Point 1 – In this new era of the “knowledge worker” (otherwise known as an IT professional), the means of production is no longer at the company like it used to be in the manufacturing era. It’s now in the heads of the knowledge workers.
Point 2 – Knowledge workers (the means of production) are transportable and to a large degree interchangeable. Certain IT skill sets can generally be used in multiple companies with minimal re-training. I once overheard a conversation by some IT workers about what company they had been with recently and where they might go next – as if it was a certainty. This occurred at a corporate “beer-bash”, one of the perks geared to keep employees.
Point 3 – The corporate perks in the knowledge worker world are common place, and probably make little difference. One of the staff members at a tech company asked why the company puts on the beer-bashed saying it’s a waste of money. I told them this company does it because the company across the street does it, as does Google, as does…(fill in the blank).
Point 4 - The corporate world is more concerned about what Wall Street thinks in the short term than the fate of employees in the long term. Hardly a day goes by without a news report of a corporate “downsizing” because the company didn’t meet the projected quarterly revenue numbers. So, the company lays off X-number of employees who were once highly sought-after.
Point 5 (this is the big one) – Recent polls by Gallup and other organizations indicate the level of engaged employees (workers committed to the company) is about 30 percent, meaning 70 percent are neutral (don’t care either way) or actively dis-engaged (really unhappy). Other data indicates most employees (70 percent or so) leave a company due to the behavior of their immediate supervisor. Recall the saying that “people join companies and leave bosses”.
Considering the points outlined above, is there any wonder why there are so many job-hoppers?
So, what’s the message to the corporations?
- Focus on learning what “leadership” really is and teaching it to the supervisors and project managers. Shift the role of the manager to one of leading and less on technical skills.
- Find a “real” higher purpose for the company so employees feel connected to their work. Purpose is not measured in “profit” or “growth”.
- Consider increasing productivity through better leadership/management as opposed to having to cut cost with layoffs. It’s not that hard to do if you understand what leadership/management really is.
What are your thoughts? Agree/disagree?
Tim Parker is a Business Consultant focusing on Executives and Leadership. He is President of Parker Resource Management, LLC in Raleigh, NC.
"What do you want to be remembered for?" - Peter Drucker