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Old 03-12-2014, 07:40 PM   #21
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... No question (job) supply & (employee) demand is a significant factor among several. But you don't think the fixation on very short term earnings/results by public corporations (unlike a few generations ago) and globalization have played a role?
Well, I have no data to back it up, but it seems reasonable that short term thinking (driven by the speed of the internet, CEOs getting short term rewards from their BOD friends, etc) has played a role. I'd say that globalization is just a factor in supply/demand.



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I suspect you'd both agree with most that the workplace has generally become less employee friendly over our (boomer) lifetimes, the fundamental question was why (in our lifetimes)?

Hmmmmm, ...... undecided.

I stared work at MegaCorp in the mid 70's. Many jobs were considered 'women's work'. A few years later, 'diversity' programs were started, and while I might disagree with how they were done, I think I'd agree that there was a valid reason for them. Would a person with some physical handicaps have been accommodated? It's different - better or worse may depend on lots of things.

Also, In the 2000's, I was not the same person nor at the same level as I was in the 1970's. Comparisons are difficult, we come from a different perspective. Though I'll say that email and 2-way pagers and cell phones sped things up, and that could cause a lot of stress. But they also relieve stress (hey, with a call/click I can find out that was taken care of - relax!).


I'll go back to the supply/demand thing as the main driver, along with short-term thinking. And I guess, the time's (and each of us) they are a-changing.

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Old 03-12-2014, 08:39 PM   #22
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Old 03-12-2014, 10:44 PM   #23
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Like Costco?

And for what it's worth, adding value for shareholders is not, itself, "wrecking" American business. The overemphasis on *this* quarter's earnings, even to the detriment of longer term growth prospects, the fixation on Wall Street's demands to "hit the numbers" this quarter and EVERY quarter, well, THAT is (IMO) a big part of the problem. Privately held companies not only have the luxury of treating employees better if they choose (no Wall Streeters to demand they slash wages and issue pink slips), but they can also manage with an eye on a much longer period of time than obsessing about *this* quarter. It's not an accident that more and more of the "best places to work" on the prominent lists each year are privately held.
I have to agree that privately held companies are probably the best places to work these days, and I have worked for one over a decade in the past and it was not all peaches and cream.

In profitable ones, greed can set in and the owner (or small group of owners) can make life tough on the employees and do so with minimal Board intervention or any regulatory scrutiny. Situations created by management could include micro managing, compromised decision making, setting people up for failure, favoritism etc.

Some smaller, privately held companies can also suffer from what's called the "founder's dilemma" which could stagnate growth and become a deterrent to business expansion, etc.

A good read:

The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup (Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship): Noam Wasserman: 9780691149134: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 03-13-2014, 02:47 AM   #24
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U.S. workers work the most hours of any country in the world, and have less vacation time than medieval peasants -

Why a medieval peasant got more vacation time than you | The Great Debate

"Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. “The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed,” notes Shor. “Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.” Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. is the only advanced country with no national vacation policy whatsoever. Many American workers must keep on working through public holidays, and vacation days often go unused."

It is no wonder this forum is so popular!

I'd much prefer more free time over working for some corporation that had a manager like the guy in the latest Cadillac commercial -

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/0...n_4859040.html
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:17 AM   #25
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ERD said most of what I was going to say about the good old days not being as good as we might remember them..

I also disagree that big companies any more short term oriented now than there were 10,20, or 30 years ago. In fact I'd argue that the most successful companies have incredibly long term view more so than anytime in the past.

Now I think all firms probably practice earning tricks, but short term to me means sacrifice big long-term gains for small quarterly gains. Firing works doesn't count, scrimping on safety or environmental issues, canceling R&D, and not investing in new factories, maintenance. I don't think most big Oil (BP probably is/was the exception) companies are very short term oriented. They have tons of projects which will take 5,10 even 20 years to make money. Railroad companies invested record amounts this year in infrastructure and rolling stock.

Dow companies, like Disney, 3M, JNJ, GE, Walmart all have mutli-year R&D or new facilities scheduled who's pay off is until 5, 10 or even longer. Clearly if there were obsessed with quarterly return they would skimp on these projects, but I really don't see evidence that do considering their long term track record.
Obviously Warren Buffett is the classic long term investors, with his ideal holding period being forever.

But what really impresses me is the late 90s and 2000 era tech entrepreneurs. Amazon very seldom makes money, That is because Bezo is constantly investing all the money he makes selling books etc. into Warehouse, new product lines,and wacky ideas like drones for delivery of orders. The Google guys are upfront with their investors, telling them they are investing for the long term,and don't care about short term results. Looking at Google Labs it is pretty clear they have some long term projects. Facebook is maybe not so long term focused, but don't seem to be obsessed with hitting the numbers. There are some tech companies like Zynga which are very short term focus, but they seem to be dying.

