6 workplace lessons from companies like Facebook, Google & Apple

Creating a fun and engaging workplace has been one of the tricks of the big tech company’s trade. For years now, pioneering organisations like Google, Facebook and Apple have known that it pays to create a workplace that motivates and encourages workers to put in the hard yard shifts. The results achieved by these oragnisations speak volumes.

Yet, the rest of the world hasn’t caught up. For years these companies were mocked for their cultures and values yet when it comes to employee satisfaction surveys, the winners are evident. The winners probably are not the company that you work for. So what can we learn from these pioneers?

For a start, their employees love their jobs, unlike the rest of the worlds employees. Surveys repeatedly show workers who are over-worked, stressed and generally dissatisfied with life at work. According to the American Psychological Society, 39% of people point to working too longer hours as a reason for dissatisfaction. Yet many of the workers at the big tech companies work hours that you and I can only dream about. Google employees work so long that the company put beds in their offices. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook invented the hackathon – a 24 hour straight coding marathon. However bad your boss, he probably doesn’t demand 24 hour shifts.

One of the biggest points of difference when it comes to the big tech companies is their social workplaces. Social workplaces allow for team building and team work within breaks. They allow for collaboration and provide a platform around which brainstorms and solutions can be found. Sometimes its amazing just how effective it can be when you let somebody get away from their desk and clear their head for twenty minutes.

Here are seven tips for eliminating employee dissatisfaction and creating a more social workplace:

1. Simplify employee’s lives with on site perks

The big-name tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are often noted for their obsessive nature towards employee perks. In their world, the big name, highly skilled software developers are in high demand, so if these companies want to employ the ‘A-Players’ that Steve Jobs talked so fondly of, then they need to pull out all the stops to build a corporate environment which pulls in the top talent.

What perks do they give? The list is almost endless, and includes:

  • ·         On site gyms
  • ·         Work from home / flexi-hours
  • ·         As many holiday days as you want
  • ·         On site laundry, child care and car washing
  • ·         On site restaurants complete with bars
  • ·         Games tables, including Ping Pong tables, pool tables and table football tables

 Why do they do it? These perks all make life easier and more fun for their employees. If the company takes care of childcare, then the worker can put in longer shifts without having to dash off at a moments notice. The big companies know that by simplifying their workers lives outside of work, then they get their full attention whilst in work.  

2. Go flatter

Workplaces that are strictly ordered – with bosses in one section, managers and then everyday workers in other sections are rigid and old fashioned.

The big tech companies know that hit-teams work better, made up of equals. These teams are given the autonomy to make their own decisions and are judged on results. They’re trusted to take time out – often off premises – to work on delivering results not office hours.

3. Give everybody a voice

Many of the big tech companies create online communities, and they often brand these up to make everybody feel part of the family. At Google, they refer to each other as Googlers. Think its just a daft moniker? Time and time again, Googlers have spoken about how daft it felt at first (having just joined Google), only for them to go on to really buy in to the idea.

How do the big tech companies leverage this buy in for the good of the company? By giving the workers their own voice across a range of critical business functions, from recruitment to key top-level decisions. The big tech companies leverage the contacts amongst their workers to find new talent, helping them to pull in people who match their culture minus the hefty recruitment costs.

4. Promote From Within

So often, companies invest heavily in talent only to give that talent nowhere to go. The end result? They leave.

The big tech companies are far from exempt to this problem too (headhunting is rife, especially for top engineers), but they know an effective way to counteract it. Promote from within.

They provide fast track promotion opportunities or at the very least they ensure that the talent in their company gets their responsibilities freshen up frequently. They empower relatively new employees to be mentors to even newer ones, and they work to ensure that workers definitely do not have boring monotonous roles.

The ultimate example? Tim Cook at Apple was promoted from within, having worked hard on the product for years. Apple resisted any urge to go out and hire an all-star CEO to replace the late Steve Jobs; they knew they had the talent in the organisation to get the job done.

5. Focus on Outplacement Services

With the best will in the world on the company’s side, they will always lose employees occasionally.

The big tech companies recognise that a person leaving today, may be hired again tomorrow. They therefore do not foster resentment towards former employees, on the contary they celebrate them. By being seen as a viable and effective ladder on an employees career path, the big tech companies know that they can benefit from having a rising star for a few years. In the big tech world, the stars are always attracted by their own start-ups or by headhunters, but a star can leave a legacy in a third of the time it takes a B-player. After, we are long past the ‘job for life’ stage in our societies development.

How do tech companies position themselves to attract such talent? They make a strong effort to show and focus on outplacement. They often even provide job search software, retraining and education opportunities to all employees. They work on advancing careers, knowing that they will lose some, but that they can also gain from the work done by their likeminded company peers.











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