Your new employee starts today. Roll out the welcome mat. Balloons. Flowers. Cake. We love cake and red carpets. Now there’s word that a company out there is rolling out said red carpet for employees who are leaving. What gives? Who decided that deserters should have desserts? Okay, good manners says we serve cookies and lemonade and a quick handshake before sending them packing to their new workplace.
But for employees leaving Dreamworks Animation SKG, they’re big into celebrating. Dreamworks CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg says, “We try to be very generous when someone has an opportunity outside the company, because we usually want them back. It’s more important that there be a red carpet for valued people when they leave than when someone joins.”
There goes conventional wisdom leaping out the window. But Dreamworks is not your average corporate dinosaur. They’re a creative company that’s narrowly focused and fast on their feet. Not that we have anything against dinosaurs, but Dreamworks, 49th on the world best companies to work for, is able to react swiftly to changes due to its size. More creativity. Less bureaucracy. They’re the operation behind Monsters v. Aliens and other such works of dreams.
Such a company, with a huge stake in keeping its creative juices flowing, goes the extra 100 miles or so to keep its creative staff happy. Beyond perks – free DVDs, free food, ping-pong and poker during work hours – they have an environment that welcomes all ideas and failure is okay. Who in their right mind even mentions the possibility of failure nowadays?
Chances are Dreamworks attracts top notch talent not only because it’s a great place to work, but also because it remembers where talented people come from. In Katzenberg’s own words, “We have alumni from roughly a dozen art schools around the country. We send people back to lecture. We invite the teaching staff to see we’re doing, with the idea that their curriculum can be fitted to our needs. We partner with higher education so they’ll want to produce talent that’s valuable to us.” Now there’s an idea worth copying.