Morning Ed: Labor {2017.10.16.M}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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27 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    [Lb1]: This is pretty obvious. How about ways to implement the ideas they mentioned?

    [Lb4] So many companies need to do this. But it’s also the employee’s job to figure out if they are working at a company that can’t or won’t do this-and that’s a lot of them.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

      You think a consultant is going to give that away for free in a blog post? No, that takes a big contract, so they can show you the same PowerPoint slides they show everyone.Report

      • Damon in reply to Michael Cain says:


        Had my experience with that on fulfillment systems. “Oh, this is the basic program. You want a customized report that it currently doesn’t do? I’ll need 100k”.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

          My introduction to high-priced business consultants was when I got a phone call from my boss where he said roughly: “Mike, the new SVP has hired a consulting team to prepare a business plan for voice-over-IP. Your job for the next month is to teach the consultants what voice-over-IP is, and how it works.”Report

          • Richard Hershberger in reply to Michael Cain says:

            You forgot “and brush up your resume.” Back when I worked for the sort of company that might bring in this sort of consultant, I always understood the arrival of consultants to be a sign to start job hunting, because things were likely to go down the crapper soon.Report

            • Bob and Bob, from Office Space.Report

            • Didn’t have to, as the giant corporation split fairly soon after that. I had a chance to choose which side I went with. I chose based on the management stack that I would report to, which included the new CEO who had fired the aforementioned SVP on day one.

              The industry was consolidating and it was inevitable that I would eventually wind up on the wrong side of an acquisition. I didn’t get the kind of buyout that CEO arranged for his direct reports, but was treated well enough that I could do different things when I got kicked out. Which is, indirectly, how I wound up writing comments (and the occasional post) here.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

              And the smartest do some discreet social engineering on the consultants to see if there’s a job thereReport

    • fillyjonk in reply to Damon says:

      LB1 seems “obvious” but honestly? If there’s dysfunction in my workplace, or if I’m constantly being told to do Joe Blow’s tasks in addition to my own, or there’s that one person who makes everyone miserable, handing me movie tickets is going to do fish-all for my morale.

      Give workers a reasonable salary, reasonable benefits, don’t be an ass about time-off or sick-day policies, apply the rules fairly (no double standards where someone in the upper echelons gets away with HR violations) and we won’t NEED stinking movie tickets or stupid perks like that.

      We had a history where I work of a few people who committed HR violations (or what could be seen as such) but because they were highly placed, no one did anything. One guy was a serial harasser and also borderline-assaulted a colleague of mine.Report

      • Jason in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Had a guy like that at my institution. Years of complaints and no department chairs took action. Last fall, he tazed his ex-wife and took their daughter to Mexico, in the middle of the semester.
        When they committee formed to dismiss him–over job abandonment, as he hadn’t been convicted yet–many people came forward with complaints, but he had the obvious defense of “why now?” Maybe it’s specific to academia and department chairs who just want everyone to get along–I don’t know.Report

      • Damon in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Yeah agreed. That stuff doesn’t make things better, you have to have a minimum level of non shittiness. It’s more like cup cake icing. Nice but not absolutely needed.Report

  2. Brandon Berg says:

    Lb2: I only spent like five minutes researching it, but if you can’t avoid it, this might be useful for mitigation.Report

  3. Marchmaine says:

    Lb1 and Lb4 are the same article; I think the unstated premise is not *retaining* workers, but *not* retaining workers.

    These are articles about not becoming attached to your workforce, and embracing liquid employment. Dressing it up as worker satisfaction is purely conscience salve for employers and grease for employees.

    One of our core values is “excel and improve,” so we seek out candidates who embrace continual improvement and have demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning.

    Those aren’t core values; those aren’t even measurable metrics; they an exhortation to replace your workforce…often – but on a rolling basis… like sports teams with their farm systems

    This situation occurs frequently in professional sports. The structure of a team shifts, and a longtime player no longer fits the mold of the new organization or the system of a new coach. Both the player and the coaches recognize the change in fit, the player leaves for a new team, the organization moves in a different direction, and everyone is amicable about the changes.

    Liquid employment.

    Which is why I’m all in favor of new labor movements… and then you read Lb3 and realize we only have old labor movements.Report

  4. Richard Hershberger says:

    Lb1: This post manages the neat trick of being simultaneously banal and incoherent.

    It makes a distinction between voluntary turnover, “when employees choose to leave the organization for professional or personal reasons,” and dysfunction turnover, “when top performers leave the organization because of job-related reasons.” Voluntary turnover can, we are told, be reduced by programs “to engage its employees and reduce dissatisfaction.” Employee dissatisfaction isn’t a sign of dysfunction? The distinction may be useful, separating “I am leaving because my spouse just got a job on the other side of the country” and “I am leaving because this place is a hell hole,” but the article is confused about what it is distinguishing.

