Wired recently released an article titled, “Silicon Valley Ruined Work Culture,” with the subheading leading in to it stating, “Why does every damn place—even old-school corporate offices—have to be fun and full of foosball?”

Now let’s break this one down.

The article, written by Arielle Pardes, details her version of “Corporate America in 2020.” It goes over all of the culture hacks that you see in news cycles, and several of the ones that we here at The Jellison Group have discussed before as well—nap pods, unlimited vacation, and remote work, to name a few. The author ends with a longing for the “good old days” of the 1950s work culture, when people “actually [got] work done.”

Wow. Where to start?

Culture within the workplace is a complex issue, and one that can’t be fixed with one simple perk or policy integration. But to long for the work culture of 70 years ago seems like an inability, and or a downright refusal to even try to accommodate the younger generation of workers—the same younger generation that will eventually take your job, and may even eventually be your boss.

Saying that the ever-expanding company culture shifts, thanks in major part to Silicon Valley, “ruined work culture” is the same (to me) as the people that claimed computers would wipe out everyone’s jobs when they were first introduced. And guess what? Humans still have jobs.  

I understand that people in general are scared of change, and when changes occur, many long for the “good old days” and say what was once great is now ruined. But here’s the kicker: what if what you think “was once great,” actually wasn’t?

The “new” culture at companies like Google and other Silicon Valley behemoths actually work because the foundational culture and leadership is established and all-in. 

And then other companies throughout the country read how getting every other Friday off boosts productivity, and they come to terms with two things: 1. They know that they have a culture problem, and 2. They want to fix it, but aren’t sure how.

So what do they do? They add unlimited vacation to the employee benefits. They put out free snacks in the break room. They put ping pong tables in the hallways. Easy fix right?

Here’s the thing: having ping pong tables for your employees to play doesn’t equate to a great culture. Telling everyone who walks in your doors that you have a great culture doesn’t mean you actually have one. Think of it this way: throwing a new roof and siding on your house may mask the fact that you have foundation issues from an outsider’s point of view, but you’re still going to run into problems, like when your house collapses.

What companies need to do is have the self-realization of where their problems lie when it comes to their workforce and how they all integrate within the organization. Once diagnosed, they then need to fix the culture from the ground up.

These “culture hacks” like unlimited vacation are meant to enhance an already great culture—not mask the inefficiencies of a horrible one. As the old saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. There is no quick fix for an overall company culture deficiency.

If your business is struggling with culture issues and you’re not sure where to start, contact The Jellison Group today about a company Culture Audit. We will help you identify, diagnose, and fix the issues within your organization, and help get your company to a level where when an employee says they love to come to work, he/she actually means it.


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