Modern workplaces need character and challenge to attract the best talent. It’s a deceptively simple truth. In the tech sector in particular, employees have high expectations. They aren’t just looking for a job. They’re searching for work that will let them pour their passion into a common goal and put real effort into overcoming challenges. They’re searching for something greater than the sum of its parts, something they will be able to build together with other, similarly ambitious folks.
Not so simple, providing that kind of environment.
In this article, I’ll list the 9 most important features of a workplace that attracts and motivates people. If you see these 9 characteristics in a potential employer, you can be sure they put real effort into making their team happy.
A good, modern workplace is a space in which everyone feels valued and comfortable. We all want to be taken seriously and we want to use our skills and knowledge in a meaningful way. We’re also bound to have personal interests and goals, such as developing our skills or gaining experience in a particular field.
The perfect employer will allow and facilitate that, because they will understand that the happiness of each individual employee is as important as the goals of the company. The result should be a form of partnership: both the company and the employee benefit from the relationship and their needs are treated equally. Search for a company with the kind of culture in which every employee has the freedom to pursue their interests, because they align with the interest of the company.
Maybe some people out there lack ambition so completely that putting a difficult task ahead of them will only cause them stress. Most of us, however, enjoy a challenge - so long as it’s a reasonable one. This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but work that’s too easy kills motivation more quickly than anything else. People need a challenge to do their best and feel fulfilled when their work is done.
Employers must make sure their teams have plenty of work to do, and that it’s not easy work. It can be pleasant, even fun, but it can’t be too simple. True motivation and sense of fulfillment can be easily achieved by setting challenges ahead of a team, by making them work hard and work together. Ask yourself whether your employer does this.
As already mentioned, teamwork is extremely important in a happy workplace. We’re social creatures, we like to interact, share ideas and responsibility. We also like to be seen by others as capable and dependable. To help employees experience all this, it is crucial to communicate a clear goal to which they can all aspire.
Such a goal can be put simply: success of the company. Becoming the best at delivering a particular product or service. Achieving excellence in a certain field.
At Netguru, we use V2MOMs, both for the whole company and for every department, so that every employee knows exactly what they’re working towards, how to measure their success and what the next steps might be. This allows us to consciously strive towards the same goals.
Some executives seem to think it is their job to handle certain matters (e.g. budgeting) and keep others in the dark. Perhaps this is a means of achieving stability and removing worry for the company’s future, but at Netguru, we believe in complete transparency - which we describe in more detail in this interview.
We CC our emails, communicate on open Slack channels, give each other feedback and we’re never afraid to ask questions. The result is not the chaos you would expect from the fact that everybody is involved in everything. To the contrary: each employee chooses which pieces of information are relevant to them and participates only in the conversations to which they can bring something of value. At the same time, there is no risk of data being lost if one person’s computer breaks down, and work can be quickly taken over whenever somebody becomes suddenly unavailable.
We share knowledge happily, which lets us talk to each other freely and show open trust. This tends to do wonders for the atmosphere in the workplace.
Modern day employees are looking for flexibility. They want to adjust their work schedule to their busy lives, not the other way around. Perhaps they are at their most productive in the middle of the night - why should they and their employer be cheated out of their best results simply because most people work during the day?
Tasks completed, not the time spent at work, are what’s important. Flexible working hours and remote work allow people to complete mundane tasks (driving children to school, walking the dog, receiving mail) at their convenience, which reduces stress and helps them focus while at work.
Work, these days, is less about earning money and more about ambition. We want to develop our skills and earn experience in order to become better at what we do and take on more important responsibilities in time. Sometimes, we simply want a little change and need the option to shift our career paths in a certain direction.
A modern workplace allows for all this and more by actively working with each employee on their professional development through a comprehensive feedback system. Any mistakes made are to be analysed and corrected, not criticised. Further growth should be encouraged by providing funding for attending workshops and speaking at conferences. A company whose employees don’t have room to grow stagnates and can hardly grow itself.
Sometimes, we simply need to do some good. We’re human, we have empathy and we like to help. It doesn’t have to be huge, worldwide initiatives or fundraising galas. A little selflessness goes a long way, after all.
At Netguru, we encourage our employees to support education, take part in and organise events and share their knowledge - especially with future generations of software developers and designers. We want to inspire and help others discover their potential. Perhaps one day they will be our colleagues.
Each company needs a unique culture and character. It is, after all, something like a second home and feeling a real connection to the organisation is crucial for employee happiness. This is why investing in employer branding, team building activities, internal events and even chill out zones in the office are so important.
At Netguru, we do regular team dinners and help new employees integrate seamlessly into the team from day one thanks to our onboarding process. We promote transparency, constructive feedback and mutual appreciation. We even have an internal app just for giving each other props. We’re proud of the culture we’ve created, though we’re aware our work isn’t done. When looking for a new job, make sure your future employer’s culture fits your needs.
This might seem like a silly thing, but free sandwiches, a basketball court or comfortable sofas in a quiet nook in the office can make all the difference. It increases the homey, lived-in atmosphere of the workplace, helps employees relax and makes them feel catered to. Grand, expensive gestures are cool, but not necessary, and employees will often offer advice on what would be an awesome feature to introduce to their work space.
In the IT services industry especially, building a good team is the basis for success. At Netguru, we know this, which is why we’re constantly working to improve our work environment. In fact, you can read an interview with our CEO, Wiktor Schmidt, in which he shares his thoughts on the subject. If you’d like to help us with this initiative, check out our careers page.