I believe in exceptional workplaces. I believe in building great atmosphere, helping people to fulfill their potential and making work more fun.
There was time when I believed that exceptional workplace results in exceptional workers.
I don’t anymore.
Actually I’m confused when it comes to the subject. When I read Joel Spolsky writing about Fog Creek I’m all “Hey, the guy is a guru, he just can’t be wrong.” And then I hear the story about Googlers complaining about lack of variety of coffee brands and I’m all “What the hell? Can’t they just appreciate how much their employer is doing for them every single day?” I see how much genuine fun can be initiated by integration events. And then I see people who aren’t able to understand all of these features aren’t a duty of their employer – it’s either good will or an investment which doesn’t have to bring any ROI by the way.
Google attracts great engineers, but not with free snacks or gorgeous offices. In the first place it’s because they run extremely interesting projects and then it can be about exceptional workplace too, but in a second or a third place. I guess Google also attracts loads of people who aren’t anywhere close to be great engineers.
The same was with Microsoft back in 90s. Now Microsoft is the source of all evil but then it was a destination for many great engineers. And I don’t really remember anyone mentioning free soda as the main reason of choosing Microsoft.
At the same time I’m happy I can offer people in my team bonuses which aren’t offered by our competitors on local labor market. These guys haven’t joined the team because of these add-ons but they make working here a bit nicer.
Someone can say there used to be more “features” in our company some time ago but my answer is “so what?” Maybe some people will stop treating all these bonuses as granted and actually start appreciating when they get one. Because if you’re one of those who spend all day complaining about lack of variety of coffee brands you may want to reconsider what’s really important for you at work.
After all, exceptional workplace is only one of many pieces of attracting great engineers. Definitely not the most important one.