Monday, August 09, 2010

corporate "security"

If you ever worked in an international corporation, or known anyone who worked/works there, you would know that it comes with a shiny bunch of perks other than salary. Depending on the location and the industry, the benefits can be anything like shuttle buses, valet car parking, all-day free drinks, paying full tuition fees of your kids, dry cleaner on the premises and 24 hour emergency hot line. Plus you get discounts on many things because your corporation has deals with other corporations. The bigger the corporation gets, the more the benefits are. It takes care of you in so many ways, almost like family. Yet again, the  bigger the corporation gets, the more it resembles an over-protective mother. It handles everything for you but once you call quits to your cubicle, you are like a fish out of the water. You need to pay the tuition for your own kids, make your own travel arrangements, buy your own mobile, take your car to the service by yourself, etc etc... It can become quite overwhelming. For years you lean your back against a solid wall and now you need to stand up on your own two feet.

I've read quite a few theories about this. Some say that corporations offer these perks to attract the best talent in the market. I'm not sure if really talented people are attracted by dry cleaning services.

Some say these are benefits to ensure that you dedicate all your time and energy on your work. When your attention is not interrupted by when you need to change your winter tires, you can be be more productive in your work. Maybe; then again that makes me wonder how resourceful you can be when all you think and do is predefined by a single-page job description.

Some say that by taking care of all your needs, the corporations actually take away your self-reliance. Spending 12 hours in an office for your office work and have other people take care of your “actual” life can eventually be quite addictive. Once your are used to the illusionary ease of having things done for you, it's difficult to get your hands dirty and do your own things.

At some point, you may start hating your job or your boss. Yet you start working even harder and look more dedicated. You don't know what else you can do if someone notices that you dislike your boss and you're fired. As the hate grows, the mask thickens to cover it up. This is a deep dissonance, which creates an even deeper frustration.

It feels easier to get used to a negative environment as compared to stepping out and taking responsibility for your own life – relying on your own capabilities. At the end of the day, when you look around which one do you see more? Corporate slaves with grayish faces, complaining all the time about their work yet boasting about their 5-star tropics holiday last summer, or content people who are firmly on their own feet, not dependent on some other source to take care of them for all their neediness? Come to think of it, who actually needs valet-parking, unlimited free coke, discounts at car rental and 12 different lunch menus?
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  1. Esin'cim,
    Photo shows the reality:)

    In the recruitment session that I had yesterday , we had the same conversation with the recruiter.And he was 28 and he already recognised that satisfaction of doing your own job is totally different!

    May be we are the generation who needed guarantee and care of some.

  2. Esincim - I always like and very much relate to a cynical approach to corporate life...Yet - some of the research I've been doing suggests that companies have all these perks and bundle them with a whole bunch of other so-called "high-involvement or high-performance work practices" - rather than using them in isolation (the best and the brightest do not get attracted to dry cleaning but the whole package that goes with it). These systems of practices, in turn, have been shown to be related to a whole bunch of bottom-line performance indicators including profitability, market share, and market value across different industries, companies, and countries...That is, it makes business sense to treat your employees nice because they tend to work harder whether they like it or not! And the best and the brightest - when they work harder - end up making more money for the shareholders...On a closing note - I highly recommend you to watch the documentary "The Corporation" which I am sure you will enjoy...Saba

  3. @Saba; different perspective and a lot of information, thank you :)
    This input on the employer side brought up another question on the employee side; In my observation, generally the corporations that offer the "bigger bundles" are the ones with longer working hours, higher stress levels and less job security. Did you ever research yourself/came across research what is the impact of benefits for retention?

  4. that is another research stream - focusing on turnover/retention - a slightly different research question from the one I mentioned above (the bundling does not refer to the compensation package per se but to the system of practices that go together and include selective recruitment, competitive salary and benefits, teamwork, profit-sharing etc all at once)...

    Traditionally, researchers examined emotional/affective responses towards the job and the organization (i.e. job satisfaction, organizational commitment) as predictors of turnover intentions with the straightforward assumption that people who are happy with their jobs and organizations also tend to stay with their organizations. However, these work attitudes, statistically, predict only a small variance in turnover (meaning there are lots of people who dislike their job/organization but still stay) which led researcher to think about alternative ways to conceptualize retention. A very cool construct, in my opinion, emerged - referred to as "job embeddedness" - which is composed of a web or a constellation of restraining forces that tie you to the organization and creates a feeling of being "stuck" in one's organization. One of the measures they use is the extent to which one is satisfied with the benefits, salary etc..among many other different types of things that may tie you up. There has been a number of very rigorous studies which do show that embeddedness predicts turnover above and beyond affective and emotional responses towards the job...So yes - there is empirical evidence suggesting that benefits impact retention (however - again not in isolation)...

    Because I like this construct so much (how pathetic I've become)- I do want to study it further - especially within an international context - kind of trying to understand why for example, people relocate internationally, why do they stay international, or why they go back to their home country...Belki de Voltrani olusturup, we should write up stg. together ;)