Have you seen the new HBO show Silicon Valley? It’s a show about a group of software engineers that try to make it big in Silicon Valley. It pokes fun at the big tech companies, the Googles and start-ups that make their home in Silicon Valley. Don’t forget the billionaires and eccentric types that build and comprise these companies. The “Google” in the show is called Hooli; a huge sprawling campus with cool lobby, lounge, etc all the fix in’s for the employees. They put on rock shows for its people, have cool electric cars on campus, etc etc. The culture is alive and vibrant, cool and fun, and the pay is good. Everyone wants to work here. Big tech companies seem to be setting the trend for workplace culture. They have the funds to support a culture that is fun and productive so they’re pushing the boundaries when it comes to setting the precedent for culture. But that does not exist or come to be from a vacuum. Workplace culture is hard to build, and maintain. And when this culture is stained, it’s hard to rebuild. “With billions at stake, much of that money is flowing into Big Data startups, including $900 million to Cloudera just this week. Flush with cash, these startups are hiring like crazy. The perks are good, but they’re not much different from what companies in other hot areas offer.” In the article “What It’s Like Working At A Red-Hot Big Data Startup” big money big tech companies are compared from the perspective of the talent, i.e. employee reviews via Glassdoor. Here are some quotes that will give you an idea of what people actually value in a workplace. It’s not soda machines or an employee lounge or company functions. They’re intangibles that really give people a sense of value within a community.
“generous, good people that work hard, expect much but are also kind,” as well as “passionate, curious, and very smart” people who go above and beyond their call of duty to help you.”
“best talent [they’ve] ever worked with”
“cowboy” culture that forces you to “view co-workers as competition rather than teammates.”
The company’s management is lauded for its “open door policy,” which means employees are “able to converse with C-levels and VP’s without intimidation.”
So there is a balance here. To maintain a certain positive culture, is to reinforce some values that drive the core of a company. The balance is necessary, though, because if there isn’t an organic growth of values from within, and it’s begun to be enforced from above, a vibrant culture can start to become “cultish”. Silicon Valley pokes fun at the huge tech companies that provide all the best perks you can imagine having at work, but the satire is in the fact that all the emphasis on culture can, ironically, have a negative impact. Too much of a good thing is inevitably a bad thing. So don’t let it go full-circle but really consider the value of good workplace culture. What does that mean for your company? What values will you support in your workplace? ‘Cause ultimately this is what will carry through to your employees and make your company the “Google” that everyone wants to work at.