We Just Sent Our Web Developer to Acting Classes

We just sent one of our engineers to a twenty-session professional acting course as part of his Personal Growth Plan. His goal for when he graduates Jolt is to co-found a startup; so together with our Employee Success Team he defined self confidence and public speaking as some of his key goals for the next few months.

We even made a short video about it:

no more pool tables, yoga classes and power naps.

At Jolt, there’s no such thing as unlimited vacations. We don’t have beer taps, pool tables, game consoles, power naps, yoga classes, fitness rooms, in-office showers, or flashy offsites. We don’t give away expensive swag. We stay at inexpensive Airbnbs when traveling. We even renovated our own office space using furniture we bought from flea markets (and it looks great). Oh, and we also don’t offer competitive salaries. We think trying to compete with tech-giants on pay-grade is both futile, and stupid.

We literally save every dime we can from nonsense and instead spend as much as we can on where our money should be going: our employees’ growth and development.

we believe in PURPOSE over parties.

By now it’s well known that the current workforce in Silicon Valley values purpose over parties and growth over perks. We went as far as surveying California-based millennial techies. It turns out, 45% of them think their employers spend too much money on perks and office space, while only 20% of them are happy with the training and development they'v received.

What people have misunderstood for years is that for millennials, education and work are one in the same. With a majority of us prioritizing experience as a key factor in job selection, it’s safe to say that today’s millennials measure workplaces as if they were schools; a place for learning and growth, not for pool tables and beer taps. After interviewing nearly 500 candidates for various positions over the past few years, we came to a realization.

We want to leave better than we arrived.

We began to ask candidates one simple question, “Why did you leave your last workplace?”

The same answer was given over and over again, “I felt like I finished growing,” or “I was looking to learn something new." We didn’t ask this question coincidentally; millennials actually view their workplace as a space where they can learn, grow, and excel. They want to leave better employees than they were when they arrived. Moreover, beyond a certain amount of monetary compensation, it seems money is no longer a deal breaker for potential hires. It’s growth.

There can be any number of reasons for why millennials think this way. Maybe they are products of their generation; thrown into unstable employment markets, promised job security if they only followed the right path. Maybe it's because they understand that they can become professionally irrelevant almost overnight and that honesty, curiosity, and purpose are requirements for measurable success.

Be what it may, there’s no way around it. Learning needs to be integrated into our work lives– one way or another.

WORK should be FOCUSED around LEARNING.

Building work focused around learning requires some serious, disruptive thinking. As a company (irrelevant of our core commercial product), our solution was to develop the concept of Chapterships. Chapterships is Jolt’s unique approach to hiring and leveraging its top talent.

The gist of it is simple: We invest a significant percentage of our payroll into developing our employees. As soon as a new team member joins, we work to understand their particular goals and aspirations. We then help them build a Personal Growth Plan, or PGP for short, to ensure that their two years at Jolt will develop them as much as possible. Then an employee success manager, who has access to all of our resources, invests in executing that plan.

There couldn't be a better investment than that.

Overdosing your team with perks in an attempt to prevent them from outgrowing your company is futile. Co-founders leave. Employees leave. People naturally want to move on. And perks, well, perks are not the answer. They’re merely a way to increase one (wrong) metric: employee retention.

Instead of finding ways to make employees better, HR departments obsess over keeping them around. Optimizing for keeping people in place– instead of pushing them forward, is a safe way to create companies full of zombies eviscerated of all creativity.

we want to LEAve A MARK, not a dent.

It’s comical to think about how often entrepreneurs mention they want to ‘leave a mark,’ or ‘make a dent in the universe,’ and fail to see how little of an impact they leave on the team who trusts and follows them. Might changing the world actually begin by something as simple as empowering the people around you?

If you’re a CEO, or an HR professional, consider not wasting your company’s valuable funds on nonsense. Spend it differently. Replace perks with employee development programs. Offer team classes instead of team parties. Lunch & learns, instead of happy hours. Millennial employees deserve, and are often looking for, self-development opportunities. While only a few would refuse free beer and yoga classes– does that really correlate with the motivation and aspirations of your team?

And most importantly, is that the mark you want to leave on them?

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by Roei Deutsch

Jolt's CEO has founded and sold his first company at the age of 15 and by the age of 18, Served as new-media consultant for a number of media corporations, including Fox International Channels and others. He also served as the CEO of Veribo and led the rise of one of the most prominent Israeli political party today through digital campaigns in the last two election cycles.