How AllTrails forged its path to better engagement at scale
A conversation with:
When somebody gives really good positive feedback using Praise, it almost always sets off a chain reaction throughout the day. Once one person does it, there'll be five others who give shoutouts because it becomes top of mind again. That's definitely been a huge, delightful side effect of the feedback functionality.
Head of People
If you love the outdoors, you’ve probably heard of AllTrails. The company’s mobile app and website allow users to discover nearby trails for hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities — a service that has been in high demand ever since the pandemic pushed people to get outside and discover a love for nature.
This pandemic boom kicked off a period of significant growth for the AllTrails team. In 2019, the company had 30 employees. Today, it has over 150. Leading that growth from a people perspective is AllTrail’s Head of People Doreen Ghafari, who leads the company’s three-person HR team.
While Doreen helps oversee every aspect of the People function at AllTrails, she says one area her team has no trouble with is attracting passionate talent. “We don't have to sell Mother Nature; she sells herself,” explains Doreen. “Most of our applicants come to us after a period of self-reflection. They want to do something that's more aligned with their own personal values. They want to wake up every day and dedicate their time to something they love.”
AllTrails makes loving what you do easy. Its company mission is to kindle the spirit of adventure by connecting people to the outdoors. That spirit takes root in every one of the company’s people initiatives. “Quality of life is very important for us and our employees. A lot of our people ops programs are designed with that in mind. A big priority for our people team is making sure that we're treating everybody like a well-rounded human being with interests both at work and outside of work,” explains Doreen.
For example, the company celebrates “Trail Day” on the first Friday of every month and gives every employee the day off to find a nearby trail, unplug, and enjoy nature. The company’s values are even rooted in the outdoors. With values like “embrace change” and “stay down to earth,” AllTrails reminds employees that obstacles like fallen trees and sudden rain are what we make of them and to keep the love of the trail at the heart of everything they do.
As AllTrails grows, Doreen’s top priority is to continue to scale the spirit and culture of the company and help employees advance their careers. And as she realized the company’s makeshift HR Google Docs and spreadsheets weren’t cutting it, she began her search for an HR solution. She knew the new tool needed to be able to:
All paths led to Lattice. Not only did the Lattice platform meet all of Doreen’s criteria, but it also had a seamless user experience that made the decision a no-brainer. “I evaluated quite a few tools, but Lattice’s ease of use is what won me over,” explains Doreen. “It’s super self-explanatory, and I knew it would be a pretty low effort for our hiring managers to adopt. Their time is better spent on their function, not spent trying to learn a people ops tool.”
It was important for the AllTrails team to give and receive ongoing feedback to and from their peers. “I didn't like how employees would only give or receive feedback during the review cycle. I wanted our team to build their muscles around giving and receiving feedback continuously, so they're never surprised about any feedback come review time,” shares Doreen.
As a result, AllTrails quickly rolled out Lattice Feedback to give employees a way to share and collect helpful feedback in real-time. But even that wasn’t enough for Doreen and her team. After creating a culture of continuous feedback, they went a step further to build a culture of celebration using Lattice Praise. Employees could publicly share positive feedback and showcase their colleagues’ many accomplishments with the entire company via Lattice’s integration with Slack.
Next, Doreen knew the “sheer volume of docs floating around in the ether” wasn’t working for her managers’ and employees’ needs. While AllTrails has always been a remote-first business, they now have more fully remote employees than ever before, so it quickly became apparent that the company needed a new way to streamline 1:1 conversations and documentation so crucial items didn’t fall through the cracks.
Lattice Reviews, Feedback, and 1:1s became the “source of truth for all of things relationship management” that Doreen and the AllTrails team needed. Now, managers and employees can keep running logs of their meetings, create shared agendas, and reference past feedback to improve communication and help direct career development. To boost adoption even further, Doreen and her team organized a formal rollout of Lattice 1:1s by hosting trainings on how to use the tools and make the most out of these meetings.
Doreen and her team switched their onboarding and offboarding surveys over to Lattice, too, allowing them to conveniently store and analyze all of their engagement data and employee feedback together within the Lattice platform. Next up for the AllTrails team is enabling Engagement surveys allowing employees to share meaningful feedback with the company’s People team.
Since partnering with Lattice, AllTrails has routinely surpassed Lattice’s survey participation benchmarks. When we asked her to share the secret behind these exceptional results, Doreen modestly attributes the success to her employees. “I'd love to take credit for all of it, but I think it's just all cultural,” she reveals. “We've invested a lot of time in all of our recruiting efforts and made sure we're bringing in the right people who are going to get excited about these types of things. We're seeing it pay off.”
Employees have also driven the success of another Lattice feature: Praise. At AllTrails, celebrating big wins publicly is a major part of the company culture, so the introduction of Lattice Praise was met with a warm embrace. AllTrails employees can see anytime someone receives a shoutout on their Slack #Kudos channel, allowing the entire company to see and celebrate the achievement together. That public acknowledgment has become infectious, explains Doreen. “When somebody gives really good positive feedback using Praise, it almost always sets off a chain reaction throughout the day. Once one person does it, there'll be five others who give shoutouts because it becomes top of mind again. That's definitely been a huge, delightful side effect of the feedback functionality,” she says.
Because AllTrails makes a point to promote from within the organization, they have many first-time managers who require guidance in their new roles. While AllTrails has an extensive new-manager training program, Doreen says it’s Lattice that has been most impactful in helping them be better managers and leaders. “Before Lattice, we didn’t have a centralized place for people to have these ongoing performance and career conversations,” says Doreen. “Since we have a lot of new managers and folks that are distributed, that’s been the area where Lattice has helped us the most.”
But that’s only the beginning of how Doreen and her team are leveraging Lattice. This year, they’ve been hard at work preparing to launch Lattice Grow. Again, AllTrails loves to promote from talent within, so Doreen wanted to ensure every employee knows exactly what it takes to get to the next level of their career. They’ve built out numerous competency matrices and six career tracks to help employees understand their path to career advancement as the company continues to scale.
While AllTrails isn’t launching Grow until July, anticipation for the new feature is growing amongst the team. “Our employees have seen that it's possible to build a career here because they've seen their peers do it. There's been a lot of excitement around like, ‘This is the tool that I'm going to use to carve my path, manage my one-on-ones, and see our future career paths,’” shares Doreen. “People are genuinely excited to be and grow here; we just want to be incredibly transparent and honest about what the path looks like and show how we're all invested in helping you get there.”
Employee growth isn’t the only thing on Doreen’s mind. She has big ideas for how to continue leveraging Lattice and making AllTrails a great place to work and to have worked for. “We want people to leave here better than they came in,” she says. “We want them to leave not because they’re unhappy but because we’ve set them up to find an opportunity that's so much more in line with what they're trying to do in the future. We want everybody to look back on their experience at AllTrails as like one of the highlights of their careers.”