Happy, Contented Employees: A Luxury of the Past or the Wave of the Future?
Last week marked my first month at 360 Live Media. And since I’ve been given this platform, I’m going to use it to boast about my new agency.
Mind you, not out of selfish pride, but rather because I have come to believe 360 Live Media is a model corporate America would be wise to emulate—happy, contented employees, generous benefits like a robust 401k plan, profit sharing and ample opportunity and training for both personal and professional growth.
Sadly, though, the agency is a model corporate America has strayed far from in recent years.
In fact, unlike the average 360 employee, the average American worker hasn’t seen even 1¢ in increased income versus inflation since 1979. This, despite an 80% increase in productivity.
Somewhere around that time, the way employees were compensated decoupled from the way executives were. It used to be when executives’ salaries increased X percentage points, employee salaries would track right along with it, but since 1979, employee salaries have flat-lined.
Fact is, for most of the 20th century it was the lowest 90% of America who earned the lion share of all new generated income. In fact, during the period of robust economic growth between World War II and 1979, the lowest 90% of the population accounted for 67% of all new income, with the wealthiest 10% accounting for just 33%. Contrast that with the rapid economic expansion that occurred between 2000 and 2007. During that period, 100% of the fruits of the superheated economy went entirely to the wealthiest 10%, with no income growth trickling down to rest of the country.
There have been many reasons attributed to this decoupling: technology, globalization and even greed.
Not surprisingly, during this time where both income growth and employee benefits have become increasingly hard to come by, employees have shown much less inclination to stick with an employer for long. A not so surprising 50% of American employees say they would jump ship for better benefits.
As a result, corporate America is finding it increasingly difficult to retain and attract qualified employees.
360 Live Media, on the other hand, is a creative agency in more ways than simply the work it produces. The agency has made enriching its employees, both personally and professionally, as high a priority as the high caliber of work it produces.
Its employees are not only expected to contribute to the success of the agency, but share in it. Its generous profit sharing, 401K contributions, family leave, and, even, sponsored Wednesday lunches and a bottomless snack wall are a rarity in corporate America.
Or, if you were born post 1979—unheard of.