A few years ago the CEO of Gravity Payments, Dan Price, decided to change the pay structure at his company to ensure a better and happier workplace. He decided to make the base salary $70,000 and it changed the lives of all employees for the better. The company has tippled its revenue since the change in 2015, employees are able to afford housing, and employee pension contributions are up. This is how you create a happy productive workforce!
Hopefully more companies will realize that actually paying workers what they are worth will make the entire corporation better.
Breathing in the crisp mountain air as he hiked with Valerie, Price had an idea. He had read a study by the Nobel prize-winning economists Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, looking at how much money an American needs to be happy. He immediately promised Valerie he would significantly raise the minimum salary at Gravity.
After crunching the numbers, he arrived at the figure of $70,000. He realised that he would not only have to slash his salary, but also mortgage his two houses and give up his stocks and savings. He gathered his staff together and gave them the news.
He’d expected scenes of celebration, but at first the announcement floated down upon the room in something of an anti-climax, Price says. He had to repeat himself before the enormity of what was happening landed.
It’s ok to be lazy.
In fact, incorporating come lazy behaviours into your work might make you more productive. As counter-intuitive as that sounds, it’s true. There are certain tricks that you can easily incorporate into your day to day at work to enhance what you do, even though others might think those tricks are lazy. Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying no to work that isn’t yours to do and other times it’s taking a break.
6. Taking regular vacations.
“If you love what you do, every day is a vacation.” Nice in theory, lousy in practice. Even if you love your job, taking space from the work you do and having your mind elsewhere is essential to break out of the habit patterns that keep you stuck in your work.
In a discussion on travel between journalist Ezra Klein and economist Tyler Cowen, Klein remarked that he often feels exhausted from travel. Cowen responded that he is able to travel so much, because he treats travel with the seriousness most people apply to work. Instead of expecting it to be leisure, he sees it as an opportunity to expand his knowledge.
I agree with Cowen. Travel is not the only way to broaden your mind, but regularly going somewhere new—physically or mentally—is essential to avoid getting stuck in stale habits. Your routines eventually prevent you from discovering creative new solutions. Seeing and discovering new things is essential to prevent becoming inflexible in your thoughts and actions.
To make a company more efficient and innovative all that’s needed is a suggestion box. It turns out that listening to employees can increase the effectiveness of a company no matter how you do it. So if a suggestion box is too old school you can use a Slack channel or any other form of open communication. I’m sure this technique of listening to people who actually put the effort into a task can be applied elsewhere too.
Micah Johnson of GoFanbase, Inc., shared with Small Business Trends that his company created a Slack channel where employees can submit their ideas. Tomer Bar-Zeev of IronSource said that 24-hour hackathons enable his innovation team to break from their usual projects and work on entirely different, new projects. At my company, JotForm, we hold weekly Demo Days to give employees a forum to explore their ideas, no matter how far-fetched.
Even a system as simple as a suggestion box can be highly effective. Just ask Charlie Ward, the engineer who used Amazon’s digital suggestion box to submit his idea for free shipping, which eventually formed the basis of Amazon Prime. As journalist Brad Stone wrote in his book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, CEO Jeff Bezos was reportedly “immediately enchanted by the idea.”
The last century witnessed multiple calls for shorter work days (8 hours!) and more vacation time; this century we’ve been focussed on helping companies make more money. We presently live in a culture that values “productivity” over all else and many take it as a point of pride that they have little leisure time. What if we changed that and set our sites on making our working lives easier? That’s the question being asked over at The Week, and it’s worth considering.
I am struck by this unquestioning assumption that people ought to make their choices based on “business logic.” Is the idea that the government ought to help us carve out the time and space to dip our toes in the ocean or watch birds at the park just for the sake of it so inappropriate or bizarre?
It wasn’t always this way. More than 100 years ago, states began listening to workers’ demands and limiting the hours employers could make people work. Later, in the 1930s and ’40s, the federal government did the same thing on the national level. And governments didn’t just guarantee people the free time to pay attention to things one might deem “unproductive” — they also helped them find unproductive things to do. Indeed, early 20th-century political leaders made playgrounds and public spaces a priority. Teddy Roosevelt, who helped create the national parks system, ensuring Americans’ access to wild and beautiful places, frequently described the power of nature in decidedly non-instrumental terms. “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm,” he once wrote.
Foodora workers are looking for justice for the way they have been ripped off and poorly treated by Foodora. Foodora is like any other gig economy company insofar that it takes an existing business model but places the operating costs onto independent contractors. Due to legal loopholes Foodora workers are easier to exploit and get less protection than workers labelled as employees – and this issue isn’t unique to Foodora. Most gig economy “jobs” are questionable.
In the USA, Trump’s anti-labour government has failed to protect workers so individual states are starting to act. California is looking at legislation to protect people who work in the gig economy.
Last Wednesday, the California assembly passed legislation codifying an important California supreme court decision: in order for companies to treat workers as independent contractors, the workers must be free from company control, doing work that’s not central to the company’s business, and have an independent business in that trade.
Whatever national rule eventually emerges for defining gig workers, they’ll need a different system of social insurance than was the case when steady full-time employment was the norm.
For example, they need income insurance rather than unemployment insurance. One model: If someone’s monthly income dips below their average monthly income from all jobs over the preceding five years, they automatically receive half the difference for up to a year.