The Decision To Exit
Albert Hirshman | RTO Creep | Factoids | The Good Old Days
Quote of the Moment
The ultimate in unhappiness and paradoxical loyalist behavior, occurs when the public evil produced by the organization promises to accelerate or to reach some intolerable level as the organization deteriorates; then, in line with the reasoning just presented, the decision to exit will become ever more difficult the longer one fails to exit. The conviction that one has to stay on to prevent the worst grows stronger all the time.
| Albert Hirschman, Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States
Hirshman is the researcher who defined the three-part model for employee loyalty. An employee who is disgruntled may either stay out of loyalty (perhaps misplaced), give voice to their concerns (hoping the company will listen), or exit (when they believe that the company won’t listen, or has proven it won’t).
A great teeing up for the first topic: RTO Creep.
The actions of major corporations demonstrate, once again, that their attestations that ‘our people are our greatest asset’ and their fake earnesty about caring about their staff is baloney. Consider the mass layoffs in recent months, supposedly anticipating a slowdown in the economy or an outright recession which have failed to materialize, but boosted profits. And now, they are acting in a cartel-like synchronized fashion to clawback another day per week of working from home.
Jo Constanz reports on this dark pattern:
A small but growing list of big-name companies like BlackRock Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. are taking their return-to-office mandates up a notch, calling employees back to their desks four days a week.
It's a form of RTO creep, as companies test what has emerged as the post-pandemic norm of two to three days in the office and fan the debate over remote work. It's also a sign of employers gaining more power in the labor market as layoffs mount and a potential recession looms.
As the Great Resignation took hold, quit rates soared and staffing shortages hamstrung businesses, companies were forced to embrace flexibility to keep workers. Now a cooling labor market has emboldened executives determined to get back to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy. But these moves could backfire among employees who've grown fiercely protective of the work-life balance that remote work affords.
There has been a closing in the gap between workers’ desire to work from home three days a week and employers demanding at least two, as shown in this chart:
But these companies’ leaders could care less about people’s desires, even when people have made great changes in their lives, like relocating farther from the office, or childcare arrangements (which is a national blight).
Personally, this is an argument for knowledge workers unionizing in order to demand some standard for working from home. Each individual having to make their own one-off deal with their management is the wrong way to push for these — let’s call it what it is — employee rights.
Workers demanded a 40-hour work week back in the 1920s, leading Henry Ford to adopt it in 1926, and the International Labor Organization adopting it in 1936. The United States Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, officially establishing the 40-hour work week across all industries, setting a minimum wage, and making child labor illegal.
It’s inconceivable that the US could come together to establish laws regarding working from home as a right. Likewise, given the low level of unionization in the US today, I’d say that resistance might never find enough solidarity to come together, alas.
Black lawyers make up only 2.2 percent of law firm partners, according to a 2021 National Association of Law Placement report, with Black and Latino women at less than 1 percent. | Shira A. Scheindlin
Close to 900 million acres -- more than half of the contiguous United States — are devoted to agricultural production of one sort or another. Agriculture is responsible for about one-tenth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly methane from the digestive systems of animals as well as nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, from lavish use of synthetic fertilizer. That’s smaller than the emissions from transportation (28 percent), electric power (25 percent) and industry (23 percent). But agricultural emissions are hard to measure and are almost certainly underestimated. | Robert B. Semple Jr.
About 80 percent of Colorado River water delivered to Arizona and California goes to irrigating alfalfa, grain for animal feed, and winter vegetables. [And the majority of those products are shipped out of those states, as far away as Saudi Arabia and China. A desert-like region shipping its water away.]
The Good Old Days
In Your Brain Has Tricked You Into Thinking Everything Is Worse, Adam Mastroianni of Columbia University has uncovered a bug in the wiring of the human mind that leads us to believe — erroneously — that there has been a decline in morality in the recent past.
He draws attention to political slogans that build on this fallacy, like these, and the foundational problem [emphasis mine]:
Perhaps no political promise is more potent or universal than the vow to restore a golden age. From Caesar Augustus to the Medicis and Adolf Hitler, from President Xi Jinping of China and President “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of the Philippines to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Joe Biden’s “America Is Back,” leaders have gained power by vowing a return to the good old days.
What these political myths have in common is an understanding that the golden age is definitely not right now. Maybe we’ve been changing from angels into demons for centuries, and people have only now noticed the horns sprouting on their neighbors’ foreheads.
But I believe there’s a bug — a set of cognitive biases — in people’s brains that causes them to perceive a fall from grace even when it hasn’t happened.
Mastroianni and his colleague Daniel T. Gilbert conducted research to test if human cognitive biases collude to make people believe that some earlier time was a golden age from which we have fallen. And?
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