Work culture matters. Not news, right? But work culture really matters in tech. Changes in the industry are reflecting that. Now we don’t just have HR Managers, we have Chief Happiness Officers and Chief of Staff and People and Culture Managers.
There are ample articles out there talking about how Silicon Valley ruined work culture for everyone and, especially in light of recent news of tech giants making layoffs, there’s understandably a lot of negative chat. But today, let’s take a second to talk about tech companies that are leading the way for great work culture and how the industry is showing up for its employees in 2023.
A Bit of Context
Between the pandemic, global unrest, economic crises, talent shortages and a shift in values brought on by the next generation of workers, conversations surrounding employee wellbeing, benefits and work culture have taken the world by storm. And rightly so. Something had to give and the past few years of discussion and demand, I believe, have been a result of that. Competitive employee benefit packages help attract top talent, boost employee satisfaction and increase retention rates for tech companies. These factors have been increasingly important as the industry has found itself facing “The Great Resignation” and a huge talent shortage.
Fostering a Culture of Creativity and Innovation
All employers have everything to gain when it comes to ensuring a positive work culture for their employees. They have everything to lose by neglecting it. This could not be truer for those in the tech industry. A tech company has nothing if it doesn’t have creativity, passion and dedication from its employees. How can innovation happen without it? How can technological boundaries be pushed if your people are drained, bored and disillusioned?
Tech companies know this. At least the best ones do. They understand that ground-breaking tech is made by people who are nurtured to reach their full potential and given the optimum environment and conditions to innovate.
This has to come from the top down. As a CTO, I always strive to be the “dumbest person in the room.” This benefits me and my employees on multiple levels: it frees me up to lead and support, it allows for a culture of learning and growing, it creates the necessary space for employees to flourish and it promotes diversity of thought, experience and technical skill. The list goes on. Rather than being knee deep in tech—even if this is my comfort zone—I can provide my team with the resources and support they need to excel in their respective areas while using my experience to create a team that values collaboration, innovation and excellence.
A great work culture benefits everyone—as well as the bottom line. Happy people have more space to think and create, more creative thought leads to more exciting tech, more exciting tech means more success for the business. It is the job of tech leaders to ensure we’re building the best environment possible for this to take place.
Putting it Into Practice
I’ve seen some great examples of tech companies supporting employees —Adobe’s Global Wellbeing Program, Monzo offering £1,000 annual learning budget and Buffer publishing its salary formula. Companies like us here at Walr run an employee shadow options scheme and have worked towards being named a Great Place to Work. The best tech companies are investing in their employees—beyond a cool office with a foosball table. The best tech companies are implementing changes that allow their employees to thrive.
And they’re making astounding tech because of it.
Look at what OpenAI has achieved with ChatGPT. It offers employees top-of-the-line healthcare, 401(k) matching and unlimited sick and paid time off as well as benefits like a learning and development budget, fertility treatment coverage and various parental support services.
We’re in a new era of employee wellness. The focus is shifting and the tech industry has a chance to make a positive impact. We have a real role to play in how workplace culture is considered in the future. The industry employs some of the smartest people in the world and with the right environment, leadership and support, amazing things can be achieved.