The local Best Place to Work event was held recently, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the companies that everyone see as attractive to work for. For example, Google is often discussed as a company with a great culture. In many of the “top ten best practices for business” articles, you’ll find a mention of Google and other similar companies. Everyone seems to adore the scooters, free lunches, and other perks that come with being an employee of these types of organizations.

But do you know what most of those “best place to work” lists don’t mention?

Work.

best place to workSomehow, despite all the amazing products and services that come out of Google, people seem to forget that there is a lot of work and effort represented in those tools. People actually sit down, think up solutions, write code, have meetings, etc. They work.

That’s one thing I sometimes find interesting. When people talk about wanting to work at XYZ company, they say that from examining the culture, benefits, etc. There’s never a clear insight into the actual taskings, action items, etc.

Creating a great place to work

I ran across a great article a while back where the person being interviewed (he works at one of those “best place to work” establishments, by the way) threw out this answer (emphasis mine).

What advice do you have for peers as they seek to fill the skills gap and foster job growth at their organizations?

In terms of filling the skills gap, it’s about creating a workplace where special people want to show up and do great work. The only way to win the talent war we are currently in is to start with great people to begin with. This means you have to have a culture where people want to show up and volunteer their best. After that, it’s about taking the time to really invest in people so that we can close whatever gaps are present. We need to hire people who have the capability and then invest in that capability so that they can follow through and deliver. Source

Notice he didn’t say “create a culture where people have fun and play table tennis all day.” He wants a workplace culture where employees want to show up and work their tails off to serve customers, accomplish goals, and meet deadlines.

Sometimes I wonder if we should be higher on those “best place to work” lists, but then I think about this side topic and realize that no matter what, we try to create a place where people actually like coming to the office. It’s worked well for us so far, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

What are your thoughts? 

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  • 4 thoughts on “Best Place to Work? You Still Have to Do the Work

    1. I love this. Companies have to take care of their people, but in return, those employees need to WORK. No amount of bribery (pool tables, free lunches) will convince mediocre employees to excel; you need to find the people who are already passionate about what you do and then give them a reason to stay.

    2. I think that creating a fun culture is a trend.. I think that just like any innovative process we go from one extreme to the other before we find the happy medium. I think people are attracted to the googles of the world because that’s not what work is supposed to do-provide a fun environment, work is supposed to create a paycheck so you can support your family and be a responsible citizen. Now that we’ve had our terrible conditions of workplaces and we have the googles of the world we [HR folks] will start planting our companies in the middle somewhere saying look at the fun things we are and the terrible things we are not and hey we still have work to finish…

    3. Ben,

      The following is something I often say in an interview if the candiate asks me about the company culture and is something I can say with all honesty. . .

      “As long as I am living in Hattiesburg it would take a drastic shift or a lot of money to make me leave my job. There have been days that I didn’t want to get up and come to work – I think we can all say that. But, I can say this….I have never..wanted to come to..work…here.”

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