Crakmedia Case Study
Fueling growth through modern performance management at Crakmedia
A global leader in performance marketing, Crakmedia prides itself on pushing boundaries, not just in web development and traffic monetization but also in creating an employee-first culture.
Crakmedia has always had a knack for growth. Since its founding in 2006, the marketing firm has made its mark as an up-and-coming industry leader. Today it has grown into a passionate team of 200 employees located in offices in Quebec City and Montreal — and its digital ads are viewed over 1.5 billion times daily across 150 countries.
But Crakmedia’s success story isn’t just about growing numbers — it’s also about building an inclusive, growth-centric culture that makes its high performance possible.
By emphasizing alignment and goal setting, and leveraging employee-centric SaaS tools like Betterworks, Officevibe, and more, Crakmedia has created something remarkable: a vibrant company culture that more than tripled in size from 2018 to 2023.
Crakmedia at a glance
How does a company undergoing rapid expansion sustain a unique culture and high employee engagement over the years — especially in a global pandemic? For starters, at Crakmedia, culture isn’t just a buzzword — it’s a pillar.
Drawing inspiration from tech giants, the company boasts an office environment reminiscent of industry legends. Imagine walking into an office with pool tables, lounges, a video game console, and free snacks — even a vertical hydroponic garden. “Can we say it’s like Google? It is,” communications advisor François Tremblay assures us. “I would know,” he adds. (He once worked for the tech giant.)
“There aren’t many companies in Quebec City that do all the things that we do,” François observes. “We’re really unique.” He points especially to the company’s adaptability and flexibility — which have made Crakmedia a beacon of attraction for top talent.
Part one of this is Crakmedia’s proven approach to work organization — perhaps illustrated best in Crakmedia’s “Full House Wednesdays,” a day of intense teamwork, team-building, and brainstorming. Those on-site days often feature food from local caterers and special activities such as chair massages, free barber services, and even an on-site tattoo artist.
“People really like to come to the office,” François says, “but of course, we also try to be flexible and have fully equipped conference rooms that enable people to work from home.”
Part of the secret to flexibility is simply asking employees what they want. “Our HR team listens to people and is always looking to improve our benefits,” he explains.
Crakmedia’s commitment to creating a vibrant and enjoyable workspace is just one part of its strategy to create a superior employee value proposition. In addition to the incredible office perks above, the company offers comprehensive insurance plans and performance bonuses, a robust recognition plan, continuous learning and mentorship, and empathetic, well-trained managers who are equipped to bring out the best in their teams.
“If you put the right processes and systems in place and focus on people, they provide the foundation for growth. Our HR is really focused on employee satisfaction.”
COO of Crakmedia
Growing without growing pains
The Crakmedia office is an energetic place where employees not only want to work but to grow. For many companies, rapid growth can be a double-edged sword. But not here.
“Our growth has been comfortable,” explains Olivier Bouchard, COO of Crakmedia. “If you put the right processes and systems in place and focus on people, they provide the foundation for growth. Our HR is really focused on employee satisfaction.”
“The company uses Officevibe and other tools to focus on engagement,” he says. “We focus on resources and activities and employee experience, and we don’t really have any pains from growing.”
“From day one, Crakmedia also lays the foundation for personal growth. Learning is important,” Olivier says. “We want people to feel that they don’t have to leave Crakmedia to achieve their goals.”
With systematic onboarding processes aided by tools like the Betterworks Intelligent Performance Management platform, they ensure new hires are set for success. Emphasizing continuous learning and personal growth, Betterworks has been a cornerstone in supporting rapid growth, according to the team. From hiring to tracking progress, the solution has helped Crakmedia keep employees and managers rowing in the same direction.
“We have a very structured onboarding process,” François says, “which includes all sorts of training, online training, and in-person training. Betterworks is very useful for that because we can have those conversations there. And so it’s way easier.”
Olivier offers one example: “One way that Betterworks helps with growth is with the 30-, 60-, and 90-day plans that we build when we hire new people — whether managers, directors, or individual contributor roles. Betterworks is how we help track progress, and that, in many ways, has helped us to manage the rapid growth we have seen and keep people aligned.”
He also emphasizes the importance of goal setting, regular reviews, and follow-through in keeping a growth culture on track: “We don’t do things any differently from many other businesses when it comes to goals and reviews – but we actually DO it.”