Finally you have Elon Musk, who companies have really short term goals like, electrifying transportation in the world, and colonizing Mars..
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:24 AM   #26
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"Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. “The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed,” notes Shor. “Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure.” Fast-forward to the 21st century, and the U.S. is the only advanced country with no national vacation policy whatsoever. Many American workers must keep on working through public holidays, and vacation days often go unused."
How do they find places to publish this stuff?
First, modern Americans do get more leisure time than the typical person 400 years ago because they now generally live to be older than 40, and they'll get all those weekends, vacation days, and retirement days for the 30 or so extra years they are on the planet. We can thank our increased productivity and the specialization it allows (scientists, researchers, civil engineers, etc) for this.

Secondly, that guy 400 years ago (and a great many people in the world today) spent his (short) life in privation--malnourished, hungry, and with numerous unattended-to maladies. He "enjoyed" his leisure time in his dank shack wondering if the incessant pain in his jaw was his last tooth finally rotting out. It's the greater productivity of modern man that has made our lives much less clouded by these concerns.

Lastly, anyone in America who wants all the "leisure time" of his ancestors can have it. He can not go to work, do an odd job if the mood strikes him, live on the street, and depend on others for a warm meal and a place to stay at night. Today's "Urban Outdoorsman" actually has a much more comfortable existence than his medieval forebears. This option is open to everyone, but most people turn it down, instead deciding to trade their time for money and the things they can buy with it. I'm glad they have this choice, and I respect the wisdom shown by what people are choosing. If people 400 years ago had the same opportunity to trade time for the material goods and comfort we have today, I'm sure they would have made the same choice we do.

I think some people believe ancient life was like some never-ending Renaissance Pleasure Faire, every man with a turkey leg in his hand and every woman a damsel in finery.

And as for a lack of a "national vacation policy", I say "bravo"! Maybe there will be at least one thing that remains outside the government's realm of concern, one area where adults can make mutually beneficial agreements between themselves as they see fit . . . like adults.
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:57 AM   #27
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If you ever want to see how much leisure time we have as Americans, go visit a shopping mall during the Monday to Friday daytime working hours and see the crowds in it (after you get through the traffic jams to get there).
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:59 AM   #28
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...
I'd much prefer more free time over working for some corporation that had a manager like the guy in the latest Cadillac commercial -

Cadillac Made A Commercial About The American Dream, And It's A Nightmare
I remember seeing this commercial on TV. At first I thought it was a parody, like an SNL skit, thought the guy was going to get to his car and drop dead from a heart attack. Really. The last scene would be an ambulance taking him to the hospital, or a black limousine at his funeral. I found it hard to believe that anyone would have a positive feeling about buying a car after seeing this.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:02 AM   #29
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How do they find places to publish this stuff?
This article is based on writings from people like Juliet Shor, author of the Overworked American and Overspent American.

Preindustrial workers worked fewer hours than today's

If you are looking for credentials:

Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts.

Schor is a co-founder of the South End Press and the Center for Popular Economics. She is a former Trustee of Wesleyan University, an occasional faculty member at Schumacher College, and a former fellow of the Brookings Institution. Schor has lectured widely throughout the United States, Europe and Japan to a variety of civic, business, labor and academic groups. She appears frequently on national and international media, and profiles on her and her work have appeared in scores of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and People magazine. She has appeared on 60 Minutes, the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Early Show on CBS, numerous stories on network news, as well as many other national and local television news programs.

About Juliet | Juliet Schor
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:08 AM   #30
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Well, I have no data to back it up, but it seems reasonable that short term thinking (driven by the speed of the internet, CEOs getting short term rewards from their BOD friends, etc) has played a role. I'd say that globalization is just a factor in supply/demand.
I had P&L responsibility for the last half of my career, and I well remember first hand the pressure to turn in quarterly results, we couldn't even wait that long to get costs in line so we usually had 1-2 months to act. However, I was in a mature industry, where costs had been well wrung out already.

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ERD said most of what I was going to say about the good old days not being as good as we might remember them..

I also disagree that big companies any more short term oriented now than there were 10,20, or 30 years ago. In fact I'd argue that the most successful companies have incredibly long term view more so than anytime in the past.

Now I think all firms probably practice earning tricks, but short term to me means sacrifice big long-term gains for small quarterly gains. Firing works doesn't count, scrimping on safety or environmental issues, canceling R&D, and not investing in new factories, maintenance. I don't think most big Oil (BP probably is/was the exception) companies are very short term oriented. They have tons of projects which will take 5,10 even 20 years to make money. Railroad companies invested record amounts this year in infrastructure and rolling stock.

