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What Makes Us Want To Work?

With so much conversation about the gig economy and moonlighting, does a career mean what it once did? While the steps to build a career may be different than they were twenty or thirty years ago – get a job, stick with it, and turn it into a career by default – I would argue that taking a career-minded approach to work, no matter what form it takes, still has value. Some find solace in longevity and consistency, while others prefer to hop from position to position. Careers can be built on a number of different jobs at a number of different companies. It’s truly becoming more of a choose-your-own-adventure approach. Once you’re working with a company, what keeps you there?

Perk Paradise – Don’t Believe the Hype

In Silicon Valley, where iconic employer brands surround us, it’s said that a person is only a lunch break away from the next offer or two. A lot of media attention focuses on companies offering the latest “perks” and many of the candidates I speak with are coming from something akin to “perk paradise.” But, perks rarely come up from potential hires during the interview and onboarding process. If a candidate is persuaded by massage chairs and laundry service then they’re probably looking for the wrong reasons. In fact, we released a study last year, called Work in Progress, that outed technology as the new “hot perk,” ranking higher than access to food and beverages, slick office design, or on-site amenities.

Besides access to technology, what does come up consistently – and ultimately makes or breaks an employee experience – is the company culture, with an engaged employee base at its core.  It’s the potential for career development, a culture that rewards critical thinking, and office comeradery that nurtures a community where people want to work. What’s more, is the belief and common understanding that the organization is doing something big and all employees feel that they are a critical part of that trajectory.

In brief, I think the biggest perk is setting up employees to make an impact – in an environment that provides a culture of learning – with access to self-sevice technology, great leadership and the ability to grow.

Operational Excellence Can Make or Break a Billion Dollar Business

Operational excellence is probably one of the most mundane topics, but it might just be the most important way to keep employees motivated, engaged and focused on the prize. We work in an exciting tech industry with “billion dollar ideas” but it all comes down to – Is your company well-run? If an organization is well-run, there is little room for distraction. Sometimes it’s as simple as:

  • Do meetings start with an agenda and end with actions or do meetings just bring people together to nod at each other and do it again the next day?
  • Are budgets transparent and utilized towards a common and agreed upon goal, or is it a black box?
  • Are employees and managers having effective 1:1s, like Adobe’s recently open-sourced Check-in process?
  • Is there a rhythm to quarterly or yearly deliverables, or are objectives and tactics in a constant state of chaos?

Even in today’s everchanging and always-on digital workplace, the term well-oiled machine still stands up. The companies and cultures that demonstrate operational excellence will differentiate themselves from the pack and ultimately provide a platform for future workers to make their mark.

Your Future Workforce is in Grade School – What Will Matter Most to Them?

On Thursday, Feb 9th, I’ll be joined by luminaries representing government, data science, transportation and employee motivation at Think Tank by Adobe, part of the NewCo Bay Area Festival. With much of tomorrow’s workforce just learning how to read, write and count, we will explore what will drive employee engagement and motivation to work – five, ten or twenty years down the road. We’ll explore questions like:

  • What is the perk of the future? Will employees incentives move beyond free food and dry cleaning and how can companies plan for that?
  • How will companies differentiate themselves from one another down the road– especially when there are so many iconic brands competing for talent?
  • What’s more important – the people or the idea? Will the next generation view, “follow your passion,” as the golden rule?
  • Will the biggest management dilemma today be the same as 10-20 years down the road? How will we cultivate new management who anticipate the needs of their future teams?
  • What will be the signs or trademarks of a high performing workplace culture be in 2030? Conversely, what cultural norms are at risk of extinction?

We’ll be discussing and debating all this and more on Thursday. Join the livestream, and be a part of the conversation!