it:

Unfortunately, we believe in-person work is a core requirement for us to achieve the sort of impact we intend to achieve and be the sort of organization we intend to be, so we are not going to change anything here. We will continue trying to clearly assess where people are needed in-person and where they aren’t, and informing them that they can work remotely where it makes sense.


Other Issues

Responses to the January survey. Note that 20 people completed this survey.

The following are the other issues mentioned that we believe are somewhat less important to tackle, but those we will still be working to address:

  • The team should feel more connected to the mission.

  • Our work is too siloed.

  • We have too much top-down decision-making.

We will be addressing these through a combination of changing the content we discuss in some of our regular meetings, ensuring our managers are mindful of these issues, and implementing a ground team shadowing program.


If you have suggestions for how we can improve on any of the above, feel free to comment below or contact us. Thanks for your interest in our organization!


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