Monday, January 08, 2007

There's something to be said for....

... treating people like multi-dimensional human beings.

Apparently, Google has been voted as the best company to work for in this country. Given the coverage I've seen so far, it's no small wonder!

Employees bring their pets to work. There is no dress code. They serve gourmet food in the cafeteria. The workspace is very open. No cubicles. No hierarchy. They have a gym on the premises ~ and a barber. A laundry room. All the comforts of home. It is very definitely a youth-oriented environment. Employees toss balls around, spend break times in a game room and generally have a good time at work. They also work very hard! The statistics show that they take less sick time and the company receives on average of 3000 resumes a week.

Many, many years ago, I worked at Hewlett-Packard. It was cutting edge for its time with daily fruit and donut offerings, free coffee, a gym, a good cafeteria with freshly made food (I will never forget those "crazy eggs" ~ a combination of scrambled eggs, potatoes, green peppers and onions. I still make them now!), a less hierarchal environment ("management by walking around") and monthly "beer busts". For its time, that was downright revolutionary!

Hewlett-Packard, like most companies, eventually gave in to a more standard corporate culture and the perks went away. While it wasn't a horrible place to work, I could see the changes coming. I resigned after 11 years. That started the descent into a workplace, corporate hell that followed.

It was a good way to begin my work life in one respect. In another, it seems that I was unable to accept anything less in the coming years. I wasn't willing to be treated like a cog in a corporate wheel. Nor was I willing to be treated as a lesser being. HP spoiled me.

I've had some wretched bosses over the years, including one who told me that if I couldn't find a way to get to work in a blizzard, that she would "accept [my] resignation, effective immediately". Furthermore, she told me, she expected "loyalty" from me. I told her that if she wanted loyalty, she should buy a dog. I hung up and that was the end of that job. I just couldn't see risking my life to do the back-ups on their mainframes. Sorry. So sorry. Not going to happen in this lifetime.

Yes, I'm going to name names ~ and the worst places I ever worked were AT&T Wireless as a cell phone tech support person, Earthlink as a technical support person and a company called EDS (Ross Perot's company) which made those other places look like heaven on earth!

EDS is the only job I have ever been fired from in the middle of the day after having a rather ugly confrontation with a supervisor (who was half my age and one quarter of my intellect). Arrogant? I hope not. This woman was truly hellish. If there was ever a woman who deserved the label "bitch", she was it!

It began innocently enough. A young woman got a job in the call center. (Again, I was technical support.) She looked as though she had very little job experience and had the general appearance of someone who'd had enough of life already, even though she was probably 25 years old at most. The poor kid was just trying to improve her life!

She made the deadly mistake of locking her purse in a desk drawer which required the supervisor's key to open.

The supervisor asked her in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, "How could you be so stupid?" (That kind of talk is acceptable at the EDS call center.)

Without even realizing it would come out my mouth, I replied in a voice equally loud, "How can you be such an a$$hole?"

The room went quiet. Everyone's eyes focused on S. and on me. We glared at each other. I was probably 20 feet away from her, helping one of the reps with a computer problem. I heard him mutter "oh, sh*t". The eye-locking ended with her saying, "Come into my office" in a very harsh tone. I told her to perform an unnatural sexual act on herself.

Truly, everyone, this is not my typical behavior. Something snapped. I am by nature very non-confrontative, almost submissive. I think seeing the abuse every day was just too much. Seeing that young girl begin to cry brought out all my protective instincts. Someone needed to stand up for her.

Needless to say, I knew the job was over the moment I spouted off. After all, I was a contractor and contractors don't survive such incidents. I was asked to leave and I did. The End.

I do believe these companies need to be held accountable for such abuse but my letters and phone calls to the Call Center Director went unreturned. I tried contacting a local news station but they didn't bite. I didn't want the job back. I just wanted the director to know what kind of people were supervising there. I wanted it to stop. People have the right to go to work and reasonably expect they will not be verbally abused.

Back to Google, good on them. Good on them for realizing that people work for a living and that doesn't make them lesser beings. Good on them for realizing that treating people with dignity and consideration gets more of the same in return. Good on them for creating an atmosphere that generates good feelings, happiness and creativity. And good on them for providing a pretty decent product, all told.




Anvilcloud said...

I have seen TV reports of another computer-type company that also treated its employees in an enlightened manner, and both employees and owners were extremely pleased with the results. I can't remember the name of the comapny, however.

meno said...

Good for you for sticking up for that girl. There is no reason, ever, to treat someone that way.

I remember when H-P used to have a happy hour at 4 pm every Friday. I never worked there, but the Mister did.

Pam said...

I saw a segment on Google on 60 minutes. I was most impressed. What many employers miss is the fact that you get better results in the work place if people feel appreciated and valued. In many companys "corporate" is now a four letter word.
And hooray for spouting off!

Ginnie said...

Reminds me of that movie "Working 9 to 5". I can't imagine why more companies don't realize that the "softer" way is better for everyone, including the business.

Caro said...

I hope this is a trend many corporations plan on following. Could it be that the concept of our world's need for humanity is finally flooding the corporate consciousness? (Pardon the oxymoron there)

MsLittlePea said...

As you know, Chani, I wish I could go around telling people to go perform unnatural sex acts on themselves! So I'm qutie impressed when someone else does because I don't have enough nerve.

Who knew creating a pleasant environment for employees actually actually works...

Lucia said...

Why don't other companies learn from this? Most corporate work environments are all wrong. There seem to be a lot of people who draw their sense of self importance from the management power they hold over others.

In most of the work environments I've been in (all non-profits--schools, museums, etc.), management pitches in with the tough work as well as the "higher level" work. Periodically, I run into people who have the attitude that they get paid more as management, so they shouldn't have to set up chairs or empty trash, and that's when the problems begin.

Laurie said...

Kudos to you for taking that b*tch boss woman to task. I'm sure the young woman you were protecting will never forget what you did.

jen said...

i agree - finding innovative ways to treat employees can never be a bad thing...

Gobody said...

I applaud you for standing up to that girl, most ppl would say none of my business and let her get the abuse. By standing up for her, you came out of that office another person, a taller one. I tip my hat for you.