Listening To Employees: The Ultimate Leader Burnout Prevention Move

by Dec 1, 2020Inspiring Stories

When’s the last time you visited a company’s website, and found “we work hard, we play hard, together”? This motto is the heart of Shipware, a company led by competitive, driven, and all around fun guy Rob Martinez, founder and CEO. His site features photos of his staff participating in contests together, serving the community, and dressing up in costumes. By the time you leave the site, you’ll want to work there too.

But it’s not just the site; it’s the company culture. Martinez has worked hard and intentionally to build a culture in which his employees are not only heard, but real and specific changes are made as a result of employee feedback. The people’s first culture is enhancing business success, not subtracting from it. The company, which helps people save money on their shipping needs by decreasing costs, will finish 2020 with a staggering growth of 56%, even during the pandemic. Here’s what Martinez is doing to make sure his people are well-taken care of, leading to increased retention and higher profits.


When the pandemic hit, Martinez was faced with a tough decision: go without a paycheck for months and reduce staff pay by 10 percent, or lay off long time and loyal employees. He did what he does best, and gave the choice back to his team. “No resistance!  Although no employee is ever content to earn 90% of what they’re used to earning, every team member accepted the news with grace,” he said. “Given the nightly news at the time showed millions of Americans were being laid off every week, I believe they were simply grateful to have a job.  They trusted leadership behind the wheel.”


Building the right team starts with recruiting, and Maritinez uses Predictive Index assessments (PI) to ensure he’s matching the right personalities and experiences to his mission when he hires people. “PI has a lot to do with our success,” he said. “We focus on hiring right, not only making sure we have the right person to hop on the Shipware bus, but that we understand their behavioral needs and drives to ensure we find the right seat for them on the bus.” He’s done over 2500 PI surveys for a company of 50, which aligns with Itivate’s foundational success strategy (link later) of using PI to build the right team.


What would happen if you asked your employees what they would change if they were CEO for the day? Martinez does, on the regular, along with other revealing, thought-provoking, and introspective questions to ensure workplace satisfaction and to make changes as needed. Here’s an example of some feedback he recently received:

Measuring job satisfaction has remedied a corporate culture where, just four or five years ago, people were burning out because, Rob explains, “we didn’t make the investment in hiring the right folks, and [practicing]daily intentionality in living out our values.”


Martinez is still working 70-80 hours a week, but at a job he loves where he doesn’t fear burnout. “When I’m not trying to be the greatest Ship Warrior in Chief, I’m trying to be the best dad I can,” he said. He considers himself extremely competitive, as does his partner who, at the time of the interview was busy running an Ironman in Florida. His staff thrives on the competitive atmosphere, focusing on the teamwork and comradry rather than competition against each other. “There’s a vibe,” he jokes. “We are big o team events and fun competitive things. We have trophies for winners and losers. We do online Jeopardy, online rooms where people have to figure out where in the world they are, etc.”

This comradery has been especially significant as employees work from home through the pandemic, and Martinez has worked to maintain that connection through morning and evening daily Zoom huddles, among other things.


In 2021, as Martinez looks towards a new year of goals, he looks to Michael Jordan’s influence, who said he was great because he failed so many times. “A lot of organiations says they do this but they don’t,” he said. He isn’t joking about high-fiving mistakes, and valuing an “environment of vulnerability” that comes from appreciating failure.

Written by Jessica Walther, CEO of Itivate



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