A Tiny Revolution
George Orwell | Word of the Moment: CFBR | Factoids | Elsewhen | Failing The Frontline
Quote of the Moment
Every joke is a tiny revolution.
| George Orwell
Word of the Moment: CFBR
Kalley Huang profiles the social media use of CFBR — commenting for better reach — which is growing because of layoffs:
Abbreviations including “LOL” and “ILY” are popular expressions used across the web, and these days chances are you have probably seen “CFBR,” which stands for “commenting for better reach” and appears regularly under posts on LinkedIn.
People comment “CFBR” on others’ posts to signal solidarity, and sometimes people ask commenters to write “CFBR” on their own posts to give them traction. The expression is becoming ubiquitous on LinkedIn as tech workers who have lost their jobs in recent months are turning to the platform to look for new opportunities.
A short comment from a stranger could mean hundreds more people see a post about layoffs and come across a jobseeker’s profile.
Last year, more than 161,000 people were laid off from technology companies and startups, according to Layoffs.fyi, a site that tracks job cuts. So far this year, more than 148,000 people have been laid off.
Over the past six months, as the tech sector has had its worst contraction since the dot-com bust in the early 2000s, the number of people who have turned on the “open to work” feature on LinkedIn has increased 20%, to 18 million, a spokesperson for the company said.
Stephan Meier, a professor at Columbia Business School, called commenting on a layoff post “a completely altruistic act,” especially if the commenter doesn’t know the poster. The activity around layoffs shows how much people rely on LinkedIn — and its algorithm — to network, he said.
Social media still retains some of its original promise.
In May 2020, 70% of Americans were doing their work virtually, but only 5% of Americans without a high school degree were telecommuting. | Edward Glaeser, who made this point in a piece arguing against the 15-minute city.
Walmart is looking to robots to help the company grow by more than $130B over the next five years, primarily by having the robots unload pallets and fulfill orders. While a smoother, more efficient supply chain theoretically could enable the company to increase high-margin revenue streams (e.g., advertising), provided that it also ensures a larger e-com customer base, it seems a lot more likely to “merely” save costs. | JP Caslin, Six S & One More
In New York City, where the median asking rent was $3,470 at the beginning of the year, a renter would have to earn at least $139,000 a year — almost twice the city’s median household income — to avoid being rent burdened. | Ronda Kaysen, Buying or Selling a Home? Welcome to the Year of Disappointment
An analysis of Gallup data by Harvard Business School’s Ashley Whillans found that the percentage of employed Americans reporting that they “never had enough time” rose from 70% in 2011 to 80% in 2018. | Adam Waytz, Beware a Culture of Busyness (I wrote about ‘time poverty’ in Fighting for Time on Sunsama’s newsletter).
It’s startling how different things were before the pandemic, but most of what I was writing about in 2019 is still amazingly relevant, like Bottom Line Management Sucks, What We Learned From Alien, and Managing Behaviors Not People.
No Mistakes, No Poetry | Joy Harjo | American Airlines’ Sick Days Mess | Bottom Line Management Sucks | When Pioneers Give Up | Engaging Freelancers | Feeling At Home, At Home?
The Shore Of Our Ignorance | John Wheeler | What We Learned From Alien | Managing Behaviors Not People | Organizational Evolution in 5 Steps | Toxic is the New Normal
Failing The Frontline
Adrian Woolridge details the myriad ways management has failed frontline workers. One stat makes me angry, and sheds light on why so many frontline workers are changing jobs and going on strike:
A study of how CEOs manage their time by two Harvard Business School luminaries, Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria, found that, on average, CEOs spend just 3% of their time with frontline workers, 6% with customers and 72% in meetings: 3 versus 72!
A telling measure of their contempt for the common worker.
And the costs of this growing disengagement are huge:
A shaken management class is thinking harder about the costs of neglecting frontline staff. Zeynep Ton reports in her forthcoming book, The Case for Good Jobs, that in 2019-20 Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant suffered from a 38% turnover rate among its technicians; the direct cost of replacing each technician was $15,000.
Woolridge seems to have been inspired by research from Joseph Fuller:
Joseph Fuller of Harvard Business School has been studying hourly workers for several years as part of a broader HBS project on Managing the Future of Work. In “The High Cost of Neglecting Low-Wage Workers” in the May-June edition of the Harvard Business Review, Fuller and Manjari Raman, another HBS professor, provide a summary of their results and suggest several ways of improving the management of the frontline.
I summarize Fuller’s recommendations:
Get to know your workers — Companies seem unaware that low-wage workers would rather stay in their current job than switch: 51% have been at their job for four years or more and 47% would recommend the company to a friend. 64% say that they had changed jobs in the past for shorter commutes, while only 43% said pay was the driver of switching.
Understand the business case — Companies overemphasize the costs of training, and underemphasize the costs of churn.
Facilitate better top-down communication — In particular, Fuller and Raman found that spelling out career pathways, detailing learning and development opportunities, and providing mentorship lead to real engagement. Workers who had been promoted and given pay raises were much more likely to have taken advantage of these three practices. Many companies offer zero pathways to the frontline.
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