Bay Area workers seek good pay and a strong company culture

We have entered the era of corporate culture. When workers think about whether they should take a job, there’s the pay, the benefits and, of course, the job itself. But today, the workplace climate is also an important consideration.

“Workplace culture is the environment in which an employee feels heard, seen, safe, included and part of the team,” said Judi Nield, marketing director of Legacy Real Estate & Associates, a real estate firm of Fremont and one of the companies on The Bay Area Chronicle’s Best Workplaces List for 2022.

“I see corporate culture as the heartbeat of a business. A healthy culture can fuel an organization where people thrive, innovations are born, and it’s a great place to work. If the environment exudes a negative culture, people and projects drift apart, productivity plummets, and it’s time to jump ship.

And people jumped ship. There’s a historically huge chasm between available openings and the number of workers, and it’s still a labor market. The federal job vacancies and labor turnover survey showed 4.4 million workers quit their jobs in April, part of the continuing big quit that has catalyzed strong demand labor.

In 2022, workers in the Bay Area expect their employers to show leadership by being good citizens and positive members of their communities. Both externally and internally, the emphasis is on respect, responsibility, transparency and well-being.

These trends were prominent in The Chronicle’s survey of the Bay Area’s best places to work with Pennsylvania research firm Energage. Energage surveyed 21,575 Bay Area employees and, based on their feedback alone, awarded 126 organizations spots on the 2022 Best Workplaces list. (Learn more about the survey methodology.)

Employees in top workplaces often cite the conditions that promote worker retention, now one of the most valuable attributes a company can have, as examples of how their employers “do it right.” Respondents also highlighted open and collaborative cultures and the fact that their employers center their employees around their cultures to better compete for talent. Although working from home remains controversial nationally, most Bay Area businesses have embraced the concept, with hybrid home office models also gaining traction.

According to survey responses, business leaders need to lead by example, not just speak up. Workers expect employers to embrace the core values ​​that the company promotes. Whether it’s criticizing with kindness or accepting it with grace, the rules apply to everyone. Bad actors and prima donnas are no longer tolerated. Compassion and humility are in it. Arrogance and excess are out.

Profit is, of course, preferred, but is now seen as the result of a happy, motivated workforce that believes in the goals and mission of the company rather than just trying to earn the most possible money.

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, who has studied workplace practices for years, found that what he calls “friendly work-life balance policies,” including maternity and paternity, work-from-home arrangements and job sharing, all had consistent positive effects. implications for management and overall business performance.

Bloom data, published by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, shows that “progressive policies” are good for business. Today, companies promote their adherence to these values ​​when recruiting and hiring.

Sure, there’s resistance to some of these ideas (Elon Musk thinks he knows best), but telling employees, “The beatings will continue until morale improves,” as the saying goes , does not work as it once might have.

Kathleen Minser, operations manager for Legacy Real Estate, said the key to success is keeping everyone in the loop.

“We really have a lot of transparency here. It makes a huge difference,” Minser said. “People are not kept in the dark. They’re not surprised when we do something, because they’ve known it all along. That’s what we thought, that’s the direction we’re headed.

Minser noted that transparency is a function of open communication and is born out of respect — the more your colleagues know what you do, the easier it is for them to help you.

Lois Smith is director of machine learning at Afresh Technologies, a software developer trying to eliminate food waste in grocery stores. She believes that mutual respect within the company enables the organization to do good in the world.

“I would look for a bottom-up culture. Are people able to bring and execute their own ideas and see those implemented in the product? Smith said. “I think that’s one of the hardest things to build into a culture. We hire all these experts to do this work, let them do it, and even let them take over the management.

Employees understand that neither leadership nor problem solving can be reliably outsourced; managers must be accountable for their decisions and clearly know how they arrived at them.

“There are times when the highest good of the business comes first, but we always listen and temper our decisions with feedback in mind,” said Ryan Iwanaga, founder of Sereno Real Estate (now called Christie’s International Real Estate Sereno). “I worked in an environment where I felt helpless, and that’s not something that, as a responsible leader, I want to have in my company,” he said.

One of the most effective ways he has found to engage employees in company values ​​is to get them to achieve certain results. “For Chris (co-founder and CEO Chris Trapani) and me, our charitable foundation is one of the greatest accomplishments we have as a company. The unique and most powerful aspect of our foundation is that the offices Individuals are empowered to decide which local organizations receive funding.

“We have been fortunate to be successful in our performance as a residential real estate brokerage, but we are very proud and humbled by the collective effort of our employees and our company to be active and supportive members of the communities we we serve,” Iwanaga said. . “Our function as a business is not just to take (in the form of revenue) resources from the community, but to reinvest some of that success in meaningful and impactful ways that will hopefully elevate cultural circumstances. and experiences of our environment.”

Rune Labs, based in San Francisco, is involved in extensive and advanced research and development. The precision neurology software and data analytics company supports the delivery of care and the development of therapies to help patients and clinicians better manage Parkinson’s disease. Chase Babcock, Rune’s chief operating officer for its Strive PD app, said the company’s mission – to provide better and more efficient healthcare to patients around the world – is creating its own delivery platform.

“How can you not be kind and caring when trying to help people feel better?” said Babcock. This behavior becomes the model for dealing with each other within the company.

And management aims to live the values. CEO Brian Pepin “and our leadership want to be involved at all levels in a positive way without any ego – creating an environment where if you see the CEO being supportive and open to feedback, why should a manager be disrespectful and punitive? ” said Babcock. “He definitely sets the stage for what he wants leadership to look like.”

Business leaders see how their values ​​and actions based on those values ​​are ultimately amplified throughout their organization and set the stage for performance.

Bill Aboumrad, president of Legacy Real Estate, emphasizes the process and business philosophy he learned from his father, who founded the company. “What really matters to me is that I just want individuals to do good quality work. That’s all I care about,” Aboumrad said. It’s a simple and clear message that his people appreciate and understand. “I don’t really care how many transactions you make because if you provide quality service, the business will follow on its own.”

Leaders of top companies have agreed that positive values ​​enhance their businesses rather than clutter them. Smith of Afresh appreciates that the values ​​of the company are active and concrete: proactivity, kindness, frankness, humility. Proactivity is particularly important in his field.

“If you see something, you act on it. We’re a small company, 150 people, and there have been times when we’re launching with a tight deadline and we have to work late and people are proactively stepping in to resolve issues. They don’t wait for someone to tell them to do it. They just jump in.

Smith believes that company values ​​allow the work to take center stage, not be part of an alien, energy-draining drama. “And so coming to work is so nice because we can just focus on building the best product,” she said. “Now we don’t have to worry about ‘Oh, am I getting this promotion?’ It’s more about the fact that we’re here to solve food waste — period.

Marcus Crowder is a freelance writer from the Bay Area.