Bay Area workers seek good pay and a strong corporate culture

We have entered the era of work culture. When workers consider taking a job, there is the pay, the benefits and, of course, the deal itself. But the workplace climate is also an important consideration today.

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

“I think of workplace culture as a company’s heartbeat. A healthy culture can create an organization where people thrive, innovations are born, and it’s a great place to work. If the environment radiates a negative culture, people and projects fall apart, productivity plummets and it’s time to abandon ship. “

And people jumped ship. There is a historically huge gulf between the available openings and the number of workers, and it is still a labor market. The federal survey of job openings and job turnover showed that 4.4 million workers quit their jobs in April, part of the continuing Great Resignation that catalyzed high demand for work.

In 2022, Bay Area workers expect their employers to take the lead by being good citizens and positive members of their communities. Both externally and internally, there is a continuing emphasis on respect, accountability, transparency and well-being.

These trends were prominent in The Chronicle’s survey of Bay Area’s best workplaces with Pennsylvania research firm Energage. Energage surveyed 21,575 Bay Area employees and, based solely on their feedback, assigned 126 organizations a spot on the 2022 Best Places to Work list. (Learn more about the survey methodology.)

Top Workplaces employees have often cited conditions that have fostered employee retention, now one of the most valuable attributes a company can have, as examples of how their employers were “doing well.” Respondents also highlighted open and collaborative cultures and employers who center employees in their cultures in order to better compete for talent. While working from home remains controversial nationwide, most Bay Area businesses have embraced the concept, with hybrid home office models gaining ground as well.

According to the survey responses, business leaders need to walk, not just talk. Workers expect employers to model the core values ​​promoted by the company. Whether it’s to criticize kindly or accept it gracefully, the rules apply to everyone. Bad actors and prima donnas are no longer tolerated. Compassion and humility are within. Arrogance and excess are out.

Profit is, of course, preferred, but it is now seen as the result of a happy, self-motivated workforce that believes in the company’s goals and mission rather than simply trying to make as much money as possible.

Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, who has been studying workplace practices for years, has found what he calls “work-life balance policies,” including maternity and paternity leave, work arrangements. from home and work sharing, all have positive results with consistent implications for management and overall business performance.

Bloom’s data, published by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, shows that “progressive policies” are good for business. Today, companies are promoting their support for these values ​​as they recruit and hire.

Sure, there’s resistance to some of these ideas (Elon Musk thinks he knows best), but telling employees, “The beating will continue until morale improves,” as they say, doesn’t work as it once did.

Kathleen Minser, Head of Operations for Legacy Real Estate, said the key to success is keeping everyone up to date.

“We really have a lot of transparency here. It makes a huge difference, “Minser said.” People aren’t kept in the dark. They aren’t surprised when we do something, because they’ve always known it. This is what we’ve been thinking, this is the direction we’re headed. ” .

Minser noted that transparency is a function of open communication and comes from respect: the more your colleagues know what you are doing, the easier it will be for them to help you.

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

“I would look for a culture from below. Are people able to bring and execute their own ideas and see those implemented within the product? Smith said. “I think it’s one of the hardest things to build in a culture. We hire all these experts to do these jobs, let them do them and also take responsibility for the management. “

Employees understand that neither leadership nor problem solving can be reliably sourced from crowdsourcing; responsible people must be accountable for their decisions and clarify how they came to make them.

“There are times when the greater good of the company takes priority, but we listen and moderate our decisions with the 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 this is not something that, as a responsible leader, I want to have within my company,” he said.

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

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

Rune Labs, based in San Francisco, is involved in advanced and significant 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 physicians better manage Parkinson’s disease. Chase Babcock, Rune’s director of operations for its Strive PD app, said the company’s mission – to provide better and more effective healthcare for patients everywhere – creates its own platform for delivery.

“How can you not be kind and thoughtful when trying to help people feel better?” Babcock said. That behavior becomes the model for dealing with one another within the company.

And leadership aims to live 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 encouraging and open to feedback, why should a manager be disrespectful and punitive?” Babcock said. “He definitely sets the stage for how he wants leadership to be.”

Business leaders are seeing how their values ​​and their value-based actions are ultimately amplified throughout their organization and set the stage for performance.

Bill Aboumrad, president of Legacy Real Estate, points out the process and business philosophy he learned from his father, who founded the company. “What really matters to me is that I just want people 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 about the amount of transactions you make because if you offer a good and quality service, the activity will follow by itself. “

Leaders of top companies have agreed that positive values ​​improve their businesses rather than burden them. Smith of Afresh appreciates that the company’s values ​​are active and actionable: proactivity, kindness, frankness, humility. Proactivity is particularly important in its domain.

“If you see something, act accordingly. We are a small company, 150 people, and there were times when we launched with a tight deadline and we have to work late and people take proactive steps to solve problems. They don’t wait for someone to tell them to. They jump into it. “

Smith believes that the company’s values ​​allow work to take center stage, not to be part of some extraneous drama, draining energy. “And so coming to work is so cool because we can only focus on creating the best product,” he said. “Now we don’t have to worry about ‘Oh, am I getting this promotion?’ It is much more than the fact that we are here to solve food waste, full stop. “

Marcus Crowder is a Bay Area freelance writer.