• http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

    Instead of controlling the message, employers should fix the problem. The ‘entitled’ millennial generation grew up with the internet and the free flow of information. As a generation, I find their BS detectors much more sensitive than any other generation’s. As a result, I don’t think turning existing employees into ambassadors for the company necessarily will matter that much, especially if it comes through some kind of official channel. The trust afforded to that message will be next to nothing.

    Employees do not need to be more engaged. The problem is they are too engaged. There’s 168 hours in a week, of which 56 is hopefully being used for sleep. That equals 112 waking hours, of which employees will work a minimum of 8 directly. Assume an hour break, an hour for getting ready for, and commuting to and from work, and you’re at ten hours, which means 50 a week minimum, which is about 45% of their waking hours. Then factor in the ever present and advancing 60 hour work week, so in reality you’re looking at way more than half their lives spent working for their employer on a week to week, month to month basis. And the employers always want more, and always want to pay less, and they tend to get what they want.

    Now factor in an economic recession, and one of the lowest amounts of off time in the civilized world, plus factoring in that most vacations are ‘working vacations,’ which means not vacations at all, the question occurs: Just how much more engaged do employers need these people to be? Do employers deserve 65% of their lives? 75%? Perhaps 100%, only allowing them to sleep?

    Here is how you increase employee satisfaction and engagement. One, pay them a good wage for the work done, one they can live on. Two, give them vacation time at least on par with the rest of the developed world, and let them take it without having to check email every ten minutes. Three, manage them well and continuously. People are not rotisserie ovens, you can’t set and forget them. You need to monitor them, develop them, when their productivity increases, as does the revenue they generate for you, then their salaries should increase commensurately, not a paltry 1% or 2% if they’re ‘lucky.’. And four, stop working them to burnout and then replacing them with a drawn out, six month hiring process while the former employee sits on unemployment wondering what the hell happened. Doing all this might require taking a .025% cut in the profit margin though, so it won’t happen.

    I always tend to look at things from a manufacturing perspective. And in this case employers are manufacturers of employment opportunities. They’re product sucks ass overall in the opinions of most people, and rather than improve their product, they’re stuck in a loop wondering how in the world their consumers – their current and potential employees – can’t see the absolute unadulterated genius of their product offering. Other than Apple, pretty much every manufacturer that’s taken this approach has eventually gone out of business. I predict the same for modern corporations. They are dinosaurs thrashing in the tar pits of the reality that they are losing control and will never get it back. The ones who evolve will survive. My guess is most won’t, and will ride their 19th century factory worker management techniques straight into their graves.

    • Hatim Baheranwala

      Completely agree with you Medieval Recruiter.

      There was another interesting article on ere a couple of weeks (months?) back on how should companies try to tackle the brain drain to startups. If they are only going to fix the marketing and not the product itself (which often happens), don’t think this will change.

      Finally – I also feel that part of the problem is the nature of a large corporate itself. It is extremely difficult for 15 (100?) people sitting in an ivory tower (corporate HQ) to have a meaningful discussion about the direction of the company with an employee sitting 1000 miles away and 10 degrees below in the organisational hierarchy. Its through advantages like these that startups win.

      • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

        I don’t think the large corporate issue is really crux of it, though it can aggravate a situation. The base or root problem I see is employees are seen as a cost, disposable, and easily replaceable, when they aren’t any of those things. Employment is a mutual exchange, and at least on an ex ante basis, all mutual exchanges are profitable. Employees add revenue to companies, and vacancies cost companies revenue. Right now most accounting systems don’t approach employment this way; they are overhead, and when one leaves overhead goes down and as long as the company doesn’t implode it actually looks like savings. So of course, why not fire everyone and take overhead down to nothing?! It’s a ridiculous was of looking at employees, but it is the pervasive one in society today. And employers refuse to learn, from their own experience and complaints no less, that people aren’t so easily replaced.

        So it’s a stalemate; companies large and small think they are doing their employees a ‘favor’ by employing them, they think their employees ‘owe’ them something above and beyond the work product, for which the company is voluntarily paying them, which is simply moronic. They refuse to provide the job security and real salaries of years past, but still insist on the loyalty of a 30 year company veterans. They see people as disposable while demanding to be seen themselves as indispensable, despite being near clones of each other, and not offering much at all to distinguish themselves from one another, and not much in return for the presumed glory of sitting in one of their cubicles for 12 hours a day.

