Discover more from Work Futures
The Time You Give Them
That's how long things take.
Quote of the Moment
Remember, things take as long as the amount of time you give them.
| Sean McCabe, from Seventh Week Sabbaticals, which I touch on in section 2, below.
I was involved in a discussion on Twitter this week, and Tracey Maurer asked:
Why do people say their company has a "strong culture"? I guess it is implied that it is GOOD? Because you know, you can have a strong bad culture. Better descriptive words, people. How about - Supportive, Productive, Learning, Transformational, etc.
Here’s the expanded quote:
A culture is considered strong when there is cohesion around beliefs, behavioral rules, traditions, and rituals. Strong cultures typically feature their beliefs, behavioral rules, traditions, and rituals in public displays so that employees can use these cultural elements for decision making throughout the organization. Strong cultures include:
More than one strong leader who articulates beliefs, behavioral rules, traditions, and rituals that are aligned with customer needs, strategic direction, and competitive environments.
Organizational commitment to operating its business as directed by the culture.
Unfaltering commitment by the organization to support its key stakeholders -- business partners, suppliers, employees, customers, and shareholders (if any) -- and by extension the community, society, and environment.
And it should never be a smokescreen for exclusionary culture.
In a similar vein, Sarah Todd pursues the issue of company culture as one of the goals for getting workers back into the office:
A 2021 PwC survey found that 29% of US executives like the idea of employees being in the office at least three days a week for the sake of company culture, while 18% said they prefer four days a week in the office and 21% voted for five days a week in the office.
These executives aren’t wrong, exactly. Working from home can indeed make it harder for employees to forge relationships with one another. Sixty-five percent of people who switched to remote work during the pandemic say they feel less connected to their coworkers, according to a December 2020 survey from the Pew Research Center. And some management experts have theorized that employees’ newfound sense of detachment is one contributing factor in the Great Resignation.
Then, after pushing around the question of whether deep relationships can happen online, she offers a truly arresting question [emphasis mine]:
The crucial question, however, is why company leaders think it’s important for coworkers to develop bonds that go beyond collegiality in the first place.
It’s easy to see how a tight-knit culture can benefit employers. When coworkers feel close to one another, they may be incentivized to work longer hours (can’t let the team down!) and feel more loyal to the company overall. Indeed, research suggests that employees who feel lonely at work are less committed to their jobs, while employees who have friends at work are more engaged and perform better.
That said, there are downsides to working for an organization that places a lot of emphasis on bonding and community in the name of culture.
‘Tight-knit culture’ is more or less a synonym for ‘strong culture’, and employers have everything to gain when people invest more of their sociality at work. But this comes at the cost of connection with family and friends, the possibility of exclusion from cliquish internal social networks, and the imbalance of influence from being remote when others are working in the office.
As Todd puts it,
Business leaders may need to accept that the work relationships that once formed the bedrock of many company cultures will never be the same.
More people are becoming wise to the coercive power of company culture, as Amir Goldberg said:
Culture is a way for organizations to control their members, police their behavior.
And it is largely accomplished by the employees, doing the organization’s heavy lifting.
In Amazon Employees Say the Only Way to Get a Good Raise Is to Boomerang, Sarah Jackson and others at Insider lay it out:
Amazon insiders say the company's pay structure doesn't reward loyalty for employees who stay. Raises can be hard to come by, and outside hires often outearn longtime employees in the same role. As a result, employees turn to "boomeranging," quitting their jobs and returning in higher-paid ones.
Last year, US-based Amazon Web Services engineers saw a turnover rate of at least 35%, according to two insiders.
Makes me wonder how much of the Great Resignation is boomeranging?
Ross Dawson is an old friend, but I think in What you can do today to prepare for the future of work he leans too much toward the idea that business leaders will somehow know today the skills that the business will need in the future. He's right that individuals have to invest in their own ongoing learning -- sharpen your own shovel, dig your own hole -- but wrong when he enlarges to the organization. It's a mistake for a company to select a single 'official future' and align everyone around it. On the contrary, companies need to accept a diverse tangle of 'futures' that individuals and teams are oriented toward. This acceptance of alternative and even divergent futures is just one manifestation of fast-and-loose, self-willed organizations as opposed to tight-and-slow, tranditionalist ones.
Sean McCabe now takes off every seventh week as a sabbatical. Check out his reasoning.
In Banning out-of-hours email 'could harm employee wellbeing’, the BBC talked with Emma Russell:
Dr Emma Russell, a senior lecturer in management at the University of Sussex Business School, said despite the best intentions of policies limiting email use, a one-size-fits-all approach should be avoided.
"[Blanket bans] would be unlikely to be welcomed by employees who prioritise work performance goals and who would prefer to attend to work outside of hours if it helps them get their tasks completed.
Interesting piece on the urbification of the corporate campus:
Companies are bringing some of the characteristics of the city to their suburban campuses.
| Alex Kreiger