    Then we come to “reward systems”: “I am not exclusively talking about compensation. Any type of reward can be used, for example, recognition programs, flextime, movie tickets, stocks, etc.” Huh? Stocks are compensation? For that matter, movie tickets are compensation: they just are crappy compensation. I am guessing that the movie tickets will be more popular with management. I also am guessing that the employees rewarded this way will know the difference.

    The n-dimensional chess explanation for this post is that it is an advertisement for consulting services cleverly designed to ensure that it only appeals to dumb people, who are easier to fleece.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Stocks are not compensation?Report

    • It’s like Valentine’s Day: If my (hypothetical, at this point) Significant Other is a decent guy the rest of the year, and he just gets me a card (or even not anything), it’s cool, because he’s a decent guy.

      If he’s kind of a jerk some of the time, he might think a fancy necklace or a spa trip will make it up to me. It really WON’T, and that’s the point.

      If a workplace is treating its employees okay, it doesn’t need to give them movie tickets or “recognition programs” or the like. If they’re not, no amount of “goodies” will make up for the horror people feel going into a dysfunctional workplace every day.

      The problem is: it’s easier to get a block of movie tickets at a discount, hand them out, call yourself a Good Boss, than it is to actually work on the things that are causing employee burnout.Report

      • Damon in reply to fillyjonk says:


        And it’s even worse if, say, the company is doing poorly and they start scaling back on those “treats”: like bagel day, discounted soda in the machines, summer picnic, etc. Then it just seems like a double down.Report

      • If a workplace is treating its employees okay, it doesn’t need to give them movie tickets or “recognition programs” or the like.

        Kind of a tangent, but I tend not to like “recognition programs.” Whenever I won “employee of the month” or “employee of the year,” I’ve been grateful for the honor. But it feels REALLY awkward. One company I worked for took us out to lunch to a local restaurant of our choice when we won. It’s very weird having lunch with your bosses.

        I realize that’s a nice thing to have to complain about. And the company in question treated us pretty good overall, so it wasn’t a case of treating people poorly but trying to make up for it.Report

        • The last big company I worked for had one recognition program that I liked. The only way to get it was to be nominated by one of your peers, who had to provide their own write-up about why they were nominating you. It came with a little lucite dust catcher for your desk. Most of the rest of my recognition stuff has long since been disposed of, but after a bit over ten years I still have the (anonymous) write-ups from those peer awards tucked away.Report

          • Damon in reply to Michael Cain says:

            On the downside of “recognition programs”…..

            A former employer had a program…actually we had two. One for the operating company and one for the corporate owner. I think the one I recall was the operation company’s one: An email went out to everyone, you got a “gold start” and your choice from a “basket’ of stuff: Travel mugs, 1/2 day off, other doo dads–think marketing cast offs. What offended me was the “gold star”. You were actually expected to put it on your cube wall or office.

            Really F’in not kidding. The staff basically said “what are we, kindergartners?Report

            • El Muneco in reply to Damon says:

              I got a gold star paperweight from my first employer for my Ten Year (Five Year was a lapel pin). There was a bonus, too, but I was still “Man, that freaking says it all, don’t it?”Report

        • Troublesome Frog in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

          My wife’s employer, which is dysfunctional in many, many ways does do the “recognition” thing better than most. There’s a pool of “good job” awards that departments get every quarter. Managers approve them. Employees or managers can nominate. It’s for doing a good thing. You don’t get public recognition or a certificate. You get a $25 or $50 AmEx prepaid card and a note that when you did X, it was appreciated.

          That thing may have taken you two hours to do, in which case it’s not exactly great compensation, but it’s dollars you can spend anywhere, and the minimum amount is still like finding $20 in a pair of pants. And being called out for a specific thing is usually better than some nebulous Employee of the Month award. It avoids the, “I worked late to help them hit their deadline and nobody said anything,” problem.Report

    • Turnip in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Ha, my workplace gives out movie tickets for when you go above and beyond…I now have dozens of movie tickets stashed in my drawer. Because when you’re going above and beyond, do you know what you don’t have a lot of? Free time to go to the movies.

      Just come to my cube one day when the weather’s lovely and say “hey, if you go home now, will anyone die? No? Go enjoy the afternoon on us, then.” It’s not like I’m going to get any less work done at the end of the week, but getting to f*** off guilt-free, with permission? Find out what energizes your employee and do THAT.Report

  5. Oscar Gordon says:

    Lb3 – That blurb doesn’t do the article justice. Also, the PCA union issue has been a sketchy mess in multiple states, with lots of complaints over fraud or just simple dishonestyReport

  6. El Muneco says:

    BTW – my thanks to the editors for the Tax Day reminder. I had googled what turned out to be the 2016 IRS warning page and thought it was the 17th…Report