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People Geekly #35

Issue No. 35, brought to you by Culture Amp
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This is the thirty-fifth issue of Culture Amp's weekly email updating you on all the best #peoplegeek news around.

 Tweet of the week (2.5 sec)

"'Fitting in' to 'company culture' is often code for white/straight/male/extroverted/tall or other genetic traits unrelated to productivity."

Benefits with culture (5 min)  PICK OF THE WEEK 

Not every company can be a Google or Facebook. At least not right out of the gate, so how can smaller companies compete with the appetizing perks of the deep-pocketed big guys? Several startups have found ways to entice talent by simply offering an appealing culture. Mattermark, a company of less than 50 employees, offers an impressive 12 week parental paid leave of absence. AnyPerk has only 42 employees, but once a week they meet to discuss how to make a good culture for the employees. The company offers catered lunch four days a week, commuter benefits and unlimited paid time off. Watsi has eight employees and on an employee’s one-year anniversary, the company offers them a ticket to travel anywhere in the world.

Andrew Flowers discusses the increasing importance of social skills relative to employee advancement in the workplace. He turns to researcher and fellow writer David Deming to explain this further. After reviewing the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network surveys, Deming drew a few different conclusions. Firstly, technology automation is on the rise. Not surprisingly it is projected that most “routine” jobs requiring little cognitive or social ability will become automated within the next 20 years. Deming’s research appears to show women may be more up to the social task than men, and this gives them a distinct advantage to succeed in the workplace.

The limits of unlimited time off (6.5 min)

With many stressed out employees in the US workforce leaving much of their accrued vacation on the table each year, some companies decided to give an unlimited vacation policy a try. One might think this would be a welcome change to employees, but many found it to be problematic. Hubspot, Motley Fool, Zynga, Groupon, Glassdoor, Evernote, VMware, Ask.com, Eventbrite, ZocDoc, and SurveyMonkey all have successful unlimited vacation policies. But for some startups, like Triggertrap, there were complications. Triggertrap was able to tweak their unlimited vacation policy to actually give bonuses to employees who used their vacation days. The Tribune Company ended up rescinding the policy a mere week after putting it into action. 

Silicon Valley tech startups have been getting heat for exuding a “brogrammer” culture. This is the type of atmosphere that is not inviting to many, including women and other minority cultures. Studies show it’s harder to be diverse the larger the company grows, so many small companies are trying to be as diverse as possible while they’re still young. Buffer has developed a diversity dashboard which shows real-time data on the diversity of its job applicants. It really comes down to a thousand little things that you can do to be a better citizen effectively and a more neutral party to make an inviting workplace for women, men and any additional cultures, says Chris Wake, Spire Global’s head of business operations. Other companies like Lever and KeepSafe have found leaving out words like “ninja” and changing the phrasing of job postings also helps attract women applicants. 

We think it’s fair to say that most people who subscribe to the People Geekly would agree that onboarding new employees is crucial for long term success and engagement. Kate Heddleston, an independent Product Engineer, recently sat down with the team at Fog Creek to discuss onboarding software engineers.  Some of the key takeaways include shifting from having the most senior person run the mentoring to the last person who worked on that part of the product. Setting the goal of having software engineers ship something on their first day creates a sense of achievement that every new employee enjoys feeling. Lastly, onboarding shouldn’t sit with just one person or the HR department, Kate suggested taking the ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ approach to include everyone in the process.  


After selling out in San Francisco earlier this year, Culture Amp is happy to announce that it's bringing the Culture x Design unconference to New York. The idea is to get #peoplegeeks together so we can learn from each other with a combination of keynote speakers and unconference sessions. Don’t miss out on our special early bird rate.  

The Talent Strategy Institute is partnering with LinkedIn this Thursday evening in San Francisco for their People Analytics and The Future of Work Meet Up. See if you can spot any #peoplegeeks from Culture Amp there. 

We’re proud to be sponsoring the Tech Inclusion Conference. Learn what's currently being done around tech diversity and inclusion, discuss initiatives that have worked – and those that haven't – plus explore new solutions together. This conference is for the whole tech community: engineers and designers, entrepreneurs and policymakers, university faculty and corporate executives… of every race, gender, age, ability and geography. Register here.

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