Spoiled by Perfection: The Unforeseen Consequences of Exemplary Work Conditions
The Owl and The Beetle: Thursday Memo
I recently had a great conversation with the CEO of a software company committed to delivering happiness to the workforce. They enforce remote work for their engineers, offer them free coffee in the office, and implement significant autonomy within their teams regarding day-to-day work.
Working for their firm sounds like a dream.
Similarly, I had a conversation with the general manager of a more traditional business, who, for the past eight years, devoted themselves to the generational change of the organization. The company is in the farming industry, and tradition is hard to steer. The employees have been used to refer to their superiors with respect, distance, and deference. The new processes are welcoming, warm, and more aligned with a younger mannerism in the office.
Both companies have a higher-than-standard corporate welfare, which can be appreciated in the workplace environment, to the benefits granted to the employees.
And yet, both companies experience the same sickness.
After the initial few months of onboarding, people get so used to the high standards of their working conditions that every little spec of dust that spoils their perfect picture is treated like a boulder stuck on the way to their happiness.
People started arguments about the quality of the coffee, which overnight became less tasty than the day before. The fight was vicious, yet the coffee was still free.
Some employees took the chance to remind their managers that unless higher wages were put on the table, they were ready to hit the road and find new employment elsewhere. The same employees who returned a few months later were hurt and disappointed by the harsher treatment other companies offered and demanded their positions back. Sadly, their chairs were not available anymore.
But it gets uglier than this.