Linking employee growth and organizational growth
Seeing growth as an advantage rather than as overhead, the company emphasizes employee development as a cornerstone of its employee value proposition. Ongoing learning, employee growth, and internal development are all part of this ethos. “We know this is key to our success,” Olivier says, “helping people grow and helping them to want to stay here.”
Here again, using Betterworks has helped the company achieve a fluid and flexible approach to setting goals. “It’s really nice,” François says, “because the goal with Betterworks is really to open the conversation with the employee. Every week and month, I have conversations with my manager. The focus is not just on big goals, but also on what projects I really want to do.”
“It’s really a tool to have a discussion with management and to follow what our colleagues are doing and flexibly change the objectives to make them more aligned with reality,” he adds.
According to Olivier, this is working as intended. “If you want to build a business to last,” he says, “you need to do the right things and build a foundation with goals. We’ve got something like 2,000 goals a quarter that are all aligned.”
OKRs and personal objectives are important, he says, to keep everyone on the same page with the rest of the organization. “That’s where Betterworks is critical for us — to have a system where we can get that alignment done and get it right,” Olivier explains. “When I set a top company objective as a COO, we make sure everybody has at least 2-3 key results or goals with an objective that aligns to it, to make sure it gets done. Everyone is working in the same direction.”
Creating the infrastructure to propel growth
Regular check-ins, SMART OKRs (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound), and an emphasis on agility reflect the company’s commitment to this alignment. This reflects the vision of the media company’s founders and leaders. CEO Nicolas Chrétien, also one of the co-founders of the Crakmedia network, has set a high standard around transparency and innovation. He also introduced the company’s “CrakAwards,” which emphasize and recognize employee alignment to the company’s core values: integrity, partnership, innovation, team spirit, and ambition.
When everyone’s objectives are clear, it creates a collaborative atmosphere where employees can better assist one another in achieving their goals. With Betterworks in the mix, transparency isn’t just an idea. It’s an operational ethos. As François notes: “It’s really important for us to show employees their impact on TCO and how every employee is important for the company to grow and be successful.”
Betterworks’ implementation at Crakmedia in 2016 has powered the company’s journey to more streamlined conversations, improved feedback loops, and easier goal modifications. “We have 100% adoption of the Betterworks tool,” Olivier notes. “Everyone from the receptionist up to me and my goals are aligned. Everybody — no exceptions.”
“Betterworks is used for OKRs and goals, where employees have new objectives every quarter,” François explains. Seamless integrations with tools like Slack and Jira have also helped Crakmedia put the tool into its flow of work operations — making it easier to use and further supporting goal tracking and completion.
Everyone can observe and adjust goals as needed in real-time. Goal transparency also gives leaders a window into what is going on and what has happened over the past quarters. “I can’t manage the organization without Betterworks,” agrees Olivier. “I really can’t.”
“Betterworks is our preferred platform,” François says.
Lengthening retention and shortening time to full productivity
Crakmedia’s philosophy around culture and alignment certainly proves out in the numbers. The company has seen an impressive increase in important KPIs since adopting tools like Betterworks.
- The voluntary turnover rate dropped from 34% in 2019 to 20% in 2021, 18% in 2022, and an impressive 15% in 2023.
- Engagement scores (as measured in Officevibe) soared to 8.2/10 in 2022 from 7.4/10 in 2019. The average for similar companies is 7.7/10.
- Crakmedia’s average time to hire new employees has been cut by more than half, to 22 days in 2022 versus 52 in 2019 (the average is about 30 days in the industry).
- The time it takes for a new hire to reach efficiency in several departments has also been cut up to half — from 6-12 months to 3-6 months. New hires are now often able to take over complex tasks within the first few weeks of employment.
François summed up the results more succinctly: “Our employees seem to be happier and to want to stay more. The growth has been exponential.”
A lesson in smart growth
Of course, Crakmedia’s journey is not just about numbers; it’s about redefining what it means to grow well — and creating a more symbiotic relationship between performance management and company culture that centers the employee experience.
This commitment to employees hasn’t gone unnoticed. The company clinched a spot in the ‘Best HR Practices’ category at the 2022 Fidéides Awards, and it was a finalist for Québec’s equally prestigious Mercuriades business awards in the ‘Training and Workforce Development’ category.
Crakmedia’s focus on employee-centered growth, combined with the power of modern tools like Betterworks, stands as a bright light for businesses worldwide. In the ever-evolving world of work, Crakmedia serves as a testament to what’s achievable when the right tools meet vision, drive, and passion.
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