Just before I started at Nimble a little more than a year ago, our Chief Executive Suresh Vasudevan told me, “The hardest and most important thing to get right in a hyper-growth tech company is the culture.” I’ve spent nearly 30 years in human resources – many of them at high-tech companies – and I couldn’t agree more. Our strategies to build and maintain Nimble’s culture are rooted in engaging with employees, listening to what they tell us, and acting on what we hear.

Their opinions are the most important measure of whether, as managers, we’re getting things right. That’s why we’re especially pleased to have been named one of the Bay Area News Group’s Top Workplaces in the Bay Area, an honor based solely on the results of independent employee surveys.

Employee responses placed us at no. 7 among the mid-sized companies surveyed, and resulted in Suresh being named outstanding leader in the category. We’re grateful to the employees who made it possible.

We’re also proud that this is the second year in a row that we’ve placed in the top 10. (Last year, we ranked ninth). Here’s a sampling of comments from our employees; they get at the very core of what makes Nimble a great place to work.

“I feel appreciated, respected and enabled to perform at a high level.”

“It’s exciting to disrupt everybody else in storage.”

“My opinions are heard and implemented. I love the people I work with.”

So it turns out that contrary to all the press about Silicon Valley’s lavish perks, what gets employees excited about getting up in the morning is not gourmet meals or Olympic-sized swimming pools. It truly is the work they do, the people they work with, and the culture they work in.

Employees want work that has meaning, and they want their contributions to be valued. Top talent comes to Nimble because it is radically changing the storage business; they stay because they are what make radical change possible.

A culture like ours is only possible if managers become expert listeners. Listening is so important to our culture we’ve made it a core company value. But listening, alone, isn’t enough: We must act on what we hear.

As an example, Nimble’s time-off policy was arrived at after a lengthy dialogue. We learned through one of our regular focus groups, that employees were dissatisfied with the existing policy. We believed a viable solution was unlimited time off – the latest Valley fad. We quickly learned that employees and managers intensely disliked this approach.

So, we stopped to consider our original objectives. We wanted employees to have appropriate time to rest and relax, and to offer them a sense of security at those times when they feel the most vulnerable; for example, when they’re coping with health issues. Our new time-off policy – 15 days of paid personal time off, up to three months of fully paid sick leave, and 19 company paid holidays (which allows for two, week-long all-company “holidays” each year) – is the direct result of their feedback. We think it’s the best in Silicon Valley.

Our work is never done. As Suresh noted, culture is hard to maintain when companies are growing as fast as Nimble is. We’ll continue to trust our employees to guide us toward decisions and policies that keep Nimble a great place to work.