People are quickly learning that the gratification you get from the ping-pong tables and cold brew on tap can erode just as fast as it came swerving in. Once the adorable pay cuts get mentioned on the Slack channel, paying your college debt seems to become a bigger pill to swallow.
As resourceful humans we are quite creative in getting the random resources lying around to work for us. Pool table? No more! It now houses the printouts of your app’s user flow. But again, if time is such a crucial currency to startupland, then shouldn’t we be seriously evaluating if playful perks are BS or bootstrap friendly?
So here’s the $1,000,000 question: Why are problem solving startups adding to their list of problems to solve? Like how to take this customer support call without the noise of the Nintendo Mario Kart soundtrack booming in the background?
Success stories like Google defined their cultures with the aide of beanbag chairs and have since inspired a generation of startups to follow suite. Companies think they can win over workers with toys and treats, and a far less expensive alternative to better pay and training.
“Here in Silicon Valley it’s almost passé to have unlimited vacation, dogs at work, or free food, believe it or not,” said Scott Dobroski, the director of communications at Glassdoor. “People are getting more creative.”
The NY Times recently wrote about boutique Ad agencies like Deutsch and Ogilvy & Mather doubling down on microbrews on tap and happy hour to fight the red tide of talent loss. Advertising saw a 25 percent “net talent loss” compared with competitive industries. “The ping-pong table and Red Bull are very surface level,” said Evan Porter, who used to work at an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency. His statement seems to be in sync with 2015 Glassdoor survey that found that workers want health insurance, paid vacation, and sick days, the potential for performance bonuses, and a company-matched 401(k) plan.
What I find most telling about the above study is what was not mentioned… Where are the arcade machines? The juice bars and in house happy hours?
“When you think about your team, think of them as your prized customers”, Sir Richard Branson once told me (through a meme on my Linkedin newsfeed – small detail). He also says to “put your staff first, customers second, and shareholders third”.
That means train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.
So as one bootstrapper to another, let’s close our eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath and let those wise words smoothly slide down like a fine single malt scotch. The important goal is ever growing traction with our team and our customers. So how to do this? Writing this on big letters on the wall is a start. “Our scooter free workplace is a healthier one now for it.” Stay on top of your goals so that your primary source of company income does not one day resort to a craigslist sale of random toys to some fraternity kids.