How to Optimize Hiring & Create a Culture of Shared Values With Gusto Co-Founder & CEO Josh Reeves (Pod 565) | SaaStr

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To celebrate 10 years of SaaStr, we’re revisiting some classic podcast episodes. Up today: a 2016 interview with Harry Stebbings and Gusto Co-Founder and CEO Josh Reeves. At the time of this interview, Gusto had 350 employees serving 40,000 customers. Today, it’s grown to more than 2,000 employees serving over 200,000 businesses.

Many SaaS companies talk about creating a strong culture and smooth hiring process, but how can they actually live up to it?

Joshua Reeves, Co-Founder & Head of Gusto, appeared on the SaaStr podcast six years ago to share his thoughts about business growth, creating solid company values, and optimizing the hiring process. Since then, Gusto’s growth has exploded –– as of its most recent funding round in 2021, Gusto raised $175 million in Series E, and now ahead of its IPO, they are valued at $9.5 billion. 

Read on for timeless tips on building a team that works toward a common mission and growth goal.

Develop Your Core Values First

No person is perfect, so every company will inevitably make mistakes or encounter obstacles as they build their internal organization. But what helps is relying on a north star –– your core values as a business. Those should never waver. 

The Gusto founders spent time early on creating the framework and value system that would carry them through their rapid growth. Once they had those philosophical pillars in place, it was time to start growing their team.

When asked whether core exec churn was a given, Reeves disagreed, emphasizing that the ideal would be for all their employees to grow and develop over time to continue adding value to the organization. Gusto chooses to provide as many resources as possible to help every employee achieve their best development: “I don’t think there is any formula, but I think organizations should have a point-of-view. For us, we wanted to enable people to grow as much as possible. We want to give them those tools and resources.”

However, there comes a time when additional expertise is needed to keep serving your customers the best way you can. When your current team needs more perspective, consider hiring more team members that are as passionate as you are about your core values. 

The Hiring Process

The “when” of hiring is critical to your success. Often, SaaS companies get swept up in mass hiring when their business starts taking off, but hiring too aggressively might actually cause more harm than good. As Reeves says, “More people equals more work getting done. It doesn’t always equal better work getting done.”

To know when it’s the right time, think through every potential role, and ask why. Is this role filling an urgent need? Is it going to do more of what’s already working? Or is it just piling more people into the organization?

Ultimately, every new hire must have a meaningful impact on the business. Otherwise, the company can get too bloated and slow down decision-making. 

Once you are ready to hire, you need to understand what the process is really about. “An interview is about finding alignment with someone,” says Reeves. Gusto views alignment in three different buckets:

  1. Shared Values. 
  2. Aligned Motivations.
  3. Relevant Skillset.


Many companies focus only on the skillset portion, but that is not enough to ensure you’ve made the best hire for your organization. “Every company should spend the time and figure out what they stand for, what they’re authentic to, what they’re opinionated around, then have that be a guide to how they hire.”

All three alignment components ensure that all your employees are passionate about the problem you’re solving for your customers so that you can deliver the best product and service possible. 

Key Takeaways

  • Develop a robust core value system for your business and make that your guiding star.
  • Support your employees’ professional development, and understand that everyone will need room to grow as your business does.
  • Don’t focus on skillset alone in hiring. Also consider shared values and aligned motivations. 

Published on June 18, 2022

Go to Publisher: SaaStr
Author: Amanda Beaty