Chances are pretty good that the city in which you live has some sort of “Best Places to Work” Award. Mine does.
Perhaps your company ponied up the $$ and applied for one of these awards; if you work in HR chances are you managed the entry including gathering reams of data and forcing (disguised as encouragement) your employees to complete surveys.
Maybe you work for a company that has received this designation. In that case the following happened:
- Your PR team wrote press releases. Lots of press releases.
- Your senior executives bought a table (or two) at the awards luncheon.
- Your CEO was interviewed by a local business publication and spouted clichés such as “our employees are our most important asset,”and “we’re a very transparent organization with a high-level of trust.”
- You held a company all-hands meeting, party or pub crawl (if you’re ‘fun’) to “celebrate.”
- Your Marketing and HR teams plastered the logo on every available page of the company website and incorporated “BPTW!” verbiage in every single piece of candidate collateral and messaging. (“This will ensure we win the war on talent!”exclaimed more than one hapless and/or clueless recruiter, hiring manager or senior leader.)
As did the other 50 recipients in your city who also won the award.
And pretty much everyone involved, let’s be frank, realizes this is a ginormous crock of crap. Winning an award as a “Great Place to Work” or “Top City Employer” or whatever other moniker is being used by the money-making entity that bestows these awards has zero validity as PROOF of a great employment experience.
What I would like to do is invert the whole thing and present “Worst Places to Work” awards. Imagine this: instead of the same-old-companies-you-can-name in your city there was a fresh new list – every year – telling you the places NO ONE would conceivably want to work? Companies with harsh working conditions, below-market pay, oppressive rules, shitty work/life balance, and HR policies seemingly held over from 1955 would be called out. In addition to gathering current (and former!) employee feedback, the survey organizers could comb through court filings and EEOC or state civil rights complaints for data points.
Naturally, companies won’t shell out bucks to pay for something that puts them on the naughty list; we’ll have to find a means to get this monetized but I think it’s a winning proposition.
Publish THIS list in the local newspaper and, if nothing else, we might finally get some companies and leaders to change their ways.
Right now, as you’re reading this, people around the world are sitting in their offices. They have a desk, chair, phone and a computer with a monitor. Maybe two monitors if they either work in IT or are sufficiently high enough on the corporate food chain to get the requisition approved that uses valuable budget dollars to appropriate a second monitor.
The lucky ones have a cup of coffee, a can of Diet Coke or a packet of M&Ms within arm’s reach. Not everyone is afforded that luxury however; there are plenty of workplaces that don’t allow the worker bees to have any beverage or food at their desks. I’ve heard tales from one company in the UK that maintains such a policy although they do permit each employee to have a 500ml bottle of water. With an eye towards an aesthetically pleasing uniformity, all the bottles match.
Closer to home I’ve had conversations with numerous folks who are confined to a desk or cubicle with no ability to keep sustenance close at hand. The general corporate blather, usually passed on from HR, is (a) “we want you to relax and take a well-deserved break at lunch!” (wellness blah blah blah) or (b) “we want the facility to look nice when clients come to visit.” (even though no clients ever actually do come to visit).
I also continue to talk with an alarming number of people who, while perfectly content to head to the break room to grab an energy bar during the mid-afternoon slump, are rarely even afforded that opportunity. There are employees (start time 8 AM!) whose log-in at their workstation is immediately viewable by the department manager; they best be logged-in and ready to roll by 7:59 AM or discipline shall ensue!
- Have to void your bladder? Sorry; you need to wait until break time at 10:15 AM.
- Need to get to your doctor’s office by 4:30 PM because they close at 5 PM? Sorry; you’re expected to be at your desk until 4:30 PM. Unless you request and are approved for a full day of PTO you’re not going to be able to make that happen.
- You want to take call from your kids when they get home safely from school in the afternoon? Sorry; no cell phone use is allowed at your desk. We require you to drop your phone off in the morning and you can retrieve it during breaks or at lunch time. (note: I wrote about a company doing this in 2013; 5 years later and I recently heard of a manager who is contemplating instituting this practice)
- Christmas Eve and all of the customers, partners and 3rd party vendors you work with are off the grid? Sorry; this is not an official Holiday so you’re expected to be at your desk until the office closes at 5 PM. No; we will not be closing early.
- What’s that you say? You can get your work done at home? You have a phone and an internet connection? Sorry; we don’t allow anyone to work from home and all employees must report to the office by 8 AM.
Welcome to Ass in Chair, Inc.