Dow companies, like Disney, 3M, JNJ, GE, Walmart all have mutli-year R&D or new facilities scheduled who's pay off is until 5, 10 or even longer. Clearly if there were obsessed with quarterly return they would skimp on these projects, but I really don't see evidence that do considering their long term track record.
Obviously Warren Buffett is the classic long term investors, with his ideal holding period being forever.

But what really impresses me is the late 90s and 2000 era tech entrepreneurs. Amazon very seldom makes money, That is because Bezo is constantly investing all the money he makes selling books etc. into Warehouse, new product lines,and wacky ideas like drones for delivery of orders. The Google guys are upfront with their investors, telling them they are investing for the long term,and don't care about short term results. Looking at Google Labs it is pretty clear they have some long term projects. Facebook is maybe not so long term focused, but don't seem to be obsessed with hitting the numbers. There are some tech companies like Zynga which are very short term focus, but they seem to be dying.

Finally you have Elon Musk, who companies have really short term goals like, electrifying transportation in the world, and colonizing Mars..
I hope you're right, and I don't have a foundation to dispute your well reasoned POV. I know what the last 10-15 years have been like first hand (and through peers), but I did not have P&L responsibility 20-30 years ago. No matter how hard we try, we're probably all guilty of thick rose colored glasses when remembering the 'good old days' in all aspects of life.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:14 AM   #31
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I remember seeing this commercial on TV. At first I thought it was a parody, like an SNL skit, thought the guy was going to get to his car and drop dead from a heart attack. Really. The last scene would be an ambulance taking him to the hospital, or a black limousine at his funeral. I found it hard to believe that anyone would have a positive feeling about buying a car after seeing this.
When I saw this commercial it almost seemed like a luxury auto maker was trying to counteract the message from forums like this - work more so you can afford to buy our luxury goods, instead of working less and using your money to buy free time. The whole thing was kind of weird.

I don't understand why a manufacturer competing in a global economy would want to identify their product with an unlikeable and xenophobic American.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:15 AM   #32
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ERD said most of what I was going to say about the good old days not being as good as we might remember them..

I also disagree that big companies any more short term oriented now than there were 10,20, or 30 years ago. In fact I'd argue that the most successful companies have incredibly long term view more so than anytime in the past.
...
I think as we get older there is some selective processing of past memories. In our younger days we were much more likely to be able to put up with all the nonsense around us, or maybe not even recognize how much nonsense there really was.

I can't say for sure if I think there is more or less emphasis on the short term, or on how employees are treated, but the more I look back on my own experiences, I don't think this has changed at all.

People pay the least they can get for something, and want the most they can get for what they pay.

I remember even working for small tightly held companies where everyone knew everyone else, and the President and CFO still juggled things around every quarter to try to look good for the bank, and shareholders.

They still tried to pay their employees as little as possible and programmers still had to come to work on Saturdays to try to meet schedules that everyone knew were impossible. This was the 1980s.

I selectively remember how wonderful riding my bike down to the jetty and fishing all day was when I was young. But forget how utterly bored I was, dreaming of getting out of there to do something interesting.

Maybe the old adage is true, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Don't know, just thinking...
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:24 AM   #33
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I think as we get older there is some selective processing of past memories. In our younger days we were much more likely to be able to put up with all the nonsense around us, or maybe not even recognize how much nonsense there really was.

I can't say for sure if I think there is more or less emphasis on the short term, or on how employees are treated, but the more I look back on my own experiences, I don't think this has changed at all.

People pay the least they can get for something, and want the most they can get for what they pay.

I remember even working for small tightly held companies where everyone knew everyone else, and the President and CFO still juggled things around every quarter to try to look good for the bank, and shareholders.

They still tried to pay their employees as little as possible and programmers still had to come to work on Saturdays to try to meet schedules that everyone knew were impossible. This was the 1980s.

I selectively remember how wonderful riding my bike down to the jetty and fishing all day was when I was young. But forget how utterly bored I was, dreaming of getting out of there to do something interesting.

Maybe the old adage is true, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Don't know, just thinking...
Agreed. My 92 yo parents are convinced the world has gone completely to hell in a hand bucket compared to the 'good old days.'
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:24 AM   #34
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Everyone knows it was the TPS reports.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:01 PM   #35
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I also disagree that big companies any more short term oriented now than there were 10,20, or 30 years ago. In fact I'd argue that the most successful companies have incredibly long term view more so than anytime in the past.
By nature of their business, high tech (don't mean megacorps acting more like Dow companies) companies are very short term focused. Stock options & short term incentives make management greedy, selfish, and very short-term focused. In 2006 - 2012, my megacorp's average tenure for VP position was just little over 12 months and they knew that. No one was making long term decisions. (One of my favorite Dilbert moment is when the entire company scurries to get a few customer orders recognized in the last days of quarter so that the ensuing quarterly earnings report can look 0.1% better. Employees are reminded to log their vacation hours before the quarter end. Purchase orders are moved to next quarter. It's like they forget there is one more quarter after the current one. )
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:14 PM   #36
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ERD said most of what I was going to say about the good old days not being as good as we might remember them..

