Basecamp cofounder and CEO Jason Fried.
At least 18 Basecamp employees have resigned after the company made sweeping policy changes. It barred politics, cut benefits and ended committees, which sends a negative signal, experts say. Basecamp’s move reflects the cofounders’ resistance to dissent, an employee told Insider. See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The tech industry is well known for its abundant perks – laundry service, fitness rooms, and an abundance of snacks – geared toward supporting employees’ full lives, even outside of work.
Basecamp’s recent policy changes, including a ban on political discussions and the end of wellness and education allowances, go against the grain. The aftermath of Basecamp’s announcement bears that out: Roughly a third of the company’s 58 employees have decided to leave after the cofounders offered severance packages to those who disagreed with the changes, a source told Insider. At least 18 of them have announced their departure on Twitter.
The company is striving to separate work from personal life, in part to avoid a clash of dissenting opinions, according to writings from Basecamp’s cofounders and statements from employees, including one who spoke with Insider. But it’s a move that’s risky, experts told Insider, as employees grow accustomed to having a bigger say in the culture of their workplaces.
On Monday, Basecamp cofounder and CEO Jason Fried announced that the productivity software company was making a series of sweeping changes to its workplace policies. In addition to banning “societal and political discussions” at work and ending “paternalistic benefits” like wellness perks, the company disbanded its workplace committees and ended 360 reviews, in which employees receive evaluations from peers and subordinates in addition to their bosses. The changes unleashed a torrent of criticism on social media, including from Basecamp employees.
Though the decision to bar political talk closely resembled Coinbase’s ban on discussing social issues, the end of wellness benefits has less of a precedent. Most tech companies are adding such benefits, said Christina Sullivan, principal and vice president at Sequoia Consulting Group,