Ask any millennial today to describe their ideal workplace culture and more often than not, it will
include catered bottom-less pantries, meditation rooms, video games and comfy bean bags
scattered around to make me-time more convenient.
Ask them to name companies that they think have great company culture and expect to hear tech
companies and start-ups like Uber, Yahoo, and Amazon. While these companies may seem like the
pinnacle of millennial-friendly company culture, reality doesn’t always fit the image.
On paper, you might expect that companies excelling at connecting people would have strong,
positive organisational cultures that propelled them in the marketplace. Not so. Amazon workers
were encouraged to tear each other’s ideas apart in meetings, in an environment more akin to a
gladiatorial arena than a people-first Fortune-500 company.
Uber was dominated by its frat culture, which came into the light after allegations of sexual
misconduct forced an investigation by the US Attorney General, whose report listed out some
glaring company culture issues.
Uber considered “toe-stepping” a prized value
The company’s 14 “cultural values” need some serious revamping. Things like Always Be Hustlin’,
Meritocracy, Toe-Stepping, and Principled Confrontation– helped justify poor behaviour by
Its human resources department wasn’t properly serving its humans
Much of the blame on Uber’s HR department. Which was described as disorganised, under-
utilised and lacking support from senior management. The AG’s report tasks the department with
record-keeping, a very basic function of HR. It suggests using software to track complaints,
personnel records and employee data.
Some perks were reserved for people without families
Catered meals for employees were served at 8.15 pm which made it impractical for those with
families, as well as encouraging employees to work late. Uber confirms that catered meals will
now be at 7 pm instead.
Frat-boy drinking was encouraged
The company needs to grow up, with the AG’s report suggesting that managers should have an
allowance for spending on alcohol.
Inter-office relationships were largely unrestricted
In the infamous Miami Letter by CEO Travis Kalanick in 2013, was a loose directive to employees 1
to have fun but not to hook up with anyone in their chain of command at a company party.
Uber execs had unchecked power
the AG’s report recommends the board add an independent chairperson to serve as a check
on Uber’s management and make sure the board is taking the recommendations seriously. The
chairperson will be key to holding new execs accountable, as Uber looks to fill position including
CFO, general counsel and COO. It also asks that an “oversight committee” be created to hold
the company accountable for things like ethical business practices, diversity and inclusion.
Employees were treated unequally
The report also calls on Uber to update its discrimination and harassment policies, create
transparent promotion requirements and take stock of its pay practices.
So, as attractive as flashy companies like Uber are, they are hardly the beacon for positive
company culture. So how does a company create a culture to succeed today?
Establish clear ethos and values for the organisation
It is important to have a set of clear organisational core values that are communicated effectively
and discussed with the employees so that they feel part of it. It is crucial that demonstrable
actions are taken regularly so that the employees feel an individual and personal responsibility
towards these values.
Foster collaboration and communication
Use a leadership and management style that encourages teamwork, open and honest
communication is vital to creating a positive feeling in the workplace. These can include coffee
mornings, team getaways and family weekends. This gives an opportunity for team members to
nurture and foster connections outside of work.
Create an inclusive work environment
A positive workplace is one where all the employees are valued, supported and nurtured
irrespective of gender, sexual orientation or colour. All employees should have equal
opportunities to progress and equal access to all the perks and rewards on offer.
Create clear goals and rewards for the employees
The survey by Deloitte showed that 83% of executives and 84% of employees rank having
engaged and motivated employees as the top factor that substantially contributes to a company’s
success. Motivated and engaged employees can be created if they are treated equally and have
clear goals that they can work towards. Having a transparent policy for progression and promotion
offers the staff an opportunity to measure their performance.
Positive culture in the workplace does wonders for creating a sense of pride and ownership
amongst employees, and ultimately leads to company success. It also goes deeper than shiny toys
or flashy office perks – a ping pong table doesn’t lead to job satisfaction after all.
Learn how to change the culture of your company to one that is positive for both employees and
your bottom line, by visiting us at Accendo