Everybody wants to be like Google. Hailed for their company culture that draws thousands of applicants and lands them countless cover stories on popular publications. But what if we told you that Google’s retention rate was actually lower than the national average? Google’s employees stay an average about 1 year before leaving the company. Despite having thousands of qualified talent applications, Google struggles to retain their top talent every year.
How does this happen? How can you have all these great articles highlighting Google’s work environment and thousands of applicants, but have a lower than average retention rate? The answer lies in Google’s Company Culture. Perks like free coffee, child care, nap pods, a slide, and catered meals are wonderful but are nothing more than “free stuff” if you don’t have a company culture that embraces the perks.
What do we mean by “embrace the perks?” Here’s an example: A company installs a pool table in their break room. The executives install it so employees will have a place to go to relieve stress and take a mental break from work tasks. They hope this will boost morale and productivity – specifically with their sales team. But whenever a member of the sales team goes to use the pool table, their direct manager makes a sarcastic comment about working hard or hardly working. Eventually, employees stop using the pool table. Instead of this pool table boosting morale, it is having a negative effect on employees’ relationship with their manager. Employees feel like they are being watched and timed when they go to play pool, instead of being trusted to take a break and still get the job done.
Now a different company installs the same pool table in their office. Instead of managers making comments or monitoring pool table use, they occasionally join employees in playing pool. The CEO and CFO are commonly seen using it as well and the organization organizes a tournament. Employees feel trusted by their manager to use the pool table as they need it to take a break. This also makes employees feel valued because the organization shows understanding of the demands of their job and maintaining stress in the workplace.
Company culture is about embracing the perks. Allowing your employees to use them freely, as they see fit, to support their daily work efforts. Silicon Valley (where Google headquarters are located – along with dozens of other tech giants) employees site “work life balance” as their number one priority when selecting a job. Why? The demands of employees in Silicon Valley are extreme. Many tech savvy professionals work for companies with 24/7 service offerings that yield millions in revenue each month. It’s easy to get swept away by the demands of your job. Employees crave organizations that allow them to truly have a life outside of their career.
This is where Google struggled. Google tried to bring life to the office. They thought that by bringing in perks from home, employees would feel more balanced in their career. However, it had the opposite effect. Employees felt like Google was trying to make their office their home – taking them further away from the personal life they were craving.
So how can you ensure that you adopt perks that work? By making sure you have a strong company culture to embrace them. Here are some quick tips for evaluating your current company culture and changes you can make to strengthen it:
1) Mission and Vision Statements
Do you have your mission and vision statements posted on the wall? In the company handbook? When SKYE meets with new clients, we often ask employees to tell us their organization’s mission and vision statements. Most employees will look for the poster on the wall or try to find the company handbook to answer and cannot tell us without these documents. Your mission statement should tell what your company actually does and your vision statement explains what you aspire to be. These two statements should be know and understood throughout all levels of the workforce.
2) Know Your Values
Do you have a set of shared organization values? Core values support the vision, mission and shape the culture. They are your company’s principles, beliefs, or philosophy of values. These shape how your organization should operate and dictates behaviors.
You may be wondering, “But how do I get my employees to relate the mission and vision statements and values to daily operations?” This started with your leaders. Your organization’s leaders are the front line of your organization. They are role models for employees. Ensuring your leadership team understands the mission, vision, and values and how they apply to their roles is essential for a strong company culture. If your leadership embodies the behaviors you want, your employees will too.
4) Remember What Happens Below The Surface
The mission and vision statement are simply how you say you will get things done. You core values shape how you should go about getting it done. Your day-to-day business operations will dictate your culture. This is why it is essential that your leadership team understands your organization’s values, mission, and vision. The majority of organizational culture exists “below the surface.”
This means that culture occurs in the activities that you don’t outline in an official document. Employee perceptions, unwritten rules, feelings, stories, meetings, etc. These shape your organizational culture.
5) Choose The Right Perks
It is easy in today’s business world to feel compelled to match, or beat, your competitor’s offerings to attract talent. But you have to select company perks that match your organizational culture. One of SKYE’s clients has a free book and movie exchange, pinball and air hockey game room, and catered lunch each day as their perks. They chose these perks strategically.
For example, catered lunch was chosen because the office is located further away from the center of town. Employees were spending extra time trying to get to a place that serves lunch than they were actually eating. By bringing lunch to the office, it gives employees a chance to actually take a break in the day. Lunch is served by donation. Employees “pay” what they can for lunch and the funds go towards local charities.
Perks can work in organizational culture if they are supported by leadership and aligned to your culture. Start by identifying your ideal organizational culture. Next, evaluate where your culture is today. Does it align to what you want it to be? Strengthening your current culture should be the first step before implementing any “perks.” The last piece is selecting the right perks for your organization. This should be done strategically and align to organizational values.
SKYE Business Solutions helps leaders discover their purpose: the driving force behind your organization’s ability to achieve. Purpose empowers leaders to recognize value; creating a culture of engagement, contribution, and trust. SKYE propels your leadership to the next level: pushing through the ordinary to unlock the full potential throughout all levels of your organization.