        I like the manufacturing analogy: as an employer you manufacture employment opportunities. The vast majority of your current and potential customers are telling you your product is sub par to absolutely horrific, and they really don’t want to buy it. But, since the economy sucks and rent and taxes need to be paid and kids have to eat, they’ll buy because they have to. And despite all the complaints almost no employers are really doing anything to change this, because getting what amounts to a defacto slave labor force is generally appealing to them because they don’t understand that the less ‘voluntary’ work becomes, that the more the nature of a person’s work goes from, “I want to be here,” to, ” I have to be here,” to, “If I’m not here me and my family might starve,” the less productive people get. Because they know they’re being screwed, whether deliberately or by circumstance, and they will do the minimum necessary because that’s all they’re getting in return: the minimum necessary.

        • Hatim Baheranwala

          That’s true – it’s not just the organization size but also the attitude towards the employees that needs to change.

          I guess what I was trying to bring out was that proximity to the final authority in a company (i.e. the board) also allows for a better employment ‘package’. The CEO gets his way because he is a phone call away to convince someone that its better to take a 0.001 dent in margins for a higher salary, and in turn the company will benefit from his/her performance. The average employee has no one to call – their managers & HR are not typically empowered to increase salaries. Contrast that to a startup where an Engineer having a bad time can usually speak to the CEO directly and get a salary increase (practically) the same day.

          Maybe I’m biased cause I left the corporate world for the startup space myself 🙂 But I feel the fundamental design (i.e. size & hierarchy) of corporates is as much a hindrance as their attitude.

          • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

            It could definitely be a hindrance, I just don’t think it’s the root cause. The root cause is the attitude toward employees, the structure just exacerbates that. If you have a start-up where key people have the same bad attitude, you get the same bad results.

          • Terence Verma

            As long as an Employer values his most important resource – the Employee, the structure won’t matter.

  • Keith D. Halperin

    Glad you’re writing more, Raghav. You’ve been sorely missed…
    Q: How to increase the number of your employee ProActivists?
    A: Don’t **** over your employees.
    It seems self-evident that those people you mentioned as being the likeliest to be ProActivists are those least likely to have been ****ed over in the course of their employment, and vice-versa.
    @ Medieval Recruiter: Well-said. For reasons such as you’ve mentioned, I advocate that employees “unlease their inner CEOs”: Grab as much money, benefits, power, training, connections, etc, as you possibly can while you’re at your current employer and then “get the hell outta Dodge” before it comes tumbling down around you. Loyalty = cash-flow, and unless you have a solid employment contract, you are expendable, so it’s best to go on YOUR terms, while the going is good…
    Few (if any) Cheers,

    • http://www.medievalrecruiter.com/ Medieval Recruiter

      Exactly. You can’t received loyalty without giving as much yourself, and there isn’t a single company on this planet I’d say is truly ‘loyal’ to their employees. With fewer and fewer exceptions, companies will not take a stagnant, or worse, lower profit margin and/or total revenue in order to be loyal to their employees by say, maintaining benefits despite a higher cost, or maintaining, much less increasing, salaries and/or total comp despite a real or perceived labor surplus, or increasing work hours flexibility, etc. The corporate model is to constantly cut costs and try and get more and more for less and less, and employees, and basically everything employees want, are viewed as a cost.

      I’d also go further and say that employers with the biggest brand gaps, that is the biggest difference between what they sell as the experience of working for them as opposed to the reality of working for them, will experience the biggest blow back from trying to create ambassadors.

      The extraordinarily simple bottom line is, if you treat people well and pay them well, generally they think well of you, and have no problem telling others that. To the end of creating ambassadors, employers need to skip the lip service and move toward achieving the reality first. Otherwise they have nothing up their sleeves and in this day and age, it’s not hard to find that out.

      I recall one experience where varying schedules were proposed as a way of accommodating employees and making the work life balance better for them. Some people had kids to drop off or pick up at school, longer commutes, etc. The managers involved all agreed there would be no impact on business at the time. Other than the time spent determining schedules and entering them into the payroll system, there was nothing needed in terms of cost or investment. The owner of the company flipped out and outright refused to do it, for no reason other than the outright stated fact that he didn’t want to “give” anything away.

      One manager, who had worked for the company for decades and who was in good stead with the owner, went and did it anyway. A year or so later his department’s performance had improved, morale had improved, people were actually happy, which was an anomaly at this company. The owner flat out said he screwed up when presented with this information. However, a month or so later when again presented with the opportunity to do it for the whole company, he flipped out and started screaming about “giving things away” again.

      This is corporate reality in the US. Until recruiting and HR leaders face that, most engagement talk is pie in the sky nonsense.