January 2011 20
While you were busy surprising the technology world with the announcement of your resignation, surprising the technology world with the announcement of your temporary leave, or surprising…meh, probably not really anyone with the announcement of your retirement, here’s what was happening in the world of workforce management this week…
- Call These Companies ‘Frosted Flakes,’ Because They’re Grrrrreat! FORTUNE magazine released its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Prepare to not be shocked. (FORTUNE)
- No Pressure at All on Obama’s New Hire Putting the future of job creation more or less in the hands of one man, President Obama has appointed GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair the new “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” (MSNBC)
- Employees in Virginia Apparently Free to Act as Ridiculous as They Want Virginia’s Supreme court ruled that a restaurant worker was entitled to worker’s comp after being injured during on-the-job horseplay, thanks to the, um, “horseplay doctrine.” (Workforce)
- Just Like the Poltergeist (But Way Less Scary), Workplace Perks Are Baaaaack Rather than survival, more companies are switching their focus to employee satisfaction and retention these days, bringing back perks they might’ve cut during the recession. (Star Tribune)
- The Office File Cabinet Isn’t Just For Files You’ll Never Revisit Again The NYPD recently released a study that found that the office file cabinet was the best place for workers to hide should someone ever walk in and start shooting a gun. (New York Post)
- Dress Codes Get Workers’ Panties in a Twist After inciting controversy over what some say is an overly strict workplace dress code, Swiss banking giant UBS AG announced plans this week to revise its current 44-page dress code to be less micro-managey.(MSNBC)
- Another Product of the Recession: Pay-For-Performance Models Last week it was GM, now even more companies are adopting the pay-for-performance model. (Advertising Age) And finally...
Yesterday, FORTUNE released its annual list of the Best Companies to Work For.
Simply looking at the profiles FORTUNE provides for each company, which includes such big names as Google, Whole Foods Market and Goldman Sachs, you might be thinking, Well, sure, if my company had an annual revenue of $23.6 billion, we could afford to give our employees on-site dry-cleaning and free gourmet lunches, too. But it's important to remember that the perks FORTUNE highlights in its profiles of these companies are just that – perks.
Sure, things like Google's free laundry services, Zappos' no-charge vending machines, or the state-of-the-art gym at SAS are nice - very nice, in fact - but those things don’t even scratch the surface of what makes these companies great workplaces. In other words, it's not the benefits themselves, but rather the implication that employees and their work are valued that keep employees happy, engaged and productive.
Building a Great Workplace: Think 'How,' Not 'What'
Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin, researchers at the company behind FORTUNE's list, The Great Place to Work® Institute, to discuss what differentiates great places to work from other companies.
As they note in the opening pages of the new book they co-authored, The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters, when it comes to creating a great place to work, "it's not what you do, but how you do it." And these companies execute their employee benefits in such a way that says, “We value you.”
It should also be noted that these companies don’t treat their employees well because they can simply afford to offer a bunch of perks, but they can afford to offer perks precisely because they treat their employees well.
“The research we’ve done on the business benefits are pretty clear and compelling that great workplaces just do better financially [than their competitors],” Burchell says.
Aside from the financial impact, however, Burchell notes that a lot of leaders simply believe creating a culture that recognizes and rewards employees for their hard work is just the right thing to do. The fact that it happens to be good for the bottom line, too?
Well, that’s just a perk.
FORTUNE's Best Companies to Work For 2011: Top 10
Get a peek at what makes these places so great...or check out the entire list here:
- SAS: While perks like on-site healthcare, high quality childcare, summer camp for kids, car cleaning, a beauty salon, and access to a state-of-the-art, 66,000-square-foot gym are nice, the real reason employees stick around is because – as one manager told FORTUNE – “they feel regarded -- seen, attended to and cared for."
- Boston Consulting Group: Employees here have the chance to work with the U.N. World Food Program and Save the Children through the company’s Social Impact Practice Network (SIPN), contributing to a larger community effort.
