WorldBlu - Freedom at Work

WorldBlu Awards


The WorldBlu List of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces™ 2015 is comprised of organizations from a diversity of industries including technology, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and services, with a combined annual revenue of nearly $15 billion. These organizations include public, private, non-profit, and educational institutions. They range in size from five to 61,000 employees and are located across the US, Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Denmark, Malaysia, Haiti, Romania, Australia and New Zealand.

An organization makes it onto the WorldBlu List through a rigorous Freedom at Work™ assessment process completed by employees. The assessment evaluates the overall design of an organization along a fear-based to freedom-centered continuum in three core areas: leadership, individual performance and systems and processes. Assessment questions are based on the WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy. Those organizations scoring 3.5 or higher on a zero to five scale become WorldBlu certified.

  • Wb Aiesec
    AIESEC International

    Rotterdam, Netherlands
    Industry: Leadership  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: The AIESEC International 2014-2015 Team

    Located in over 124 countries with more than 100,000 members, AIESEC is the world's largest youth-run organization providing a platform for youth leadership development.

    The ability to have a voice in my workplace is incredibly important to me. When I know that my ideas are not only heard but encouraged, I know that my role goes beyond my job description and is about my contribution to the organization as a free-thinking young leader. I see evidence every day that working in a freedom-centred workplace is a catalyst for creativity and together with my colleagues we collaborate to find better solutions than any of us individually could give. Working here, I have learnt honesty, openness and trust and together this makes for a workplace full of creative, supportive and fun people.
    - Karolina Piotrowska, VP Public Relations

  • Wb Boost New Media

    Wellington, New Zealand
    Industry: Media  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    Boost designs websites, web applications and CD-ROMS for a variety of clients including ACC, the Families Commission, and Telecom.

    Freedom-Centered Leadership fits really well with the overall ethos and values we hold at Boost. We want to foster an environment where leadership is a task rather than a role assigned to a specific person. Becoming a Freedom-Centered Leader has given me the tools and techniques I need to enable my team to self manage and to find their own solutions. It's about decentralization rather than being flat. It's about leadership rather than management. It's about creating meaningful work rather than attempting to motivate staff with cosmetic perks and rewards. It's still about profits, but it's also about people. It's about the staff having ongoing participation, through a variety of democratic processes and mechanisms, in the things that matter in our organization. It's not just about voting, nor is it always about reaching consensus, but it is about allowing people to self-govern.
    - Nathan Donaldson, CEO


    Boost practice the principle of Integrity through "Retrospectives" which take place every two weeks for every project undertaken. Each employee is encouraged and supported to speak with courage and integrity during the Retrospective meetings so that everyone can genuinely improve throughout the course of the project. Each time the team starts a project they are reminded of the Retrospective's prime directive: ‘That regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand’. This enables participants to be both honest and constructive and express themselves with full integrity throughout the process.

  • Wb CROS
    CROS - The Alternative University

    Bucharest, Romania
    Industry: Education  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2014, 2015

    The mission of CROS: The Alternative University, is to change Romanian education through autonomy and collaboration. This means that each student self-directs their own education and develops communities of practice based on common values and passions.

    CROS: The Alternative University, practices the principle of Decentralization through equally sharing all the power, responsibilities and benefits across the team. All their full-time employees and part-time student representatives make decisions based on consensus. In 2015 they will be scaling this decision-making model so that all students will be involved in decisions that directly affect their education and the direction of the organization.

  • Wb Davita

    Denver, CO
    Industry: Healthcare  Type: Public
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: DaVita - Our Story Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita - Voices of Experience
    Kent Thiry on Freedom at Work at DaVita Kent Thiry, CEO of DaVita - Voices of Experience

    DaVita is a nearly $13 billion Fortune 400® healthcare company with over 61,000 employees.

    Working in a freedom-centered, democratic workplace means the opinions of our teammates matter. That democratic process creates buy-in, trust and transparency, which has direct impact on our work environment and the culture we call ‘The DaVita Way’. When teammates have a vested interest in fulfilling our commitment to being a community first and a company second – we know we have something really special.
    - Nancy Walters, Community Enrichment Manager

  • Wb Davita
    Delivering Happiness

    Las Vegas, NV
    Industry: Professional Services  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2013, 2015
    Video: What is Delivering Happiness?
    Video: Random acts of Happiness

    Delivering Happiness provide services to help organizations prioritize happiness in the workplace.

