Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Great Job = Discount on a Membership at Costco

My previous employer, the one that sounds like a radio station (rhymes w/ "MG"), made a lot of noise of being an "Employer of Choice". This pretty much entailed giving unique benefits like discounts on big box store memberships or allowing employees to cut out of work at three on Fridays during the summer (as client demands would allow, which basically meant that no one that was working for a client would leave early).

The Radio Station was OBSESSED with being the best Final BIG 4 firm. The general idea was to create the perception that people loved working there because of all these great "perks". I suppose if you removed the providing of professional services aspect from the business model, then it could possibly work that way.

As you might expect, these initiatives basically did not apply to the majority of the professionals working there. Turns out, this is NOT the strategy a professional services company should employ when they want to be the "best" according to a CFO magazine article that came out today that centers around a speech given by a human resources professor from Rutgers. Read here.

The nail is hit on the head with these two paragraphs (emphasis mine):

"HR wants to treat most employees the same way, and they spend considerable time trying to defend or fix poor performers, taking on the St. Bernard role," [Professor Beatty] said. "Low turnover isn't necessarily a good thing. Think about where you might want to disinvest."

Human resources is also behind what Beatty called the "silly" idea that a company should try to be the "employer of choice." If you are the employer of choice, he asked rhetorically, who's going to be applying for your jobs? "Everybody and their dog's brother," he said. "You want people who are excited, enthused, and understand how to contribute to what you do, as opposed to those who simply want to find a good place to hide out."

This pretty much sums up the experience that I had working at this "great place to work". It was fairly obvious that many of the people at this firm were not the "best" as I and many of my colleagues would define them. I don't have an ivy league degree or anything but if you find yourself constantly explaining simple analyses performed to your supervising manager, you might conclude that you may be working for someone far less intelligent than yourself.

Furthermore, the individuals that were often the most intelligent and able to contribute constructively were looked upon as people who weren't willing to tow the company line and that made noise when obvious mismanagement was occurring or incorrect procedures were being applied. It was fairly clear that the management group wanted sheep in the firm that wouldn't question the status quo and would simply follow orders. As I recall, there was quite a bit of that going on at Nuremberg... Sphere: Related Content

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