Actions Speak Louder than Words in Forming Workplace Culture

This article is dead on. Many business leaders think they can lead their companies with words rather than actions – but actions, even the small ones, speak a lot louder than any promises made about customer or employee satisfaction. When a company utilizes ticker-timer on call length, as cited in this NYT article, it has a more substantive impact on the psychology of a workplace than anything the CEO might say about taking the time to truly service clients. These kinds of decisions the things that indicate what an organization truly values – and when what a company’s stated goals are different from the ones in practice, it’s a recipe for potential disaster. And, it now looks like former Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf is learning that lesson the hard way. 

Photo: John Stumpf testifying before the House Financial Services Committee. Credit: Al Drogo via NYT.

Visa Abuses Mean Layoffs for Domestic Workers

H-1B visas are a great idea in theory. The notion of bringing the world’s best and brightest to work for your company is appealing, but many corporations have been abusing these visas to bring in low-cost alternatives to their existing employees. To add insult to injury, according to this article, “in many cases, laid off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.” To take it one step further, many laid off workers signed agreements that made it impossible to criticize their former employers in order to receive severance pay – making it impossible for many of the victims of this situation to be heard publicly. No wonder that, according to Gallup Polling, 70% of American workers are unengaged at work. You can read more on this at The New York Times.

Photo: Workers from Abbott Laboratories gathered after a series of layoffs at their company; Joshua Lott for NYT.

Social Trust and Employment Trends

This article points out a very interesting trend – less people are moving to find new work. It may seem inconsequential or obvious, but the effects and projected reasons behind this trend are evocative of a greater problem: a drastic decline in social trust. According to the studies presented here, people seem to be staying in jobs that they aren’t happy with because they’re afraid of changing. This not only causes a downturn in productivity, but it also means that many workers are foregoing raises and other benefits that often come with job shifts. It shows a fundamental lack of trust in the economic system and job market – people are terrified of a switch that may leave them worse off than they were before. It’s really thought-provoking to understand how the ways we think about employment fundamentally shift our entire society’s point of view. You can read more about this at The New York Times

Photo: A home in Detroit scheduled to be demolished. Image by Fabrizio Costantini/Bloomberg via NYT

Response to IAAF Corruption

Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF, photographed by Michael Dalder

Sebastian Coe, President of the IAAF, photographed by Michael Dalder

“With so much corruption in international sports, there would be no guarantee that Coe’s successor would be blemish-free.” Using this as a rationalization to keep Sebastian Coe as the head of International Association of Athletics Federations is like saying you’ll let the fox guard the henhouse to avoid involving wolves. According to the report discussed in this article, there’s no way he could have been unaware of the corruption – in fact, there’s a good chance he was involved in the corruption. The message that there isn’t one clean sports official to put in charge of the IAAF is a shameful one to send to our youth, who are growing up in a world where trust has been eroding in nearly every aspect of society. Read more on this story at The New York Times.

Photo Credit: Michael Dalder for Reuters

Response to Levinas NYT Op-Ed

 “… Levinas has taught us that our responsibility for others is the foundation of all human communities, and that the very possibility of living in a meaningful human world is based on our ability to give what we can to others.” This article is moving, and while the lessons that the philosopher Levinas can definitely be applied to refugees, as the piece suggests, I also see parallels for the modern workplace. Bystanders who witness the abuse of others need to become defenders, resisters and activists against harsh treatment. Read the full story at The New York Times.

Photo Credit: Sergey Ponomarev for NYT