“Why does every damn place—even old-school corporate offices—have to be fun and full of foosball?”
That was the subheading of a recent article published on Wired about work culture.
The article, written by Arielle Pardes, 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, ping pong tables, 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.”
“The Good Old Days” Argument Is Ridiculous
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 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 as the people that claimed computers would wipe out everyone’s jobs when they were first introduced to the workplace.
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 newer-style culture at companies like Google and other Silicon Valley behemoths actually works because the foundational culture and leadership is established and all-in.
Managers all throughout the country often read how a great workplace culture will boost productivity, and then 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 every outsider or potential new hire 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 in the future, like when your house collapses.
The Solution = Self-Realization
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. And until managers are able to have those tough conversations about what’s truly stifling the workplace internally, they’ll continue to just tread water and lose employees in the long run.
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 cultural 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.