The past few years have seen some fascinating developments in the ways that companies manage their staff. In the UK, all employees now have the right to request flexible working. Last year, Virgin famously introduced a policy of unlimited holiday. New technology is making location independence increasingly popular and shifting the focus from presenteeism to actual performance.
Netflix, meanwhile, has spent just over a decade refining a unique HR policy that boils down to this: top performing staff can do whatever they like so long as they deliver, while hard workers that are nonetheless mediocre or simply the wrong fit are given extremely generous severance packages and sent on their merry way. “Brilliant jerks” that perform to a high standard but damage the team with their arrogance are similarly dispatched, says Netflix.
“Culture and Responsibility”, the 127-slide PowerPoint deck that illustrates the approach is now a thing of business legend, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has described it as one of the most important documents ever to come out of Silicon Valley.
As Netflix so aptly points out, a company culture isn’t created by collecting a few clichéd adjectives and writing them on a mission statement: that’s just PR, and has nothing to do with what people actually think, feel and do.
“The actual company values, as opposed to the nice-sounding values, are shown by who gets rewarded, promoted, or let go,” proclaims the deck. “Actual company values are the behaviours and skills that are valued in fellow employees.”
This is where the startup mentality can become a major asset. Dispensing with hierarchy, trusting your staff to just get on with it and focussing on results rather than process might sound visionary when they come from the mouth of a FTSE 100 CEO, but many small businesses do these things anyway – and when they do, they tend to see incredible employee engagement and loyalty.
This week, we look at how a company’s culture, outlook and management style impacts on its ability to motivate and inspire the whole team. We’ll talk about the things that genuinely make your staff feel valued (hint: it’s not all about money) and how an engaged workforce can drive forward your business’ productivity.
We also talk to the heads of the UK’s five fastest-growing tech companies about the pitfalls of rapid success, and how to make sure you stay true your vision and goals when things start spiralling out of control.
As always, we’d love to hear about your views and experiences. Please tweet us @SMEInsider with the hashtag #BizCulture