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09-14-2012, 07:57 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Non-standard Employer Strategies

Just to show there are things going on outside the political landscape...

Whole Foods CEO: Here?s Why We Pay Our Employees More Than We Have To | Daily Ticker - Yahoo! Finance

One of the biggest economic problems in the United States right now is the growing disparity between rich and poor.

And one of the factors that is exacerbating that problem is the loss of good-paying middle-class jobs, which have been replaced by low-paying retail and service jobs.

Retail employees at Walmart (WMT), for example, make about $12 an hour, a wage that leaves full-time employees at one of the most successful companies in the world earning a salary that is close to the poverty line. And given the number of Americans employed in these jobs--Walmart alone employs about 1.4 million Americans, or about 1% of the adult workforce--the low wages reduce consumer spending power across the economy as a whole.

One big successful retailer that pays better than Walmart is Whole Foods (WFM).

Walter Robb, Whole Foods' co-CEO, says the company's "Team Members" make an average of $15 an hour. The majority of them also get benefits and stock options, which many retail employees don't.

This wage is more than double the national minimum wage, but it still amounts to just north of $30,000 a year, a salary that is very hard to support a family on in many parts of the country. Robb is proud that Whole Foods pays its employees more than it has to, and he says this helps reduce turnover and makes Whole Foods a much better company. He also says he wishes the company could pay its employees even more.

Unlike the big manufacturing companies that provided many middle-class jobs a few decades ago, the employees at Whole Foods, Walmart, and other big retailers do not have unions, which may contribute to the relatively low wages they are paid. (Importantly, this is not a "skill" issue. Plenty of these jobs require just as much skill as operating a particular machine on an assembly line.) For understandable reasons, these big companies are opposed to unions, and Whole Foods, at least, is trying to treat its employees well enough that they don't feel the need to unionize.

Specifically, Whole Foods is trying to practice a philosophy it calls "conscious capitalism" in which the interests of three different groups of "stakeholders" in a company are balanced: shareholders, customers, and employees. In many companies, the emphasis is almost entirely on the interests of shareholders and customers, with employees viewed as a "production cost." The problem with the latter philosophy is that, while it may produce short-term profit gains, it ultimately hurts the entire economy. This is because the most important customers in the economy, the hundreds of millions of mass-market consumers who work as employees, get starved of wages that would otherwise quickly be turned into purchasing power and, thereby, revenue for other companies.

Whole Foods' philosophy is one that many more American corporations need to adopt if the U.S. economy is to become strong again. Even Whole Foods has a ways to go, obviously--$15-an-hour jobs won't create that much purchasing power--but the company's attitude is much healthier and sustainable than that of many other American corporations.

Pay Your Employees to Work Less. Huh? |

Much of traditional management theory, organizational psychology, and plain old boss-folk wisdom is dedicated to the question of how to get employees to work more, but at contact management company FullContact co-founder Bart Larong feels he has a very different issue. His employees work too much.

And, as he announced on the company blog this week, he's doing something fairly radical about it. Aside from the 15 days of paid vacation the company already gives employees, it's now offering an extra $7,500 to each team member who agrees to not just go on vacation, but also to not work while he or she is away, and to completely disconnect for the duration of the holiday. That means no email, no smart phone, no social media.

What is Larong thinking? In the post, he gives three reasons for taking the unusual step of paying his employees to not work, the first of which he explains with a personal anecdote about planning his honeymoon:

As I started thinking about the upcoming two weeks off the grid, I started to mildly panic. I was worried that I'd break down. I was worried that my new bride would find me in the hotel business center cranking through emails like some crazed addict. I've tried to go off the grid for extended periods of time before, but have failed frequently.

"It's super important for people to disconnect," he concludes, offering the first and simplest explanation for the company's new policy. He then goes on to elaborate on the other two principles underlying his decision:

We'll Be A Better Company if Employees Disconnect. Perhaps it is a sense of ownership or desire to feel needed, but in many company cultures (especially startups), there is often a misguided hero syndrome that encourages an "I'm the only one who can do this" mentality.

That's not heroic. That's a single point of failure. It's not good for the employee or the company. But here's the thing: If people know they will be disconnecting and going off the grid for an extended period of time, they might actually keep that in mind as they help build the company. For example:

They might empower direct reports to make more decisions.
They might document their code a bit better.
They might contribute to the Company Wiki and share knowledge.
At the end of the day, the company will improve. As an added bonus, everyone will be happier and more relaxed knowing that they aren't the last line of defense.

Everyone at FullContact Deserves a Nice Vacation. We felt that everyone should have the opportunity to take a nice vacation without constantly worrying about how much money they’re spending while on vacation.

With this new policy, FullContact joins the currently trendy backlash against our machine-enabled ability to always be running on the work hamster wheel. 37signals, for example, also recently announced on its company blog that it is giving each employee "a free month" to dream up and pursue whatever side project he or she desires. A new survey found that, on average, Americans work a full extra day each week after hours. And here on a series of posts urging entrepreneurs and their employees to actually clock off at reasonable hours prompted a flurry of reader response.

09-14-2012, 08:18 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
someone "gets it"...........
09-15-2012, 06:22 AM   #3

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I actually respect Whole Foods for paying their employees more towards a living wage. Still I could not imagine how anyone could manage to make do on that amount of money - even if one also happened to get some 48++ hours per week. If one can do it personally, then great. Bcause there are many, many millions of americans that are having to do just that.

But full credit has to be given to this ceo for taking a step towards the right direction. It's not perfect, but it's a step.

It also sure is better than what others pay; others such as Giant Eagle and Kroger, both multi-billion dollar companies. One would also think that companies such as this could afford to pay their employees something better than slave wages. In the end, they all get what they pay for. I imagine that the general Whole Foos employee is a lot more loyal than one that works for a place such as Giant Eagle.

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