    To me, working in a freedom-centered, democratic workplace allows me to thrive. Being able to design my role and exercise my unique work style makes me feel both entrusted and empowered. My performance is higher because my dedication is unlimited. I can give freely without worrying about counting hours. I don’t feel like a robot, chained to my desk with a micro-manager breathing down my neck. This sense of autonomy activates me to be a better teammate, community leader, and overall happier human.
    - Kelsey Wong, Client + Community Captain

  • Wb Dreamhost

    Los Angeles, CA
    Industry: Internet  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: A Day at DreamHost

    DreamHost is a leading web hosting and cloud services provider with over 300,000 customers and 1.2 million domain names hosted worldwide.

    Working in a freedom-centered, democratic workplace is a breath of fresh air! Over the years I have been a slave to micromanaging supervisors, stressing over perfect time clock punches, and subjected to unfair schedule and workplace practices. DreamHost sounded way too good to be true and I was waiting for the honeymoon to be over. Several years later and I'm still a happy camper! Freedom at Work™ used to be an unfamiliar concept as I have never had that before. It's refreshing to see honest and open conversations regarding all aspects of the company and all the cards on the table whether good or bad.
    - Jamie Muller, Customer Experience

    Reflection & Evaluation

    One of the ways DreamHost practice the principle of Reflection + Evaluation is through a program called "What Color are Your Balls." In order to gage happiness, a container of red, yellow and green balls sit at each doorway in the office. If team members have a great day, they put a green ball into a voting canister. If they have a bad day, they are asked to place a red ball in the voting canister, and explain why. At the end of the day, the number of balls in each canister is recorded and tracked over time to see how it impacts the workplace. The comments are also shared with leadership.

  • Geonetric

    Cedar Rapids, IA
    Industry: Internet  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2014, 2015
    Videos: How Geonetric Refocused Their Core Values

    Geonetric helps healthcare organizations develop web strategies that engage consumers. VitalSite®, Geonetric’s content management software, is the foundation of websites, portals and intranets for more than 500 hospitals, physician groups and clinics around the USA.

    Over the last year Geonetric spent a great deal of time working on the principle of Purpose + Vision through refocusing their core values. Employees were asked to write a value and short description on a card and post it on a newly-created Core Values wall. For two weeks, each employee could add as many or as few as they wanted, and in the end, employees contributed nearly 50 cards. From there, they grouped the cards based on similar ideas, and came up with twelve high-level themes. Those themes then were put into a survey tool, where employees were asked to rank them. The results were crystal clear. Through direct employee input, Geonetric now has five core values with another seven supporting values.

  • Wb Great Harvest
    Great Harvest Franchising

    Dillon, MT
    Industry: Food Products  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    Great Harvest Bread Franchising has over 230 "freedom franchise" retail stores across the US.

    Great Harvest is made up of smart, capable individuals whose ideas, creativity and ability to collaborate for the greater good are crucial to our long--term success. We're into our third decade in business and truly believe the democratic principles we follow have kept Great Harvest relevant and agile. 
    - Mike Ferretti, CEO

  • Hagie Manufacturing Company
    Hagie Manufacturing Company

    Clarion, IA
    Industry: Household Goods & Home Construction  Type: For Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2014, 2015

    Hagie Manufacturing Company provides innovative crop protection solutions for the agriculture industry.

    The inimitable Hagie experience is all about our people. Waking up to a sense of purpose every day, each team member is empowered to contribute to innovating any aspect of the company that they can touch or influence, while living by the guiding principles of building a legendary team, never screwing the customer and building kick-ass products. Where no exceptions are made for comfort zones and high growth zones are endorsed, this distinctive third generation, family owned company is fanatical about playing a significant role in growing our people to their fullest potential and changing their professional and personal lives for the better.
    - Alan Hagie, CEO

  • Wb Haiti Partners
    Haiti Partners

    Port au Prince, Haiti
    Industry: Education and Community  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: Education, Democracy and Development

    Haiti Partners is a non-profit organization building schools and training thousands of teachers, leaders and students in the principles of democracy, social enterprise and education.

