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Results from Our Recent Culture Survey

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Thank you to our board member Karolina Sarek for giving feedback on this post.

Fish Welfare Initiative has grown immensely over the past 3 years: From our humble beginnings of 2 people in a small London office, we now have a team of 19 full-time equivalent, and operations in India, China, and the Philippines.

As we grow from a small startup where everyone is friends, to a mid-sized organization where everyone may not even know each other, we believe more of an effort must be made to ensure a culture that aligns with our values—specifically, that we foster a culture that is intensely results-oriented, honest, collaborative, and kind.

To this end, we conduct regular anonymous internal culture surveys. And as part of our commitment to transparency, we’re publishing the highlights from our most recent survey below. We intend to continue doing this, regardless of the survey results.

The raw data from the survey may be accessed here.

General Satisfaction

Staff were asked “How satisfied are you overall working at FWI?”, with the following scoring:

  • A score of 1 represents “Extremely unsatisfied—will likely leave soon”

  • A score of 10 represents “Extremely satisfied—FWI is by far the best organization I can imagine working at”

Responses were anonymous. The mean response was 8.75. The full responses are listed below:

Trends on What Staff Like about Working at FWI

Staff* were asked in open-response form: “What are 3 things you like most about working at FWI?” The most common response codes, in order, were the following:

  1. The team/people

  2. Focus on impact/results

  3. Work flexibility

Below are a few representative responses to the above question:

Person A:

“1. Best people I ever worked with,

2. We do important & under-valued work,

3. We have lots of fun as a team.”

Person B:

“Work Culture, Great Team, Results driven attitude”

Person C:

“1. Kindness/ a compassionate team

2. Openness/friendliness of the team / lack of typical employer-employee relationship

3. Platform to be a positive force in the world”

*We expect the smaller sample size (n=12) in this survey, as compared to the general satisfaction survey (n=16), is due to fewer contractors having completed it.

Trends on What Staff Dislike about Working at FWI

Staff were asked: “What are 3 things you like least about working at FWI?” The most common responses, in order, were the following:

  1. Long hours/overworking

  2. Miscommunication (particularly there being miscommunications between the ground team and the management

  3. Intense work

Below are a few representative responses to the above question:

Person 1:

“We get overly focused on obtaining sometimes arbitrary goals, people are consistently overworked and [overworking is] tacitly rewarded, the teams can be disconnected from a common plan”

Person 2:

“1. At times too intense for comfort

2. Lack of benefits

3. The work is hard”

Person 3:

“Need to understand the on-ground situations better, Need to do a lot of research and deliberations before taking any decision, Lack of proper communication across the team leading to few confusions.”

How We are Addressing Long Hours/Overworking Issues

Overworking is detrimental to our work for two reasons:

  1. It’s bad for impact: Increased quantity of work often leads to a decrease in quality. In a project like ours where much more progress is driven by good ideas than by sheer brute force, sacrificing quality for quantity of work is short-sighted.

  2. It’s bad for our team: We, of course, care deeply about all of our team members and want them to be well-rested and fulfilled while at their job.

Given the nature of the issues we address, and given the intense drive that most of our team feels to do so, FWI is by its nature a fairly intense organization, and we believe that we expect more out of people than most. As we tell people in the interviewing process, for most roles FWI is generally not the place to work if you want a straightforward, always-ends-at-5:00 type of job.

A balance here must be struck. We are making the following efforts to strike it:

  1. When we set quarterly goals for next quarter, we are reminding the goal-setters to have realistic expectations about what people can achieve in 1 quarter.

  2. Our leadership team, particularly those who remote work from Europe or the US, have been reminded to be mindful about scheduling evening meetings with our India team.

  3. Everyone has been encouraged again to make working on weekends the exception, not the norm, and the leadership team is making a greater effort to emulate this themselves.

The above efforts probably won’t be sufficient to solve the problem, a problem which given the nature of our work may not even be fully solvable, but we hope they are a start. We will continue to think about how we can improve here.

Suggestions on how we can improve is, as always, very welcome! Feel free to message us or comment below.

Pay Satisfaction

Staff were asked about their satisfaction with pay. We received the following results, with the following scoring:

  • A score of 1 represents “Very unsatisfied—my pay may make me leave FWI”

  • A score of 5 represents “Very satisfied”

At the moment, FWI generally pays above market for our staff in India and the Philippines, and below market for our staff from Europe and the US (in large part because such staff members are early-career effective altruism type people). So far this has worked reasonably well, though not perfectly, and we do not feel like it has detrimentally impacted talent recruitment in the West. Admittedly, the majority of our current and upcoming hires are Indian so it hasn’t proven to be a major issue.

We believe it’s critical to our work to attract and retain the very best people, so we will continue to re-evaluate our pay policy to ensure that it is supporting this outcome.

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