How Novo Supports a Tight-Knit Global Employee Community

Novo is an award-winning small business banking platform on a mission to empower its customers with their financial data and provide the most compelling banking experience possible. To accomplish this mission, Novo built a global team of brilliant minds that spans four continents.

Despite the distance that separates them, there’s a deep sense of community and connectedness among members of the Novo team.

We met up with Novo’s People Operations Manager, Melissa Toribio, and Internal Communications Manager, Natalie Fernandez, to learn how Novo manages to maintain that sense of close connection while keeping its talented workforce informed and engaged.

Building a Tight-Knit Global Community

As a fast-growing organization, the Novo team is always moving forward, but it’s not just that environment that draws talented people to the team.

“I love that everyone’s so excited to be here and open to trying new things,” Fernandez mentioned. “It creates such a positive atmosphere day-to-day.”

Toribio agreed, and added a unique aspect of her work that keeps her engaged. “Something I enjoy the most is that we can share multiple ideologies around culture. I appreciate getting to work as both a stakeholder and solution seeker to support that.”

To connect everyone in its global workforce with key resources while fostering its unique and evolving culture, Novo needed a new way to bring everything together. That’s when they decided to roll out Haystack.

“We’ve started to use it for newsletters, all-hands updates, product updates, and recordings,” Toribio said. “On a larger scale, it made the process of sharing concise and consistent information a lot easier—especially because we use numerous platforms for different processes.”

Fernandez echoed her, emphasizing the value of a central hub for everyone to rely on.

“Having a global workforce with so many different time zones, it has been very helpful to have a place like Haystack where people know that anywhere, anytime, they can go there to get the information they need—and it will always be there.”

I love that everyone’s so excited to be here and open to trying new things.

Sharing Reliable Resources

Like most organizations, Novo has a great deal of institutional knowledge and policy information that members of the team need easy and reliable access to.

While it’s easy enough to drop documents into a shared drive, as Fernandez pointed out, that can quickly lead to confusion. Using Novo’s return to office policy as an example, she explained, “we could put those documents and resources in Slack, but as guidance changes, those documents remain in a state of flux. It’s important that we deliver information that’s pertinent and accurate.”

To ensure everyone has access to accurate information—especially when it relates to important matters like safety, the team uses Haystack as a reliable source of truth:

“The newest version, the one you need is always on Haystack.

That eliminates the issue of people having to search around in places like Slack or email, and then potentially finding outdated information. You can always trust that the version in Haystack is the most current, and up-to-date.”

Achieving Organizational Goals

In organization, cross-departmental communication is vital; for fast-moving teams like Novo’s, it’s essential. Rolling out Haystack was part of an overarching strategy to streamline knowledge sharing and collaboration between departments, and across the team as a whole, as Toribio described:

“Prior to Haystack, the process of sharing information for much of the team was to use whatever was available, like Jira or Confluence, and bend it to work for us, even if it’s not a perfect fit.

Most of our people ops content didn’t live on either of those systems. That content lived on Google Drive. So, really there were about three ‘sources of truth’ where people would need to go to find information. That makes things more difficult, and adds a lot of layers to finding what you’re searching for.

My goal was to make Haystack the one true source of information, and transition that strategy across our global teams. We’re still working on defining all the ways we’ll use it.

One of the features I appreciate the most is the freshness level associated with resources. As an admin, having the ability to update documents, and for employees to be able to look at something like our referral program and know it’s 100% fresh and accurate is super useful.”

Opening a One-Stop Shop

Novo is bringing small business banking into the modern age with easy-to-use tools for businesses on the go. That comprehensive set of tools helps streamline the customer experience.

That same spirit of streamlining and simplifying work translates directly into the Novo employee experience as well. So, while the team is dedicated to making sure policy documents and other information is easily available to every employee at all times, that’s just scratching the surface. Fernandez explained how that works in practice:

“Novo is not a bank; we’re the tech behind the bank. We offer a one-stop shop for all our customers.

I look at Haystack as a one-stop shop for our employees.

Employees have access to everything they need right there, and it’s simple to use. It’s easy to navigate, the search is robust, and they can always trust that whatever document or policy you find will be the latest, freshest version.

As an admin, editing and updating documents is just as easy and intuitive.”

I look at Haystack as a one-stop shop for our employees.

Communicating Confidently

In many organizations, there’s a tension between transparency and security. The more information employees have access to, the more informed they are about their work and how it fits into the big picture. For the Novo team, being able to share important company communications internally with the confidence that they will remain internal is paramount.

“We were working to find good ways to share company OKRs, which of course, is strictly internal information,” Fernandez shared.

“We produced videos to communicate the different OKRs and the process of how we arrived at them. Two of the easier options, Vimeo and YouTube, didn’t have the sort of privacy that Haystack allows us with the Google Drive integration. You can mark something as ‘unlisted’ in YouTube or similarly with Vimeo, but then anyone with the link can still see it.

At the end of the day, Haystack was an obvious choice.

We know that we can put information like a video of our co-founders talking about OKRs, all-hands updates, policies—all of those things—in Haystack, and it’s safe there.

Sharing private company information isn’t always even intentional, so this helps us keep the security a little tighter and avoid simple mistakes.”

At the end of the day, Haystack was an obvious choice.

Setting Helpful Guidelines

Toribio and Fernandes work closely together to create an atmosphere empowering colleagues across the organization to build their own unique spaces and produce helpful content, while ensuring it’s accessible for everyone.

“We’re still working together as an internal comms and people team to establish processes, and it’s becoming easier and easier. We want everyone to have the autonomy to create content that is authentic to them, rather than giving people strict, formalized rules to follow.”

Supporting a Communication Ecosystem

Instead of pushing employees across the team to use a specific system, the Novo team opted to integrate the specialized tools they already know and rely on.

“The fact that Haystack can integrate with so many things is huge,” Fernandez said. “Having those integrations compliments our comms strategy.”

“For example, a big chunk of our workforce uses Confluence. Giving people the option to use the tools they love, but then bringing it all together in a place where everyone still has easy access to the information, no matter what tools they prefer, has been huge for our comms strategy.

As we continue to roll that out and iterate, having the option to have so many things integrate makes it easier on everyone as a whole.”

Growing Together

As members of a rapidly growing startup, the Novo team values flexibility and quick iteration. Within that exciting atmosphere of growth and change, it’s important to have a set of tools that match, as Toribio explained:

“Novo is still a young company, and things can change frequently. Being able to adapt, create policies and documentation and processes, and have that live in one space helps a lot.

We’re working for a startup, and everyone’s excited and motivated about new things. Anytime Haystack gets a new update or feature, learning how we can implement that with our needs.

As we grow and need more, Haystack grows and builds more, and we get to bounce things off one another and think ‘how can we best use this at Novo?’ All the new updates end up working out really well for us."

Since I started, the progress has been shocking. The amount of [product] updates has been more than I ever imagined.

Tips & Advice

As leaders of a successful and active global employee community, Fernandez and Toribio shared a few helpful pieces of parting advice.

  • Setting the intent ahead of time, as to what purpose the resources will serve is key.
  • Earning buy-in from stakeholders whose impact aligns with that intent is essential.
  • Create a preliminary project plan or visual roadmap for how you want to layer the system.
  • Learn from the success of other teams.

“Missy and I talk about the roadmap a lot,” Fernandez added. “We look at where we are currently, and what we want things to look like in the future state. We even met up with some Haystack admins from other organizations to learn and borrow from their experience.”

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