Employee happiness is the key metric

At mobile application developer Pinger, workplace culture has been critical to success.

In 2021, employees quit their jobs in record numbers. While the causes of these resignations are varied, a 2022 report from the MIT Sloan Management Review suggests that workplace culture is a deciding factor in employee retention. As many employers scramble to revamp their ethos and values to retain talent, San Jose–based communications-app provider Pinger continues to foster the innovative workplace dynamic that has proven successful for more than 17 years.

In 2005, CEO Greg Woock founded Pinger on the principles of respect, accountability, transparency, cooperation, simplicity, and fun. These same values remain central to Pinger’s success and help make the company a place where employees love to work year after year. Woock believes intentionality is key to replicating Pinger’s success. “You always end up with a culture,” he says, “but it may not be one you like unless you have a plan.”

Woock has deliberately created solutions, such as flexible work options, which contribute to company-wide morale. While the pandemic forced many companies to accelerate conversations around remote work, flexible and hybrid work models had been standard at Pinger for years. "People need flexibility, and the good news is that we’ve had it from the beginning,” says Woock. “That’s helped us recruit and retain great people.”

Pinger has been ahead of the curve on several other innovative employee benefits. From fully paid medical insurance to generous wellness stipends, Woock firmly believes that making employees feel valued and appreciated will help the company succeed long-term. “We look for every opportunity we can to try to do the right thing for our people,” he says, “typically, that ends up being the right thing for the company, too.”

Another crucial part of building a successful culture, Woock notes, is making sure that employees feel like the company is on their side. He highlights a firm “no jerks” management style which dictates respect and accountability for all employees. “Everybody makes mistakes,” he says, “but if you’re a jerk, I’ll walk you out the door—it’s happened before.” The company also makes every effort to ensure employees are completely satisfied with their compensations. Pinger conducts biannual market surveys to be sure that salaries remain competitive. “Instead of waiting for an annual review, we adjust compensation when it’s called for, Woock says. “The cost of disappointing somebody who feels underpaid and consequently leaves the company is higher than the cost of accommodating them so that they feel valued.”

These initiatives are proving successful. While other companies struggle to recruit and retain talent, Woock notes that employees at Pinger want to stay with the company. “Our employee retention is very strong,” he says. “Over half of my direct staff has been with me for more than a decade.” 

While benefits and competitive salaries are important, Woock notes that the foundation of Pinger’s success is based on listening to employees. This helps to proactively create a culture that keeps them happy and helps them do their best work. “If you take care of people, if you’re kind to them, and if you give them a great place to work where they feel fulfilled, they’ll stick around, which will only help your company thrive. So why not do that?”