    Dialogue & Listening

    Haiti Partners practice the principle of Dialogue + Listening through a process called ‘Circles of Change’ which is a 6-month, 2-hour per week seminar, that helps leaders and co-workers develop skills in dialogue, listening and invitational and collaborative leadership. For example, often during group discussions, some participants might have something to say, but are afraid to speak up. Through the ‘Circles of Change’ training, individuals are taught to recognize these situations, and graciously create an opening by saying something like, “I sense you’re wanting to say something” creating an opening for someone who might be too shy to express him or her self. These practices create a culture of listening and of valuing all voices. All of the Haiti Partners staff been trained in the Circles of Change process and some have gone on to lead training for other groups, such as USAID and Habitat for Humanity.

  • Iowa City Area Development Group
    Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD Group)

    Iowa City, IA
    Industry: Community Development  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2014, 2015

    ICAD Group works to enhance the quality of communities by serving the workforce development and economic development needs of interstate commerce companies in Iowa's Creative Corridor.

    The very idea of a leader being the one with all the decision-making, who calls all the shots and tends to outdated rules is antithetical to where I see the need to succeed in our global economy. To me, a leader is one who seeks to empower a team of individuals to achieve and surpass their potential. Freedom arrives when we learn to trust and support each other and let go of the need to control. By fostering communication and not being afraid to innovate we can find new ways to achieve our mission and support our clients. 
    – Mark Nolte, Group President

  • Wb Learn

    Laval, Canada
    Industry: Education  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    LEARN is a non-profit foundation providing educational technology, learning materials and e-learning materials to the Quebec English education community.

    LEARN practice the principle of Dialogue + Listening by regularly holding sessions where everyone is invited to put forward their thoughts and feelings regarding various issues related to the organization’s strategic goals. For example employees organized a day using an informal café-type setting where people were asked to provide their comments relating to questions they were given. After twenty minutes, everyone was asked to move to another table and join with a different group of people and continue the conversation. Cross-pollination was the objective. At the end of the day when ideas had been grouped together the general consensus that when information is shared along with varying points of view, everyone benefits and feels engaged.

  • Wb Menlo
    Menlo Innovations

    Ann Arbor, MI
    Industry: Software  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: Speaking Up at Menlo Innovations
    Video: Extreme Interviewing and Menlo's Social System
    Video: The Benefits of Our Workplace
    Video: Menlo's Special Walls
    Video: Rewards and Promotions
    Video: Pairing Programming at Menlo

    Menlo Innovations is a software development company with a vision to end human suffering as it relates to technology.


    Menlo operationalizes the principle of Accountability by using processes that promote teamwork and interdependence. Within the team, team members work in pairs; no one works alone and pairs stay focused on adding client value. In pairs, team members are also held accountable for their time by reporting their time spent on projects each week. Project managers balance timesheets each week to ensure each pair reports time consistently. Additionally, team members are accountable for personal improvement through feedback lunches. From a client perspective, team members are held accountable through a weekly process called ‘Show and Tell’ where the client is given a live demonstration of work that has been completed.

  • Wb Mindvalley

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Industry: Publishing  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: A Day in the Life of Mindvalley
    Video: The MindValley Team Retreat

    Mindvalley is an Internet incubator that shares its management and business practices freely through an online university.

    Purpose & Vision

    In the spirit of practicing the principle of Purpose + Vision, at MindValley company strategies, directions and innovations are regularly iterated and presented by the CEO at their weekly team meeting called the Awesomeness Report. Everyone celebrates the accomplishments of employees for the past week, be it to applaud individuals and teams, reinstate the purpose and vision or update everyone on targets. The report is designed around the spirit of fun, happiness and gratitude - it's the MindValley talk-show version of a town hall meeting which helps to keep everyone focused.

  • Wb Mindvalley

    Hermosillo, Mexico and San Jose, CA
    Industry: Software  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: Inside the Nearsoft Culture

    Nearsoft is a product software development service.

    Over the past year Nearsoft have deepened their understanding of the principle of Decentralization by refining their decision-making process. They proposed the concept of Leadership Teams (LT). An LT emerges whenever anybody in the organization sees a problem that needs to be solved. It can be anything from the brand of coffee available in the kitchen to more serious topics such as the annual bonus distribution method. Anyone can call for others to join in and work together on resolving the issue. Nearsoft also created a Decision Matrix which helps define how different kinds of decisions follow different paths towards implementation.
    For example, a group of people formed a LT to change the way year-end bonuses were distributed. Some felt that the usual process was not completely fair so they redefined how bonuses were handled and tested this approach with their peers. Although this new process did not work for everyone at first, after refining it further the new methodology was implemented.

