No Rules: Faithlife Threw Out the Employee Handbook

At Faithlife Corporation, the leading producer of digital Bible study tools, we’ve taken a unique approach to corporate culture: no rules. We operate without an HR department, offer unlimited vacations, provide a free bike and kayak center, and offer flexible schedules and unlimited free soda and espresso. Oh, and we also do employee-run curry cook-offs, company-wide Easter egg hunts, and hot soup on the first day of snow.

Faithlife interns leave the company saying it was “the best summer of their lives,” developers come from all over the country to help write our code, and employees are regularly nominated for “awesomeness” awards to recognize, well, awesome work.

Faithlife’s unconventional approach led employees to score us one of Glassdoor’s top 10 small to medium-sized companies to work for in the country.

“Our company mission is simple: ‘To serve the church,’” said Bob Pritchett, Faithlife president and CEO. “This mission has taken us from just a few developers in a basement to over 450 employees in the last 20 years. I couldn’t be more grateful for our team, and I love being part of it.”

Instead of rules and regulations, Faithlife, located just north of Seattle, operates on open communication and good faith. And although this culture may seem unconventional, we’ve improved every year.

“We view employment as a relationship,” Pritchett said. “As long as we deliver value for each other, we don’t need books of rules for our relationship. At Faithlife, we put people first and value wisdom over policy.”

We value “HOAGIES”

Our corporate values are abbreviated “HOAGIES”:

  • Honesty
  • Openness
  • Awesomeness
  • Growth
  • Initiative
  • Elegance
  • Shipping

Honesty is exhibited when we admit our mistakes. A little over a year ago, a technical glitch caused dozens of web products to drop down to $0, costing us $40,000 in products. In response, Pritchett posted “The $40,000 Mistake” on our blog, telling customers that, yes, we messed up, but no, they don’t have to return any of their free products. “We made a mistake,” Pritchett wrote. “We own it, we learn from it, and we welcome the chance to show our employees and our customers that we mean what we say about our values.”

Openness can be seen in the regular “Ask Anything” sessions, where employees can ask questions of the CEO and get answers in front of the entire company. Interns are always encouraged to take Pritchett out for coffee, and online forums connect employees with Faithlife customers—keeping an open line of communication between the company and our users.

Awesomeness is seen every day: from our talented design team that creates beautiful Bible-verse art to our content-innovation team that’s creating scholarly content not found anywhere else to our stellar customer-service team that works late into the night to make sure our customers’ needs are met.

Growth is seen through our unique “Read for Cash” program. Every June, employees are encouraged to read books to help us grow in our field: from marketing to leadership to business resources, we get paid for each page we read. According to Pritchett, Faithlife’s continuing-education program can be summed up in one word: read.

Faithlife Logo 2 512x512

Initiative is seen when we take ownership of new roles and projects. Consider Jacob Carpenter: he was hired straight out of high school with no real coding experience and no college education. He taught himself to code and learned best practices by volunteering to create a website for Faithlife’s Ultimate Frisbee team. Over a decade later, this self-taught coder is now a lead software developer and teaches AP Computer Science at a local high school. “You often hear stories about people who say they have to move on to other companies to advance their career,” Carpenter said. “I’m really glad that hasn’t been my experience at Faithlife, because I love working here.”

Elegance is everything you need and nothing more. At Faithlife, we create elegant software and study tools that solve real problems for real people. Some of the biggest Bible study obstacles are lack of time and resources—our products save people hours of research time and allow them to take the smartest theological library with them wherever they go. We provide elegant Bible study solutions for people all over the world.

Shipping is how we keep corporate bureaucracy in check. Instead of multitiered approval processes, we focus on getting products out the door. This value has significantly increased production—we were on a three-year cycle for new software, but cut that by an entire year, releasing our latest software, Logos 6, just two years after Logos 5 launched. “We ship so we can live to ship again,” Pritchett said. “If you want to stay ahead in the tech industry, you have to be quick.”

Faithlife is a fun, challenging, and innovative company, and we’re so grateful to be named one of Glassdoor’s top 10 small to medium-sized companies to work for. If you’re interested in a position at Faithlife, check out our current job openings and intern opportunities.