Big companies…are they thinking about change?

imgresThe last decade has been all about the start-up.  Kids graduating from college want to go work in them and they want to start their own.  Some of these companies have become quite large and I can’t help but wonder at what point does their marketshare grow to a point where the companies of old die and the new ones take its place.  Perhaps I am ahead of myself here but what is clear is that big companies need to change their cultures.

There seems to be a desire of large companies to make those cultural changes which is a good thing.  The data points to that most employees are unhappy.  Catchafire has begun to work with large companies to create opportunities for employees to give back and feel like they are making a difference vs sitting behind a desk every day.  Being socially responsible is a big point for millennials and the kids graduating from college now.  How do these big companies fill the desire of their employees for creativity, social responsibility and above all else flexibility in their lives for themselves and their families.  There are companies helping big corporations think about this including HR arms giving employees access to coaches.  Start-ups have been able to do that because they are agile and large companies are not.  It is not easy turning around a big cruise ship but the time is now.

The next decade we will see a big shift in the start-up culture.  Perhaps less opportunities and small companies with a need for less employees.  Small companies will grow into big companies and will hopefully not change the culture they build the company on.  People need to bring a paycheck home.  Thinking about how to create happy cultures in large corporations should be the number one on the agenda in the year to come.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Been doing a gig where I’m selling into the largest enterprises.They are not adverse to change. They are not adverse doing something good. They do need to put it in economic terms.For example there is a direct line between flexible frictionless employment and worker productivity. If you are managing 50K people you care about whether your employees are happy but you really care if worker happiness increases productivity by 2.5%Selling smartly serves the needs of buyer and seller. For the enterprise, that is how I do it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I like it. Five years ago it would have looked different

      1. awaldstein

        Yup. You need to sell them a future that they are unwilling not to be part of and this maps honestly to the gender piece a lot.The payrolls of the enterprises have not grown in proportion to the number of people because there are more on demand, part time, flex time remote and specialists positions, That is the status quo. This maps well to a receptive climate for diversity change as long as you create the right language.Kinda like political change in a way.

        1. Gotham Gal

          well we are certainly seeing political change happen everywhere.

  2. LE

    The data points to that most employees are unhappy.I think that is similar to saying that most people are unhappy in their relationships perhaps. I don’t know if either statement is true or how true. And I actually question that “most employees are unhappy” at least unhappy for valid reasons. If they are unhappy it’s because there is a disconnect between their value to the company that they work for and/or because the other employees are creating competition for them [1] [2] which makes their life harder. Or maybe just because guess what? Work is not always fun. Not everything I do is fun and can do pretty much what I want but I still have work that is not fun to do.My daughter was lucky to get a job after graduating last year at a non-profit in NYC and got a raise 2 years in a row (one major, one minor). But when she first got the job she actually said to me “is this all there is and what it’s about?”. Yeah it is. And that’s with really liking what she does, who she works for, who she works with, and the fact that she has an apartment in NYC in a nice area (partially paid for by me) to boot. She actually said that. She doesn’t feel that now. She has adjusted to the fact that in life you have to do work and it’s not fun to work at every part of your job every day and get a few weeks off for vacation. When we were growing up that was not our attitude, right? I am sure you were thrilled for your first job at Macy’s (iirc) and the fact that your work life was beginning. And Macy’s back then is probably nothing like companies now are with recent graduates.My other daughter is in London for 4 months for a semester. All I get is pictures of a zillion places she has gone on the weekends and the fun she is having. Last night she sent me a selfie of her and her friends with Russel Crowe at some movie premiere. Of course it’s going to be a buzz kill when she graduates next year and actually has to work every day and can’t travel all over Europe and get school credit.How do these big companies fill the desire of their employees for creativity, social responsibility and above all else flexibility in their lives for themselves and their families.There was an article (NYT or WSJ) about how Goldman Sachs is having to change the way it handles new recruits. That amazes me I would have died to get a job at a place like that after college.[1] Just like other investors will make your job much harder by their actions or how honest and/or hard working they are for example.[2] The “disconnect” is also the reason many people have a hard time dating. They don’t recognize they can’t get everything they want in another person they have to be reasonable with their “feature” list.

  3. Jenna Abdou

    Love this post, Joanne. Thank you. Touched on questions I’ve been thinking about. Would love to hear your take on these two in potential future posts: What are your thoughts on larger companies acquiring innovation rather than creating their own (i.e. General Mills investing in Kite Hill, a vegan cheese company)? Then, would love to learn more about startups that have grown up and maintained their culture. Also, is it possible to do so when you are acquired by a larger company? How is the culture of each party influenced? Thanks for all you do!!