On the question-and-answer forum Quora, a corporate CEO presented the forum with a conundrum — why aren’t his employees continuing to work after work hours?
“I have two employees that usually leave work at 6 pm. They are good, but I don’t like that their commitment lasts for work hours only,” the CEO asked. “What should I do as a CEO?”
The replies to the executive’s question were numerous, and most admonished him for his attitude toward his employees. Software developer Scott Biddle told the CEO to “prepare for these employees to depart,” and suggested he stop being abusive to his workers.
“The vast majority of workers are not in it for their job, they are in it for what the job provides for them – salary, benefits, and the like. They do not live to work, they work in order to be able to provide for their life and their family if they have one,” Biddle wrote. “Prepare to replace those employees, because you will likely soon be losing the ones you are abusing.”
However, one of the most upvoted responses, from SEO specialist Tom Kubin, told the CEO that instead of replacing those employees, he should consider giving them equity in the company. Kubin argued that if employees have an ownership stake, their commitment will extend beyond work hours, and used his own experience at Yahoo as an example.
“[S]ome of my friends there even stayed to sleep there. They were working so late that it made no sense to go home… just to come back in the morning,” Kubin wrote. “It was because all of us were shareholders of Yahoo – we got a piece of Yahoo when we joined the company… so we were ‘invested’ in it – and obviously we wanted the company to succeed so our shares will be worth more.”
“[Y]ou cannot force your employees to care about your company… why would they? if it’s a job for them… it’s just a job. Make them owners!” He added.
Having an employee-owned company may seem counterproductive to a corporate CEO hesitant to give up their stake, but there are multiple examples of successful worker-owned businesses throughout the U.S. Publix supermarkets, for example, is co-owned by its roughly 175,000 employees, and has more than 1,100 locations around the country. Any worker that stays with Publix for more than a year is given a stake in the company, which posted a profit of more than $2 billion in 2015, according to Investopedia.
Many American workers are likely working for companies with the same mindset as the corporate CEO who thinks his employees should continue working after work hours. A 2010 study from the Center for American Progress on American work-life balance found that while only 20 percent of mothers worked in 1960, 70 percent of American children live in households where both parents work just 50 years later.
And of all of these working households, nearly half of American workers surveyed by global staffing firm Robert Half earlier this year said they felt they were underpaid for the work they did.
“Some firms have not kept up with shifts in market demand and continue to use old job classifications and salary bands,” said Paul McDonald, who is the senior executive director for the firm. “If your organization has not reviewed its compensation plan within the last six months, it could be outdated.”
McDonald also cautioned against employers — like the corporate CEO who posted the original question to Quora — about a creating a toxic work environment, as it could drive away employees.
“Organizations need to offer solid benefits, perks and incentives, along with a positive corporate culture, to attract and retain top performers,” McDonald said.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.