The Changing Paradigm Of Corporate Survival


The Wall Street Journal

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I’ve talked about how much things are changing for the job hunters out there – the prevalence of new technologies and the state of the economy (tied, not coincidentally, with the need for corporations to garner ever-increasing profit margins) is changing the way companies attack and follow-through on the hiring process.

There are tons of new rules for the job hunter, things like Don’t Be Modest, and Modernize.  There is a growing appreciation for the fact that resumes are not only not the end-all and be-all of the job hunt, but that they actually tell a prospective employer very little about the prospective employee.  Confused job hunters are seeking out ever-new and intriguing ways to land interviews, how to get what you want out of work, and even the best times of year to apply for jobs so as not to get lost in the recruiting cycle.

But the prevalence of new technologies, and the state of the economy (tied, again not coincidentally, with the need for corporations to garner ever-increasing profit margins), is not only affecting people looking for new jobs – it’s affecting people trying to keep, or improve upon, their existing jobs.

Sometimes this is good – companies that are open to non-resume applications, for example, are likely to be more open to internal movement, to finding exactly the right position that best suits not only the company, but the employee themselves.  Companies are embracing working remotely on an increasing basis, finding that telecommuting does not hamper productivity – in fact it increases it in many cases.

Of course very little companies do is out of pure generosity.  Even the most altruistic-seeming policies must be helping the company somewhere down at, or below, the bottom-line.  Keeping productive employees, for example, is a huge money saver for corporations.  Not only to get they get to save on the costs of finding and training replacements, but policies designed for employee satisfaction leak out to the industry, allowing these companies to find the best and the brightest in these days of open communication.

Take the case of some of the top companies offering unusual benefits to their employees.  The whole first floor of NetApp headquarters is a multi-million dollar fitness center, with a basketball court, two massage centers and over 30 classes a week offered in their exercise rooms.  For those employees not as physical as others, ping pong and billiards tables are also available to keep workers occupied during their free times.

Employees-of-the-month at Zappos are eligible to become “Heroes”, which elevates those EOM awards to the next level.  In an environment where even getting a first Employee Of The Month award is no longer possible, having a second tier to this clearly demonstrates the company’s commitment to recognizing employees for strong performance.

And the Southern Ohio Medical Center is having an impact not only on its employees, but on the world around them by allowing staff access to gardening space, including a greenhouse.  According to the article, “the garden turned out kale, broccoli, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, rhubarb, strawberries, and a bumper crop of lettuce so large that non-employees were invited to take some too. The company also dedicated a page of its internal site to gardening tips and recipes like strawberry-rhubarb ice cream.”

Of course not every decision being made by management is a good one – or even a conscious one.  Just see the study showing that a common, simple name like Michael, Tom, Jane or Mary actually may make it more likely for an employee to receive a promotion.

English: Star Watch Case Company employees c1919

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, President Barack Obama notwithstanding, it seems that researchers have identified a causality link between how easily pronounced a given name is and how likely that person is to receive a promotion.  In a world where folks are trying to get their kids disambiguated hits on Google searches by naming them everything from Apple Paltrow to pretty much any Zappa.  Moxie Crimefighter (daughter of comedian Penn Jillette) might end up married to Spec Wildhorse (John Cougar Mellencamp’s son).  Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has daughters named Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo, while the Beckhams have sons named Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz.  (Not to worry, their sister Harper Seven will not be forgotten.)

Now I must admit that I named my own kids with certain similar criteria in mind.  I wanted names that stood out – I didn’t want to have to call “Aiden” in the playground and be swarmed with dozens of kids.  On the other hand, I’m not as far out there as Erykah Badu, whose kids are called Seven Sirius and Puma – more words than names in my book.

I wanted real names – combinations of sounds and letters that people recognize as names, yet don’t quite use every day.  Now, it turns out that I really like my kids’ names, and still get a lot of comments about them.

  • “Is that a family name?”
  • “Wow, love it!”
  • “Did you name them after someone?”
  • “He’s the only ___ we have!”

So yes, I can go to a Chuck E Cheese and yell out my child’s name without fear of being surrounded by dirty, sniveling children.  (Quite the opposite might happen at a Senior Center, though, as my kids’ names invoke the image of old, bedentured bald men.)  But time will only tell how it will affect them in the workplace.

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