As a satiric show, Israeli Channel 12’s Eretz Nehederet makes a mockery of anything and everything related to Israel, but by doing so, sheds light on many different aspects of the country’s community and culture. More often than not, those aspects need dire attention, so the awareness Eretz Nehederet brings may garner change.
During its new season, the comedy show released a weekly sketch series about the Israeli high-tech ecosystem. The sketches mock many real truths about the work culture in Israeli high-tech, even if they seem like cliches. Those who actually work in high-tech may laugh at what they see in the skits, but others, who just read or hear about the high-tech world from peers or the news, are getting a vivid image that the industry is all too hedonistic; it seems that the industry mainly cares about throwing marvellous company-wide parties and giving frivolous treats to company employees.
But what is high-tech life really all about?
Anyone who has ever founded or ran a start-up knows what a crazy roller-coaster ride it can be. You are constantly worrying if the company will meet its quarterly sales targets, if the money raised during funding rounds will suffice, or if you and your executive team will be successful in convincing investors, employees, or potential clients of your product’s importance, and in turn, gain their unwavering support.
Though these are just some of the more realistic daily worries of a startup, that is not the image most people have when they think of the Israeli high-tech world. Instead, many are focused on the perks high-tech employees get, whether it be the fancy company-wide winery tours, staff gifts that any other place of work would only dream of getting, and, of course, those glamorous vacations abroad.
The Israeli high-tech is at a crossroads. After a golden year of fundraising and exits, there is no guarantee that 2022 will see the same success. The high-tech industry is full of innovation, with ground-breaking technology that is changing our lives and our world for the better. But it isn't being perceived as such; instead, the high-tech world is seen as ostentatious, with a “show-off” culture where companies compete to offer the best perks to their employees. But is that truly who we are and how we want to be representing the industry? No, it isn’t - and we should be very careful to make sure we stop denoting it as such.
This past holiday season gave us time to reflect on 2021 and set realistic, yet ideal goals for 2022. One of these goals should be how to return to square one, to the roots and basic ideas that brought all of us to high-tech to begin with. Meaning, the way the high-tech sector tries to keep its employees or how it recruits new talent should not rely on expensive prime-time advertisements and lavish parties, but instead focus on the company’s idea or product itself; the core ethos of the company and true belief in its product should be enough to attract talent.
We work hard in high-tech to develop new, sophisticated, innovative, advanced, and useful products. This requires multidisciplinary thinking, collaboration, and high motivation to succeed. It requires strenuous hours and real commitment. Even then, when a startup may seem to have taken all the right steps, there is no guarantee for its success. However, as CEOs, COOs, and CTOs, we need to build an environment for our employees, both current and future, that focuses on the challenge at hand; one that focuses on the satisfaction we all get from undertaking challenges and solving them in the same token. This environment should be what attracts the right team to the field– not the amount of money a company spends on gifts or activities.
Serious companies and workers are looking for a work culture that is organized, promotes collaboration, remains professional and yet still has ‘good vibes’; a work environment that enables its employees to work together and contribute to the greater goal of the company in whichever way they can; to influence one another within, and above all, to learn, develop and succeed, both as a team and as individuals. And yes, proper compensation is also a part of that deal.
It is about time we stop wasting money on showy tactics and return to what attracted us into the high-tech world in the first place: our desire to solve real-world problems with innovative solutions. It is time that we start taking real care of our employees by providing them with the environment to truly help them grow their professional careers.
Written by Sharel Omer, CEO & Co-Founder at Affogata.