Deepa Venkatraman

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nilenso policies: by the people, for the people

Inspired by a recent(ish)* Basecamp article on the benefits they offer their employees; we decided to evaluate our own to see how we stack up. Not too badly, as it turns out. We’ve also (mostly) used their format. I hope they won’t mind, given what they say about imitation and flattery.

Nilenso Benefits

Salaries: We are currently based out of Bangalore, India and it’s always a terrible idea to evaluate anything here on the basis of “averages”. We do, however, try to pay competitively but also never forget that just money is simply not enough.

Transparent finances: We pride ourselves on being a completely open company, in every way. Everyone at nilenso collectively decides which projects we take on, and what our expenses for the year should be. We go out of our way to make sure everyone in the company understands how much money we’re making and how we’re spending it. Our books of accounts and finances are available for anyone within the company to take a look, at any time. If something’s confusing, just ask.

Open reviews: Our review meetings that happen twice a year are completely open too, to anyone who wants to attend them. Everyone can read the reviews written by everyone else, and they’re all open to questioning.

Read more about our review / salary structure here.

Insurance: Medical care is expensive, so all our employees and their family — parents, children and spouses are covered by a comprehensive insurance policy (this means cashless, all ailments covered, pre-existing conditions included, no bureaucracy policy), where nilenso pays 100% of the premium.

Education allowance: While we don’t have a formal limit on what you can spend on education, employees are free to use the company credit card to buy books — technical or otherwise as well as pay for courses online or offline. We even have an English tutor who comes in every week to help our Operations staff improve their language skills. One of them is now giving his board examinations, after being out of school for more than a decade.
We also try to host educational events at the office — from Haskell lessons to technical talks (if you haven’t been to XTC — eXtreme Tuesday’s Club, ask us for an invite). We want you to attend conferences, whether that’s around the block or halfway around the world. Since we’ve been up and running, we’ve attended a ton of conferences: Euroclojure, Clojure/West, Clojure/conj, RubyConf San Diego, RubyConf India, React Conf SF, StrangeLoop, GCRC, Fifth Elephant, JSFoo, rootconf, pgconf, 50p — and that’s not an exhaustive list.

100% coverage on hardware / software: Whatever hardware, software, or services you need to do your job are always 100% on us. No red tape, no questions asked.

Ergonomic Furniture: If you’re not comfortable in the office, we’re not happy. If your desk is too high, or the lighting in your room is too bright, let us know, and we’ll do something about it.

Expense Account: Everyone who works at nilenso has access to our debit and credit cards to pay for any work-related expenses — software, hardware, travel, office supplies, books. If you’ve paid for something from your own pocket, that’s fine too! Just send us a photo of the receipt and we’ll reimburse it promptly (we have an app called kulu that keeps track of all of this). When you’re traveling abroad, we get you a prepaid forex card, so you don’t have to pay for anything expensive yourself. Basically, everything goes, as long as you’re reasonable (nobody has been unreasonable so far).

Fully stocked healthy pantry: Our pantry is restocked daily with fresh fruits, yoga bars, and healthy alternatives to aerated soft drinks (just put whatever you’d like on the list we have put up, and it shall magically appear in the kitchen). We also make sure there’s fresh milk, bread and cereal, for the days when you miss breakfast.

Lunches: We get lunch in the office everyday and eat out once a week (admittedly, this could be somewhat healthier than it is now — we order in, based on what people like, but we’re working on it).

Menstruation Leave : nilenso offers paid menstrual leave for anyone who needs it, no questions asked.

Vacations and Paid Holidays: nilenso offers 29 days of paid vacation and a few national holidays. Obviously, this doesn’t include times when you’re very ill — and when you are, we’d like you to take as much time as you need to recuperate before getting back to work. None of this is strictly monitored, so we’re often asked what happens if people take advantage of our liberal vacation policy. For the record, we don’t know, because it hasn’t happened.

Maternity and Paternity Leave: At nilenso, both parents are offered 6 months paid and a further 6 months unpaid leave around the time that they welcome a newborn.

Work: Being a technology company, we’re really passionate about deep tech, but also about education, healthcare, maps, renewable energy and a host of other subjects. The first couple of years of our journey at nilenso were spent trying to establish ourselves as a firm that could be counted on to deliver on technically challenging projects. Having done that, we’re now fortuitously positioned to use technology to solve real world problems. While this isn’t technically a benefit, we actively try to find projects that align with your interests, even if it comes at a cost.

Working weeks: We’re a small company, so people often end up doing way more than they would in other, larger firms — recruiting, sales calls, ordering lunch, talking to lawyers, taking Haskell lessons. We encourage 40-hour working weeks, and let our clients know what to expect as well.

Working remotely: Many ensonians often work from home (some more often than others). Some time last year, Tim even worked from a beachside getaway in Kerala for a couple of weeks. If there’s any way we can support you while you’re away, we do it. We use Slack / email as much as possible so you’re connected to everything going on at work. Alternatively, if you need a data dongle because there’s no WiFi where you’re going, pick one up from the office. None of our employees are fully remote, so we’re not there yet, but we’re definitely on our way.

It’s never easy to pen down what a company does for its employees, because it’s so difficult to separate that from what it does for itself. In our case though, there’s no need for separation: as a co-op, the company *is* its employees, and everyone who works here owns her just as much as the next person.

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*Okay, I admit it, I wrote this post in January 2016 and then sat on it for a year.