- Google In addition to recognition from executive leadership (Google employees recently received a surprise 10 percent pay hike and $1,000 bonus for their service), peer recognition is also emphasized here: Googlers can award one another $175 peer spot bonuses.
Last week I got the chance to speak with John Wells, writer and director of “The Company Men” for our sister site, TheWorkBuzz.com. The film, which dissects the effects of layoffs on those who experience them, stars Academy Award winners Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones, and hits theaters today.
Though “The Company Men” takes the most in-depth look at the psychological and existential effects that job loss has on workers, it also touches on the legal, ethical and emotional struggles experienced by the executives and human resources staff who make the decisions on “who stays and who goes.” An aspect of the film Wells decided to include after speaking with human resources executives (and one that can be seen in the below clip).
“I sort of feel like my first version of [the script was] more like a creed against corporate America and that that wasn’t very fair and probably not balanced, so I went back and interviewed a lot of CEOs and human resources executives, and people were very willing to talk to me,” Wells told TheWorkBuzz.
Missing out on the opportunity to catch up on the always-entertaining-for-one-reason-or-another The View, 72 percent of workers go to work when they are sick, according to a new survey released today by CareerBuilder. Evidently, "presenteeism" and workplace pressures outweigh the desire to see the ridiculous charming banter between Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Whoopi Goldberg, as more than half of those workers (55 percent) say they feel guilty if they call in sick.
(Side note: I can’t help but notice that this 72 percent overlaps slightly with the 29 percent of workers who admitted they have faked an excuse to call in sick in a previous CareerBuilder survey. I’d love to get a peek inside the minds of those who show no remorse at calling in sick when they aren’t, but just don’t feel right about it when they are.)
While I understand feeling too guilty to take a sick day, is there no shame when it comes to putting your co-workers at risk of getting sick? (Did anyone else not see Outbreak?!) More than half of workers surveyed (53 percent) said they have gotten sick from a co-worker who came to the office sick.
According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, it’s important for employees to stay home if they aren’t feeling well - for the sake of their health and everyone else's. It's also in managers' best interest to promote the health of their employees in order to maintain productivity.
Add this to the list of terms that have become nothing more than meaningless business jargon: Workplace attire. After all, when considering the following workplace stories, it’s hard to say what even constitutes appropriate “workplace attire” anymore…
First, there’s Esquire magazine recently naming Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg its ‘Worst Dressed Celebrity.’ While I’m confident the billionaire isn’t losing any sleep over the title, there is a bigger implication here: ‘Dressing for the job you want ’ evidently no longer applies in the business world. After all, if someone can reach Zuckerberg’s scale of success without so much as having to ever step foot into a Brooks Brothers, why bother ever changing out of your pajama jeans? Does Zuckerberg represent the new executive style – and the death of professional attire as we know it?
For those who are alarmed by this notion, rest assured that there are still some employers that will go to any – however uncomfortable – lengths to preserve the good name of businesswear. Consider the following stories...
No Red Undies and No Garlic – After generating ridicule for a 44-page dress code – in which employees are instructed to avoid eating garlic for fresher-smelling breath and wear only nude-colored underwear, among other advice – Swiss bank UBS recently announced that it would revise the existing code. While the new code is said to be less micro-manage-y, UBS maintains that a code is important to uphold “the perfect look” of the staffs at its banks.
Bosses Get the Final Say on Bras – Arguing that “being told to wear a bra and keep fingernails to shorter than half-a-centimetre does not impinge on personal rights,” a German court ruled recently that employers in Cologne have the right to make certain demands on workplace dress – including asking female workers to wear bras and male workers to trim their beards.
Aside from wondering which poor intern would have the unfortunate duty of ensuring employees keep within these standards (“Pull down your pants a bit. I just need to see the color of your skivvies…okay, now let me smell your breath…”), I also can’t help but think…are all of these rules really necessary?
Sure, I understand the need and the expectation for employees in certain roles and industries to look presentable...but if you’ve hired them for that position, shouldn’t you already be able to trust that they can decide what is or isn’t appropriate attire?
What do you think? How much control should employers be able to have over their employees’ personal appearance?
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