Perks are not Culture

I’m going to borrow from this Netflix powerpoint about their culture in this post about what The Hard Thing About Hard Thing says about culture.

Horowitz says that perks are not culture, and I really like that idea. Having yoga at your company might be great for people who like yoga, but it’s not a part of the company culture.

“[Yoga] will not establish a core value that drives the business and help promote in perpetuity. It is not specific with respect to what your business aims to achieve. Yoga is a perk.”

As you can tell, Horowitz thinks that a culture must reinforce values, and it must relate to what it is you are trying to achieve. Having a ping pong table sort of reinforces the idea that management values an employee’s health, but you wouldn’t exactly call that a specific, core value of you company, would you?

The Netflix philosophical argument goes as follows: a work place does not come from perks — it comes from “stunning colleagues.” Who you work with, who you work for, and who works for you…these things tend to dominate one’s thoughts when he or she thinks about his or her job and work culture.

Further, Netflix says that a company’s values are the behaviors and skills that are valued in fellow employees. You can write anything you want on the wall or in the mission statement, but values are created through actions…specifically, how people are treated and why.