  • Wb New Belgium
    New Belgium Brewing Company

    Fort Collins, CO
    Industry: Brewers  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: New Belgium Brewing Company | Alternatively Empowered
    Video: Fat Tire Ale – Want a Beer?

    New Belgium Brewing brews artisan beers and is known for their popular "Fat Tire" beer.

    At New Belgium, we knew early on that we wanted to share the rights and responsibilities of ownership with our co-workers. We initially created a phantom stock plan which has transitioned into a full, 100% employee-owned, ESOP. Part of being an owner here is understanding the business of running the business. To that end, we practice open book management and engage all co-workers in our annual strategic planning. We encourage open and honest communications throughout the organization. You can question, prod and disagree with decisions, which makes for a robust planning process. We feel transparency and inclusivity foster trust and engagement while allowing people to bring their true best selves [to work] every day.
    - Kim Jordan, CEO

  • Wb NRI Distribution
    NRI Distribution

    Kamloops, Canada
    Industry: Transportation Services  Type: For Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: Inside NRI
    Video: The CEO of NRI Distribution Talks About NRI in Kamloops

    NRI Distribution is a premium-branded warehousing and fulfilment company designed to serve the needs of the action sports, outdoor/lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories marketplace.

    Individual & Collective

    NRI practice the principle of Individual + Collective through their ‘Values Training & Stoked Recognition Program’. The NRI Values define how they make decisions. All their values are visually placed in their warehouse facilities and the organization regularly celebrate, teach and demonstrate the values by focusing on a value each month. During the month supervisors revisit what the value statements mean, some history around the values, stories and examples of how this value has been demonstrated in the past. The ‘Stoked’ recognition program reinforces team member’s understanding as anyone who demonstrates a behavior that aligns with the value of the month and goes above and beyond their normal job duties can be nominated for a ‘Stoke.’ Supervisors put approved ‘Stokes’ on a visible board in the warehouse facility. These are recorded and team members are able to redeem them for prizes.

  • Wb Podio

    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Industry: Software  Type: Public (acquired by Citrix in 2012)
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    Podio is the collaborative work platform that helps thousands of teams achieve more, together.

    Freedom at Work has always been pivotal to the growth of Podio. When you allow everyone in the organization to have a voice in decision-making, define the projects they work on and ultimately reach their potential, you have a more robust workplace and fulfilled employees. This has allowed Podio to recruit and retain top talent, drive innovation and has ultimately had a positive impact on our bottom-line. This has been key to our success.
    - Sharif Khalladi, Head of Marketing

  • Wb Pai
    Productivity Associates

    San Diego, CA
    Industry: Computer Associates  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: What Does Freedom in the Workplace Mean to You?
    Video: Productivity Associates Cultural Congress
    Video: What it means to be a democratic workplace at Productivity Associates

    Productivity Associates, Inc., (PAI) provides contact center outsourcing.

    PAI have put the principle of Transparency into operation through sharing some of their key performance metrics on their website. The company-wide Employee Satisfaction Score (EPS) and Net Promoter Score, which ranks their entire customer base, are displayed. These numbers are there for the entire world to see. Every employee in the company knows how and why these numbers are what they are. PAI are proud of their performance and are committed to sharing these numbers in real-time to the entire world.

  • Wb SAYS

    Sydney, Australia
    Industry: Leisure Goods  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2015
    Video: Life at RedBalloon
    Video: RedBalloon – It’s all about the Good times!

    RedBalloon is an experiential gifts retailer providing unique gifts such as hot air ballooning, spa days and even rally car driving to people across Australia and New Zealand.

    At RedBalloon people come to work as themselves and not as their job titles; as people, not staff. Our commitment to Freedom at Work™ is founded in our belief in transparency being essential to good business performance. We hold true to the ideal that once you are a ‘RedBallooner’, trust is implied, it does not have to be earned. We empower our people to make decisions in their roles, knowing there is trust from the business in those decisions, and knowing they are allowed to make mistakes – as long as the learn from them. We exercise freedom in the flexibility we provide for all our people – they are provided with the tools needed to fulfill their roles, which means we have happy people, leading to happy customers, and ultimately resulting in happy profits. Our commitment to freedom is fuel for our bottom line growth.
    - Nick Baker, CEO

  • Wb Sweetriot

    New York, NY
    Industry: Food Products  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

    sweetriot is a social enterprise producing chocolate-covered cacao nibs and bars.

