I had the opportunity to sit on the board of a not-for-profit board, that was based in Peoria, IL. One of the other board members was a gentleman who at the time was the Director of Employee Relations for Caterpillar Inc. He had a very important job with the quintessential Peoria Company. He was highly respected by the other board members, and when he talked you could hear a pin drop in the room.
Chris and I were visiting one day before our board meeting had begun. We were talking about some business strategies that Wal-Mart was using at the time, and I recall him say, “While I would not consider what they (Wal-Mart) are doing to be a predatory practice, I could see how they might be called into question for what they were doing.”
I am a reasonably worldly guy, but I have never worked for a fortune 500 Company. So even though I am familiar with terms like predatory practice or the Robinson-Patman Act, I have never had to deal with these in my day to day grind in the HR world.
My Project Social partner Laura Schroder has made reference to me as a trench HR guy who practices every man HR. While that sounds kind of pedestrian, I would totally agree. I do a little bit of a lot of things. My employer does not have the resources of a General Electric or Mobil/Exon. We have to operate differently.
The Company, along with every man HR guy Dave, try to make our shop a good place to work. We work towards having harmonious realtions with our labor force, some of which is unionized. We try to provide fair, yet affordable benefits. In general we try to do the right things for the right reasons and hope that we appease most of our employees, enough that they continue to hang around.
Recently, Laura, who lives and works in the global business community was telling me of an evil strategy that some employers were using (check that out here); to create the ideal workplace, one where people would want to come and work long-hours, weekends, holidays, forgo their family life – all in an effort to help their employer create larger profits.
Let me kind of recap here; as a business strategy the employer was going to create a climate where the employee would be so content that they would be lulled into spending every waking hour at work. Laura said it was rumored to be a happening.
Hmm… well just like I couldn’t understand how Caterpillar and Wal-Mart see the world, old every man HR Dave can not get my head around how you could pay someone so much money, make them so happy at work that they would never want to leave, and to have created such a Utopia that the employees basically turn into pods. Oh and that is a legitimate business strategy? Sorry I don’t believe for a minute.
Maybe I should forward this to Jamie and Adam over at Mythbusters to see if they can find our if it is true or not.
P.S. Hey HRCI Can I get 1.25 Hours of Strategic credit for this post. I reference strategy several times.