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Life at Work, Organizational Culture

Soulless in Seattle

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Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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iStock_000054895092_Small-2.jpgWhile the economy in Silicon Valley is the envy of many mayors and city councilmembers across the country, the tech boom isn’t without its noticeable downsides. Case in point? You don’t need to look further than San Francisco, where a one-bedroom apartment fetches a nation-high $3,500/month on the open market, according to Zumber.

But while torrents of cash are lining the pockets of young tech entrepreneurs and their employees, the New York Times reports that many San Franciscans are worried their beloved city is pricing out artists, teachers, and musicians — the kind of folk who, over the years, made that city what it is today.

The Situation in Seattle

Head 800 miles north to Seattle, and you’ll find a similar tech boom, albeit one that’s in a more nascent stage. According to Zumber, as it stands now, Seattle is the nation’s 10th most expensive place to rent, with one-bedroom apartments commanding an average of $1,650/month.

With San Francisco as a point of comparison, many Seattleites feel as though the recent influx of tech companies may very well be destroying the soul of the Emerald City. Is it only a matter of time before Seattle’s artists and working-class residents get priced out of the city too?

Hold the Brakes

First things first: tech companies aren’t the devil, and in addition to the fantastic products they build and impressive benefits they offer, many of them also do their best to build great organizational cultures for their employees. And they do indeed build fantastic products.

Be honest: How would you spend your time without Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn? How would you shop without Amazon? How would small businesses survive without tools like Square, Stripe, and Fundbox?

Back to those work cultures: because tech companies are so invested in building strong cultures, in addition to making their businesses healthier, they’re actually contributing positively to the overall culture in the metropolitan areas they call home.

Need some more convincing that a tech invasion will actually end up being a great thing for Seattle? Here are four real-world examples that’ll help prove that hypothesis:

1. Porch

Porch is a platform that connects homeowners with skilled contractors and home improvement professionals in their area. The company is growing fairly quickly, but management cares deeply about maintaining the “small office” feel despite the significant uptick in employees.

To make sure employees remain happy, Porch partnered with us to give managers accurate insight into precisely how their employees were coping with the rapid growth. Using this data-driven approach, they uncovered an opportunity to better train new managers to support employee needs.

With the right support system in place, employees can reach their full potential — both inside and outside the office.

2. Limeade

Limeade is a service that encourages employees to be healthier and happier so they can become the best workers possible. That task is much easier to accomplish with a staff full of people who believe in the mission and share the company’s values. Amy Patton, Limeade’s Director of Culture and Well-Being, explains:

“We signed up for TINYpulse because we felt like it was critical that we are able to stay aligned and get ongoing feedback from our employees to make sure that they know that we care and that they’re being heard in ways that we can improve our culture.”

Limeade sends out weekly surveys via TINYpulse, so the company is able to get feedback in real time. An example: The company recently asked its staff what new features it would like to see in its new office space. They were able to enact some of the suggestions, like themed conference rooms, showers, scooters, gyms, and more.

3. White Pages

White Pages is, as you might expect, a service that helps users track down pertinent contact information for people, businesses, and other organizations. The company strives to create a great environment for its employees, and to do that, they’ve enlisted our help. Erin Schindler, who works in the accounting department at White Pages, says, 

“It gives you a chance to really recognize people that help you every day, and a lot of times it feels weird to just go up to someone and tell them that they helped you out. Our leadership team really takes [TINYpulse] into consideration, and I see a lot happening with the suggestions and feedback.”

When it boils down to it, what better way is there to figure out what your employees want than by asking them directly? (And letting them respond anonymously.)

4. StrataCore

StrataCore is a firm that offers IT infrastructure services, including cloud, connectivity, and data center functionality. As a startup, StrataCore knows full well how important it is for employees to be happy and content with their work. Justin Swanberg, Director of Finance and Operations, explains:

“Part of the growing pains of a startup company is trying to figure out who you need on your team to grow and be successful. To try and find a way to consistently have that pulse on your employees is difficult, so as soon as I heard about TINYpulse it was a no-brainer.”

When conducting employee satisfaction surveys, StrataCore discovered that a crucial team member was unhappy to the point that they were considering quitting. Through TINYpulse’s anonymous private messaging feature, the StrataCore team was able to remedy the problem — and the company is stronger as a result.

It can be hard to be comfortable with change; that’s perfectly understandable. But change happens all the time: when is the last time you revisited the town you grew up in? It’s important to remember that change isn’t always a bad thing — and it’s certainly not in the case of the tech companies popping up all over Seattle.

In addition to providing solutions that help makes people’s lives easier, these companies also invest heavily in their employees, and that investment extends beyond simple salary and benefits. By and large, tech companies understand that happier and more community-minded employees have much more to contribute. And those contributions don’t stop when employees leave work at the end of the day.




Sabrina Son

Sabrina is the editor in chief for TINYpulse news. She's dipped her toes into various works of writing — from retail copywriter to magazine editor. Her work's been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg BNA, and Tech.co.

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