Do you really understand your colleagues' lives?
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Your boss should read this now
For the past seven years Vice writer Joel Golby has written a column, London Rental Opportunity of the Week, which has provided a wittily morbid commentary on the realities of trying to survive life in the capital in your twenties and thirties.
Last week Golby brought his column to an end, and to bookend the series he wrote a 4000-word sign-off piece which, as well as being hilariously funny, serves as a vivid account of the bleakness of contemporary renting life, not just in London but across the country.
You really should read it. And so should your boss. Actually, you read it first and then make the call about them.
A few months ago I wrote about the stark realities of working life that are faced by Millennials and Gen Z workers. Anyone responsible for teams or who works in an organisation shouldn’t ignore the impact of these trends on the lives of their colleagues.
Politics serves to exacerbate these trends. Homeowners are often fixated on the value of their biggest asset and vote to protect it. As a result there’s been limited incentive for the governing party to build new homes in recent years. Every year the government's homebuilding target is missed and prices have trended upwards.
Average house price, UK, January 2005 to November 2022
(Of course, London property prices have risen even more)
Memory can play mean tricks on us. If our own experience of our twenties was characterised by financial struggles, the mistake we can make is thinking the hardships of today’s young people are equivalent to the challenges that we ourselves experienced.
This matters for anyone trying to create positive workplace environments for their team. Increasingly I’ve witnessed team building techniques that have worked in the past being dismissed by younger members of the team. They just aren’t here for this BS. They’re barely getting by and the prospect of saving for a pension or a house is a cruel dream.
Work isn’t proving to be a fulfilling part of their life, and doesn’t look likely to in the near future.
CEO Pay Gap Exacerbates the Challenge
This is an area where a growing CEO pay gap is exacerbating a sense of ‘them’ and ‘us’, leading to rising discontent in young workers. Here’s what the TUC’s CEO pay report said about the most recent year of data:
The median FTSE 250 CEO was paid £1.72 million in 2021, a 38% increase on the 2020 figure of £1.25 million
The median FTSE 250 CEO is paid 55 times the median UK worker. This is an increase from 40:1 in 2020
There’s an even worse story in the US where their (vast) CEO pay gap has increased in the wake of the pandemic. The median pay ratio in the US is that CEOs earn 245 times what their average employee earns. (Andy Jassy at Amazon earned 6474 times what the average Amazon employee took home). Bananas.
In 2021 Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren proposed legislation that would impose additional taxes on companies where the CEO to worker pay ratio is 50:1 or higher.
All of this matters because one of the biggest motivators of us being connected to our jobs is a strong sense of shared identity. Thinking about colleagues as ‘we’ or ‘us’.
So often in workplace culture, we find ourselves going down a rabbit hole of talking about ‘purpose’. We hear talk that younger workers want to do purpose-fuelled jobs. In my opinion there’s good reason to be cautious about this, a better way to think about motivation is thinking about shared identity. Do I feel that my boss is a good reflection of us as a group? Do I feel part of something?
This wonderful article by Jay Van Bavel and Dominic Packer shows the importance of this, of leaders creating a sense that ‘we’re all in it together’.
Further reading: Adam Grant found that the biggest predictor of motivation was a pride in the organisation and what ‘we are doing here’.
Understanding the realities of the lives of our team members, of all levels, is the surest way to building jobs that reward and inspire them in the right way. We can only feel like we’re all in it together, if you understand what situation your colleagues are truly in.
Back once again, like a renegade master, Eat Sleep Work Repeat returns.
I’ll be candid, I’ve been wrestling with the challenge of how to bring fresh thinking to the areas of work and workplace culture. There seems to be so much uncertainty and I’m strongly repelled by ‘experts’ who try to preach that they have the correct answers.
With that brief, I’ve lined up a series of episodes with guests who I think help reflect on the transformation of work that is taking place. Today’s episode is a conversation is with Amy Gallo. During the pandemic I had a wonderful discussion about work and where it was going and I was delighted to have another conversation with her two years on.
Amy is the author of Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) and The HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict. She also co-hosts the Women at Work podcast, and is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, where she writes about workplace dynamics. Amy wrote a wonderful article on psychological safety this week.
In the UK the allegations of bullying being investigated against the Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, are said to include details that he demands that all briefings are less than two pages long. He may turn out to be a bully, but his insistence on brevity is correct, writes Harry Wallop.
Longsighted politicians need to be thinking about the butterfly effect of evolving working. Changed working patterns are costing Manhattan $12 billion in lost spending per year
Their ‘Return to the office’ push has alienated members of the Taliban, who miss the thrill of fighting jihad.