You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Cirrus Logic makes workers’ families part of the team


Jeff Alderson was already a 12-year chip industry veteran when he started working at Cirrus Logic five years ago.

Having worked at three other semiconductor companies, he thought he knew the drill.

“Chip companies can be kind of sterile places to work at sometimes,” Alderson said. “People can close their office doors and work at hard problems. They don’t want to interact with other people and engineers’ social skills aren’t really very high.”

But his thinking changed after he joined Cirrus. He noticed that employees ate lunch together, socialized together, even played cards together.

“The social aspect of people getting together and doing things is very different here,” said Alderson, who now leads a design team at the company. “That makes it a more fun place to work than other places I’ve been. And the quality of work done here is really good. I have worked on hard problems with a really good team.”

Cirrus makes specialized low-power chips, many of which are incorporated into smartphones, tablets and other portable devices. The company has rebuilt its business over the past seven years or so and part of revamping the company has included an effort to create a fun workplace that would help recruit and retain skilled employees.

The company, which employs about 650 in Austin, ranks second among large employers on the American-Statesman’s Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project.

“We wanted people to be proud of where they worked,” said CEO Jason Rhode, who helped push efforts to make work fun and to have include employees’ families in the celebration of its successes.

The company has three holiday parties a year and two of them are aimed at kids, complete with a “Santa Claus” and age-appropriate gifts.

“You get your Santa pictures done right there and you don’t have to schlep to the mall,” said Tom Strandwitz, an information technology program director at the company who has three sons aged seven to 12. “All of them are Cirrus kids. They know Jo-Dee Benson” and her staff.

Benson, among her other duties, is the company’s designated chief culture officer. One of her hobbies is knitting a personal cap for each baby born to a Cirrus family.

Cirrus has other special events, including Boo at the Zoo, a summer picnic at Schlitterbahn, a “Kids Club” that encourages employees children to so summer reading and even date nights, where the company coordinates couples activities including movies, cooking classes and trips to Esther’s Follies. The company also serves free ice cream to families that show up at work during the summer.

“Some kids don’t even know where their dads work,” Alderson said. “My kids know where I work and they like the company. They always want to come here in the summer and have free ice cream.”

Many of Cirrus’ family events are extensively planned, down to small details.

But some things are impromptu. One Valentine’s Day, Benson backed a spur-of-the moment effort to bring flowers and cards and other small gifts that workers could take home to their spouses.

It was called the Valentines Day Bailout and it has become a yearly event at the company.

Tom Strandwitz didn’t forget Valentines Day that year, but he told his wife Becky about the company effort that helped other workers.

“I was just blown away,” Becky Strandwitz said. “A lot of the things Cirrus does don’t necessarily benefit our family, but I think what they do is so incredibly delightful and cool.”

She appreciates the attention to detail that the company shows at family events, such as age-appropriate gifts at the Christmas party.

“It absolutely counts that the company cares,” she said. “I don’t think there is another company that does these kinds of things. It’s been a very special part of our lives and it really hooks you into the company from a family standpoint.”

Alderson says the company’s family events give his family and his wife a sense of connection to the company and the people he works with. “Families are a part of the larger team at Cirrus.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Navigating a remake of federal cybersecurity
Navigating a remake of federal cybersecurity

In 2007 on a featureless stretch of desert outside Kirkuk, Iraq, I stood with a young U.S. Army lieutenant trying to reconcile a crude, handheld GPS gadget with his laminated map. Ultimately, he failed. His interpreter asked a local for directions. Being lost was particularly frustrating because companies like Olathe-based Garmin sold easy-to-read...
Avideh Zakhor: The brains behind Google Earth and Street View
Avideh Zakhor: The brains behind Google Earth and Street View

BERKELEY, Calif. — For one of Silicon Valley’s most important inventions, we can thank Avideh Zakhor, creator of the technology that brought us Google Earth and Street View. Before there was Google Earth and Street View showing us around the world, there was Zakhor and her team driving a truck loaded with sensors around Berkeley and flying...
Lost for words? How to search online with your smartphone camera

On the hunt for new shoes? Racking your brain for a recipe idea? When you’re trying to find information, typing out words in a search bar is probably the first thought that comes to mind. Words can conjure up images and evoke emotions, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Now, companies including Pinterest, Amazon and...
DIY battery swap can bring new life to your old phone

After a few painful years of very cheap android phones, we finally gave my mother-in-law an old iPhone 5 that we were no longer using. I bought it new in 2012. I handed it down to my wife in 2014, and we handed it down to my mother-in-law last fall. The phone still has plenty of life left in it, although it will likely stop getting iOS updates when...
Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones
Several decisions to be made before selecting new headphones

Headphone season is in full force right now. If you’re about to make a new purchase, don’t get fooled with fancy marketing, colorful boxes or hype. Instead, consider these features when shopping around (the order of importance depends on you): wireless vs wired, earbuds vs over the ear, cost and sound quality (which would be No. 1 for me)...
More Stories