It’s no secret that software engineering is an in-demand skill across the United States. Companies are clamoring for the best of the best, and the completive market is great for engineers and engineering recruiters alike.
One thing I’ve noticed is that smaller companies that can’t compete on salary are often trying to lure talented engineers with promises of a great corporate culture. This is a great idea, but I don’t think all of these firms fully understand what ‘culture’ is really about.
Through the course of my work with tech companies and other Denver engineering recruiters like Expect, I get to talk with lots of tech guys. One recent conversation centered on a company that was, by all accounts, awful to work for. They had high turnover, low pay, poor morale. The list goes on. Through the engineer I was talking to, I learned that they were recruiting engineers with promises of great company culture, and used the recent purchase of a billiards table as an example.
I enjoy shooting pool as much as the next guy, but a material item, no matter how cool, is not an example of company culture.
A modern, mid-sized company has to keep all sorts of people happy. Engineers, marketers, salespeople, accounting.
What happens if an employee, or several employees, dislike billiards? Having an office full of people who share the same interests, hobbies and beliefs can be great if you are running a small yoga studio or boutique advertising agency, but become problematic, when it occurs in a larger workplace.
A big company like Facebook or Google can afford to stuff their offices with so many distractions that there is something for everyone. Employees are encouraged to flex their creative muscles by playing games during downtime – that is their company culture, not the individual toys.
Instead of attempting to copy the tech giants, I think smaller firms would be better off providing employees with occasional perks like food delivery, optional Friday happy hour or raffling off the corporate Denver Nuggets tickets.
Another thing that employees have been known to covet? Early dismissal when there is nothing to do. If they really wanted to play pool, they could visit the local pool hall
Of course, although a pool table isn’t a substitute for company culture, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have one. If you have the resources and space for a pool table in your breakroom, I doubt the engineering team will complain too loudly.