    Sweetriot practice the principle of Fairness + Dignity through their ‘Thumbprint Committee’ which was instituted in order to take care of everyone in the organization. People are encouraged to approach the Thumbprint Committee to express their ideas on issues related to healthcare, vacations and other policies. It was created for the sweetriot rioters (employees), by the sweetriot rioters. The name “thumbprint” is used because the words such as People or HR were felt to be too common and corporate. Thumbprints are unique identifiers of the world and every sweetriot thumbprint (employee) is truly unique. In fact, a thumbprint is featured in sweetriot’s logo as well.

  • Wb Linkschool
    The Link School

    Buena Vista, Co
    Industry: Education  Type: Not for Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: The Link School
    Video: Questions and Answers With The Link School Director

    The Link School is a private, experiential high school.

    The student body at The Link School have learned how to put the principle of Dialogue + Listening into practice through individual and group interactions. The student government is broken into small groups to discuss issues and then those groups come back together to meet as a whole. This allows students who wouldn’t speak up in the larger group a chance to share their ideas. Students are also learning to work on how to compromise. Students can share their idea once, and then if it’s challenged they can’t share the same idea again without changing it so that it speaks to what others need.

  • Wb Projekt
    Ubiquity Retirement + Savings (formerly The Online 401(k)

    San Francisco, CA
    Industry: Investment Services  Type: For Profit
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: The Online 401(k) Culture
    Video: Ubiquity Retirement + Savings

    Ubiquity Retirement + Savings (formerly The Online 401(k)) bring affordable, web-based retirement plans to small and growing businesses.


    Ubiquity Retirement + Savings practice the principle of Choice through their annual “Meet Your Future” event which is a way for team members to exercise choice and have control over their future. “Meet Your Future” is an internal career fair. Team champions set up tables showcasing their team’s purpose, who is on the team and what they do to impact the business. It’s a casual way of discovering other teams and talent for future growth. Teams do not own talent, rather talent is free to move to another team when there is an opportunity and fit.


    Ubiquity practice the principle of Decentralization through having a higher purpose, not a hierarchy. The company is in a constant state of evolution. This is achieved by their "Innovation Rovers" which is an individual or a group of people who are passionate about solving a particular problem. If they see a problem or an opportunity, they have the power to create something new or evolve a policy, process or program. They also have the power to solve and implement solutions.

  • Wb Wd40
    WD-40 Company

    San Diego, CA
    Industry: Non-durable Household Products  Type: Public
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: The WD-40 Tribe
    Video: Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 on Helping People Win at Work

    The WD-40 Company is the publicly-traded maker of the WD-40 lubricant, with over $330 million in annual sales.

    I have been working at WD-40 for more than 15 years. What I enjoy most about working here is that our leaders want to hear from us – the good and the bad news. By listening to its tribe members, WD-40 Company is able to improve and foster employee understanding of the decisions made for the business, the practices and processes that affect their lives. For me, this is the essence that truly defines a freedom-centered workplace.
    - Marcus Chen, Regional Director Asia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Wb Wd40

    Madison, WI
    Industry: Software + Computer Services  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2015
    Video: About Widen
    Video: Widen Hackathon Days

    Widen is a marketing technology company who assist organizations in managing their digital assets.


    Widen have operationalized the principle of Transparency by providing regular formats for knowledge and idea sharing through Fireside Chats, Lunch + Learns, new product idea presentations, Hackathons and Sprint Presentations. For example, the organization regularly holds fireside chats that include a variety of topics from customer satisfaction to changes to organizational structures, celebrating their failures and hearing from motivational speakers. Team members experiment with new technologies and share their updates at Lunch + Learn sessions while product managers and developers give Sprint Presentations as a way to share project results. These formats ensure that ideas flow freely, knowledge is share and learning is constant.

  • Wb Zappos

    Las Vegas, NV
    Industry: Retail  Type: Private
    Years on the WorldBlu List: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
    Video: Zappos Company Culture
    Video: Zappos Family Music Video

    About: is the #1 seller of shoes online by emphasizing customer service, with over $1 billion in annual sales.

    Fairness & Dignity

    When it comes to promoting equality, Zappos practices the principle of Fairness + Dignity through all of their programs and policies without regard for hierarchy. In their benefits program, all employees, regardless of role, receive the same benefits. Compensation bonuses are given at the same percentage for all employees and there are no "perks" provided to any group of people. "All for one and one for all" really personifies how Zappos treat employees and management.

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