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Snow Crazed

Creative Commons License photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI

Our blog and press release last week regarding how companies deal with extreme weather generated a lot of interest. I’ve had interviews with the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal radio, and HR Executive – all looking to follow up on what employers should do to prepare for and manage through extreme weather conditions. The AP article ran in many print and online newspapers across the US. The survey results and/or the AP article were referenced in dozens of television and radio broadcasts. The Boston Business Journal opened up their own survey on employer behavior on snowy days that indicates employees wish their employers would act more quickly to send them home when the weather is bad.

The level of attention this survey received points to the universal human desires it surfaces around our need to be treated with consideration and respect. People want to believe that their employers care about them, but when employers put business ahead of human welfare, that trust is undermined. On the other hand, severe weather conditions create an opportunity for workplace colleagues to connect with each other around a shared experience external to their work.

What are your war stories about weather and work?

Dealing with Extreme Weather: An Inconvenient Truce

boston traffic gridlock during a winter storm

Today we’ve released the results of our most recent survey concerning the impact on the workplace of extreme weather. In Boston, we’ve had several severe workday snowstorms this year that ground the region to a halt. The picture here is from our storm on December 13th – when just about everyone’s commute became a nightmare. My one hour commute stretched to three, and I seriously considered abandoning the Mini Cooper in a snowbank. I was relatively fortunate to have a back road alternative. Other friends and colleagues spent up to six or seven hours getting home. Across the country, similar snow, wind and/or rain conditions have made this winter especially brutal.In our survey of 2810 working adults, 33% of respondents indicated that their commutes had been impacted by severe weather in the last 3 months. Once at work, employees note they are distracted from their jobs by concerns about how their commute will be impacted when they do leave, how they’ll provide alternative childcare or pick up arrangements, when or if their employers will decide to close early, etc. Employers, in turn, grapple with assessing the true severity of expected storms and determining the best course to ensure the safety of their employees while minimizing the adverse impact of closing or cutting back on staff. Read more


How can corporations share the love?

love-starbucks.jpgIn the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we share an article entitled “Corporate Philanthropy: Breakthrough or Buzzwords?” by our board member, Ruth Bramson.   After a long corporate career, Ruth has recently joined Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts  as their CEO.  In this article, Ruth explores the positive relationship between philanthropy and both customer and employee engagement.  In addition, she offers suggestions for how corporations can get involved in philanthropy in ways that align their corporate vision and values (and results) with the organizations they support.

If you’re interested in a different viewpoint on this issue, a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Doing Well by Doing Good? Don’t Count on It” , presents research that indicates that corporations that demonstrate their social responsibility via cash contributions to charities show a stronger correlation with success than those that have socially responsible corporate policies or community projects.  The authors weren’t sure what came first – deeper pockets or a predisposition to philanthropic giving.  In either case, they conclude that for many organizations, doing good may need to be its own reward.

Our discussions as a group and our personal observations lead us to come down on Ruth’s side on this issue.   Employees are proud to be associated with an organization that is contributing  to the community (see this earlier post about a philanthropic event at Kronos).  We believe that organizations that incorporate social responsibility into their mission are the kinds of places that people like to work and customers like to buy from. 

Just yesterday, I read “How Starbucks Saved My Life” by Michael Gates Gill.  This small book about life, expectations and finding dignity through work makes some powerful points about how Starbucks’ focus on corporate responsibility  engages its Partners (workers) and suppliers to create a superior customer experience, and as a result has droves of loyal consumers. 

Who are some of your favorite socially conscious organizations?