Sometimes when I read about the perks being offered at power-house technology companies like Google, Zynga, and Facebook I roll my eyes and wonder when the one-upping is going to end. Isn’t that a terrible reaction?! I mean, I’m supposed to love when companies dole out the perks, add to their culture, and show employees that they’re the center of it all but articles like this only highlight the costly and superficial perks and serve no purpose other than making the rest of the world feel like they’re never going to live up to the new standard in Company Culture.
The kicker for me is that I know people who work for these companies where the food is free and the money rains down from the sky and guess what, they aren’t always happy, passionate, or engaged in what they’re doing. They don’t necessarily feel motivated to do their best everyday and they are just as likely to be disengaged by bad management practices as the rest of us are.
How come these articles never talk about engagement levels, management practices, leadership training, or coaching programs that have been established in these fancy technology companies?
Maybe because when it comes down to the fundamental ways organizations can create alignment and engagement these giants aren’t as far ahead as they’d like us to think they are.
If you’re trying to build a great place to work and become frustrated because you’ll never be able to hire a five star chef, pay for dog grooming, or offer free massages don’t be so hard on yourself. None of these things are what create great places to work, they’re simply perks slapped on top.
Here are some of the first items I review during a Culture Audit. If you’re looking to make changes to your culture (for free) start here:
- How strong is your brand internally? Has Leadership clearly verbalized the mission, value, and purpose of the company? Is it written down and repeated often?
- Do you have core values? If you do, are they for real or are they just a bunch of words slapped in an employee handbook?
- To what extent do your managers and leaders live up to the expectations that leadership has set in the bullets above?
- If I ask every single employee the question “What is X (name of your company)?” will they all answer the same way? More importantly, how will that answer align with the first bullet?
Building a great place to work is about creating alignment within your organization so that the message and passion from leadership trickles down to every employee in the organization. And that, my friend, can be done for free.
Marisa is a Culture Coach for small and quickly growing organizations trying to establish the infrastructure required to create a company full of passionate, motivated, and engaged employees. She has held culture and engagement roles for two nationally recognized great places to work, founded the research and networking group Culture Fanatics, and is an industry recognized blogger. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband and twin boys and is looking forward to the day she can bike across the country to raise money for MS research. @marisakeegan.