I also disagree that big companies any more short term oriented now than there were 10,20, or 30 years ago. In fact I'd argue that the most successful companies have incredibly long term view more so than anytime in the past. ....

Dow companies, like Disney, 3M, JNJ, GE, Walmart all have mutli-year R&D or new facilities scheduled who's pay off is until 5, 10 or even longer. Clearly if there were obsessed with quarterly return they would skimp on these projects, but I really don't see evidence that do considering their long term track record. ...
Interesting counter-point. Perhaps I let myself get drawn into the 'conventional wisdom' group-think?

Well, I put myself squarely into the 'yes, no, maybe' camp on this topic!

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.... (One of my favorite Dilbert moment is when the entire company scurries to get a few customer orders recognized in the last days of quarter so that the ensuing quarterly earnings report can look 0.1% better. ...
I can assure you from first-hand experience that is nothing new, and certainly predates 'Dilbert'.

I saw it in the 80's - they would keep the dock doors open until 12:00 midnight at the EOQ, with a finance guy standing by with his clip board to certify that the shipment made it out by midnight. The managers even joked in meetings that 'so-and-so would have run over his grandmother to get another pallet-load onto the truck at 11:59!'. And this was a corp known for long-term thinking, big investments that took many years to pay off (or not), and at the time still run by the founding family.

It probably happened before then, but I do not have first-hand experience.


-ERD50
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:36 PM   #37
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....I saw it in the 80's - they would keep the dock doors open until 12:00 midnight at the EOQ, with a finance guy standing by with his clip board to certify that the shipment made it out by midnight. The managers even joked in meetings that 'so-and-so would have run over his grandmother to get another pallet-load onto the truck at 11:59!'. And this was a corp known for long-term thinking, big investments that took many years to pay off (or not), and at the time still run by the founding family....
+1 reminds me of an EOQ inventory observation I did at one of our Pennsylvania plants in the early 1980's. There was a bad snowstorm (but I made it there). As I was wrapping up I noticed a trailer parked way of in the corner of the yard. I asked the plant manager "What's in that trailer?" with an underlying tone that I was planning to trudge out there and inspect it. He conceded that it was a shipment that was ready to go but that the tractor had not made it to the plant to pick it up. We both knew he needed to add it back to the inventory and he did.

We had another plant that was under such pressure to make their numbers that it started out innocently as a shipment that was scheduled to be pickup up before the EOQ not being picked up but they put it through as a sale anyway. By the time we were called in to do a fraud audit there were units in the paint booth that were "sales". Some people were fired as a result but IMO the real culprit was unreasonable pressure from higher-ups for the plant to make their numbers.

FWIW, I think that today's CEOs and boards are way too fixated on day-to-day fluctuations in stock price rather than long term trends in their stock price. Wall Street is ridiculous as well, the way it can punish a company for missing earnings estimates by a couple pennies. I just don't get how a company can be worth 5% less than it was the day before when there is no news other than they missed earnings by a couple pennies.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:37 PM   #38
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This sees like a Boomer hairball, to put it politely. Maybe I had a different experience than everyone else, but buy the time I was in the labor force there was no "good old days." As long as I have been a worker bee, employees were an input into the production process just like electricity, raw materials, etc. As a result, I always had a mercenary attitude and treated each job as a consulting engagement, regardless of the representations of each employer. What is this employer loyalty you speak of?

I can only imagine what the Gen Yers think of all this stuff.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:45 PM   #39
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At my last job my director used to refer to the people on my staff as FTEs (full time equivalent units). Upper management used to try to spread the work out based just on FTEs, like people were interchangeble Lego pieces, regardless of skill set. Like any old FTEs will do to work on this project that requires expert skills in artificial intelligence and Assembler language programming. (I'm not just saying that to be funny, that actually happened.)
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:50 PM   #40
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At my last job my director used to refer to the people on my staff as FTEs (full time equivalent units). Upper management used to try to spread the work out based just on FTEs, like people were interchangeble Lego pieces, regardless of skill set. Like any old FTEs will do to work on this project that requires expert skills in artificial intelligence and Assembler language programming. (I'm not just saying that to be funny, that actually happened.)
The thing that used to bug the hell out of me was management believing that any problem could be solved by throwing people at it and not recognizing that they needed people with the requisite skills. I remember in a meeting once trying to explain it to some imbecile as while one woman can make a baby in 9 months that 9 women can't make a baby in a month. I "think" at that point he got it.
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