Last Friday, I wrote a post that felt more like a personal update than anything else.
It went viral anyway, and I know why. 👇
Quick Message — I’m Here to Help
☝️ First, let me say: I know the crunch that’s happening all over the country (and the world), which is why I’m cutting my rates and making them as flexible as possible. I do personal branding, relationship-building, content editing, and networking consulting.
I teach people how to get in front of anyone; tech investors, company CEOs, journalists or media, etc., and I do it by teaching basic tactics that anyone could use (patience, value creation, consistency, etc.). If you need help—growing your network, developing your brand & reputation, building relationships for a new job—then reach out to me. I will work with your budget —just send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn.
What We Expect of Our Companies
When we apply for jobs at companies, we expect that the contracts they give us are mutually beneficial at their core. For our part, these contracts require us to show up on time, excel in our skills & dedication, produce results, etc. And for that we get paid. It often boils down to a base concept:
“You give me time and skills, and I’ll give you money and benefits.” 💰
But sometimes in our readiness to accept these terms and get paid, we can overlook the things which we should be expecting & requiring from the companies hiring us.
And one of the core things that every employee should expect of their employer is a safe workplace. This isn’t innovative thinking; it’s a necessary cost which every employer should figure into their overhead.
Here’s the problem with that:
Safety isn’t sexy and profit rules the day.
Many people like to think that their company has their back; that the organization will catch them when they fall. And indeed this is true of many companies, but unfortunately not all.
And I think this is exactly why my post went viral. 🤔
Companies in Two Camps
With all the coronavirus stuff happening globally, there’s a lot of fear about how to weather the storm. Many companies have taken it upon themselves to step out on the limb with their employees and help as best as they can. Some of my favorites like Slack, Airbnb, Zoom, PagerDuty, and Box are cutting costs to their premium products so that the sudden influx of people now forced to work from home can continue to be as productive as possible. Many companies recognize that they may see a financial loss in the coming weeks, but they accept that this is bigger than that.
They’re placing their employees’ safety above their fiscal bottom lines. 🙌
And then there are companies which are not.
Even with social distancing requirements going into effect all over the world, there are companies that don’t seem to be taking the situation seriously. Hobby Lobby has adamantly refused to close locations and GameStop declared the same.
These are the poster children for companies which are sticking to the gray areas of what is defined as an “essential business” apparently so that they don’t have to close up shop or move online. And this is going to jeopardize the health of their workers. 😷
When this is all over and the dust settles, there will only be two camps of companies:
- 📈 Those who placed the health of their employees over the fiscal bottom line, and
- 📉 Those who placed the fiscal bottom line over health and everything else
(For the record, the companies I’m referring to en masse are not the typical essential businesses; i.e. police, medical personnel, grocers, firefighters, etc.)
Why My Post Went Viral (I Believe)
My post went viral (perhaps a poor adjective given our current situation…) because I have been documenting the struggle that one of my close friends is having with some such company. My friend works for a company that is doing its damn best to stay in one of these gray areas; they are not “essential” on the same level as a homeless shelter or police department, nor are they 100% remote as software engineering might be.
My original post from Tuesday, 3/24/20.
What I do know, though, is that the work my friend does—operations, bookkeeping, customer support—could all be done remotely. Certainly in an extenuating circumstance like the one in which we now find ourselves, 98% (if not more) of my friend’s work could be done from their laptop at home.
Yet the company refuses to allow them to do so.
The optics are even worse: the partners and employees who work in corporate are already working from home and have been for a week. 😡
My post went viral—I believe—because this kind of management of employees is not only reckless and irresponsible, it’s dismaying and unconscionable. People have a right to work in safe conditions, and a right to request leniency in extenuating circumstances like this. They have a right not to fear retaliation for desiring to work from home in the middle of a pandemic.
My viral follow-up post from Friday, 3/27/20.
This Isn’t Leadership — It’s Extortion
I’ve run startup companies before and I’ve worked for bigger organizations, and here’s a rule I never break: I would never ask my employee or team member to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.
Like, say, risk my life for a good quarterly profit.
The irony is that these companies who are putting profit before safety will see cataclysmic retribution when this is all over. Not from me or even from governments most likely, but from their employees, customers, investors, and advertisers. Nobody wants to work for, buy from, or promote a company which places profits over employee health and safety. Investor Mark Cuban mentioned as much just last week.
My post went viral because people are angry at my friend’s circumstance (and probably those of their close ones as well) and know that this is not right. This is not what my friend signed up for, and certainly not what the company should be expecting of them.
Leaders lead from the front, and what this company is doing now isn’t leadership—it’s extortion. 🚨
The Upshot When This Is Over
For those of you out there running companies the right way and doing your very best to hear your employees and put their health first, thank you. I applaud you. I will patronize your businesses and continue to lead with you in the right direction.
But for those who are not following suit—who view any desire for leniency & safety as insubordination and are living in the gray areas intentionally for profit—, you do so at your own risk. The optics are not on your side, and any profit you manage to make during this tough time will undoubtedly be used on public relations damage control.
And for the hardworking employees out there: you deserve to work in a safe environment. If you know that your company truly doesn’t fall under “essential business,” also know that your health and safety are paramount. This isn’t a normal corporate situation; this is an extreme that we’re living in right now and people need to adapt to that.
I’m truly grateful for all of your support. Keep moving forward. 🚀
P.S. — Leads on new jobs for my friend still greatly appreciated. To my knowledge, skills include: asset management, operations, bookkeeping, customer service, company relations, & extensive real estate experience.