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You are NOT Google; Thoughts on Workplace Culture – A Guest Blog

Jeff Waldman
Published April 16, 2013

Ahhhh yeeees… culture fit in the workplace!  Go to and type in the words, “workplace culture” and you will see pages upon pages upon pages of content relating to workplace culture—blog posts, companies, articles, white papers, videos, etc… simply put, there are too many people trying to complicate what workplace culture is, its impact on business and how to find that winning recipe for a top workplace culture.

Who Cares About Google or Facebook?

No really, who cares?  It’s no secret that these two giant companies employ extremely dynamic workplace practices that influence their culture.  I know this because I spent time in Google’s offices—took a morning nap in one of their ultra-online-connected sleeping pods, playing ping pong, laying out on a beach chair sipping a virgin daiquiri, jumping on a Google Hangout with a group of Googlers from around the world and playing around with their uber-ergonomic workstations.

Guess what?  YOU are NOT Google or Facebook, nor will you ever be!  You do not employ their employees, you likely do not have the ability to commit large amounts of money to pay for wild and crazy perks, and what they do has absolutely zero impact on your workplace culture.  Move on!

You Are Unique

Every single organization that exists today is unique by virtue of the people that make up their workforce.  Simple.  This collective group defines your workplace culture, nobody else.  Remember, as leaders you can influence, impact, shape and effect culture but you can never define it.  Employees define, leadership enables.

Hiring is King

Hiring or recruiting is the most important function any organization can do today because when you add a new employee you are influencing workplace culture.  New hires bring their own personalities, work styles, temperaments, experiences and perspectives that will influence and contribute to existing culture.

Not only are you adding to existing culture but you need to make sure you hire people that will positively impact existing culture and business performance, not drain it.  Think about it for a second—what is impacted with new hires?  Training, productivity, time in delivering recruitment activities (e.g. screening, interviewing, etc…), efficiency, effectiveness, team-work and the list goes on.

Wait… There is More

Recruitment is the most important function in organizations because it impacts so many things within a business, but it’s not everything.  What happens after you hire someone? They start working for you.  They naturally transition to “the employee workforce”; the group that defines your workplace culture.  You simply cannot throw everything into recruitment practices and forget about the rest.  If you forget about your existing employees your workplace culture will simply stink!  In fact, those new hires you worked so hard to recruit will quickly contribute to the “stinking” work environment.

What Should You Do?

After hiring you need to continue thinking like sales people and focus on “workplace infrastructure”.  The trick to sales is to evoke a desirable emotion in someone that causes them to want to buy.  How you get employees to “buy into” the workplace is through infrastructure; flexible and customizable depending on the unique needs of your employees.

Here are the core elements:

  1. Compensation—all you need to know is this.  Ensure that your compensation strategy is perceived as fair.  If how you pay people (both base salary and variable/commission/bonus/etc…) is perceived to be unfair, this will have a significantly negative impact on culture.  It works in the opposite way most people think.

  2. Leadership—there is a positive correlation between strong leadership abilities and a highly magnetic workplace culture.  Empowering employees to make decisions and perform work that suits their natural preferences that fits within their “box of authority” will maximize performance and job satisfaction.

  3. Inter-Generational Sensitivities—we currently have 4 distinct workplace generations in organizations today; Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, Gen X and Gen Y (or Millennial).  Each group and person has different preferences, ideas and circumstances that influence how they work.  You need to understand each and every single employee in your organization and what makes them tick.

  4. Recognition—linking recognizing employees for the work they do with your core business strategies is what this is all about.  It is not about recognizing for the sake of recognizing because of some documented quota.  Organizations employ people to do work that help them succeed, which is defined in ways unique to your business.

  5. Work/Life Formula—gone are the days where you can turn off your work and turn on your personal life, and vice versa, unless you work in a traditional manufacturing plant.  People are living longer, spending more time commuting to and from work and taking responsibility for more personal initiatives.  These all impact work—allowing employees flexibility and customization in what will allow them to succeed is what this is all about.

  6. Work Tools/Technology—the physical workplace is rapidly changing.  No longer does every employee commute into a central location to work.  Technology productivity tools are getting better and better by the day, and are being used more and more to support employees working remotely.

You are not Google… nor do you really want to be.  Hiring the right people is so crucial to your workplace culture, and so is all of the other stuff that supports the day-to-day operations of your business.  You need to consider all of it in order for your workplace culture to truly shine.


 Social media enthusiast, entrepreneur, social HR strategist and educator, Jeff is the Founder of and SocialHRCamp. With a background in business, HR and marketing, and a diverse career spanning all facets of HR Jeff has been carving out and leading the way in a growing niche that brings together HR, social media and business. When not working on a new idea, running an event, networking, speaking with business students or playing sports he can be found with his wife and three young boys in North Toronto.


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