Don’t hate me for saying this out loud, but it’s true. If you thought getting a job in a place that claims to have a great work culture would make your life sorted, think twice.
The ‘cool work culture’ phrase, I personally think, was coined by Google. We’ve all seen the videos of their fancy-ass office that encourages their employees to sleep in nap pods, play ping pong whenever they need a break, and hog on candy when those sweet cravings strike them. They’ve created a culture where they allow their employees to be free and unpressurised so that their productivity and happiness levels increase. Many companies, especially start-ups, have tried to replicate this ideology but failed to get the results they want. Here’s where they go wrong.
Having a cool work culture is a mousetrap. The employees are the mice, the cheese is the fun environment their company promises, and the trap is the company itself. Companies provide these little moments of joy to their employees so that they get instant gratification, which compensates for their shitty job. What companies fail to do though, is to understand their employees better, and help them grow as individuals and workers. While providing a fancy office with 24/7 entertainment provides immediate pleasure to employees, it does not necessarily guarantee long-term satisfaction.
When I went through Netflix’s culture deck recently, I understood the difference between a good work culture and a bad one. Their culture deck elaborately states what they expect of their employees, and how they will be treated in return for their work. It is the one that decides whether you stay or leave. We all know that Netflix has a great workspace that allows their employees to grow into better human beings. What they also have is a great workspace that gives their employees the opportunity to sit back & relax. They have openly stated that their culture isn’t for everybody; only for people who are willing to accept the challenges with the value that Netflix brings to the table.
What most companies can learn from Netflix is that providing employees with frequent parties, once in a blue moon outing, access to TVs, etc. do not push employees to become better. They will either start taking it for granted or get bored of it eventually. Instead, if best practices were followed to empower employees and bring them to be part of the vision of the company, their productivity increases many folds. Some of the best practices that any company can take into consideration are hiring a diverse group of people from different backgrounds to promote inclusivity and sharing of knowledge, hiring people who’re not only in for the monetary returns, following a ‘people over process’ ideology, focus on performance-driven activities, and creating a fun yet productive environment for every single person in the company, including the janitor.
Do you see the difference? When employees are treated like people who have the potential to break barriers instead of just paid employees, they’re productivity levels and contribute to the overall goals of the company exceeds tremendously. So yes, there is no such thing as a cool work culture unless employee growth is coupled with access to leisure activities. Both should complement each other.