The "Future Former Employee" Test Of Corporate Culture: Consulting Your Inner Starbucks (Or Walmart)

Jan 29 2014, 10:51pm CST | by

One way to view your work as an employer, a leader, a creator of corporate culture, is to think of each person you hire and nurture at your company as your “future former employee.” What do you want that former employee’s story to be, looking back at their years of working for you? How they were hired, how they were employed, even how they separated or were separated from the company?

Think of each person you hire as “your future former employee”

Extend that even more: What would your employees’ families and friends say about your company? Would they say you watched out for them, gave them opportunities to advance, involved them in designing their own work? Actively supported them in their goals, even, for that matter, kept track of what those goals were in the first place?

Did you just just use them to fill a gap in your org chart or did you value their input and the judgment and humanity involved, ideally, in doing great work?

 Are you a Starbucks or a Target, a Walmart or a Costco?

What about much less subtle issues, the literally life and death, bankruptcy vs. not issues: Do you want to be remembered as someone in a position of power at Walmart or Target will be remembered, for having actively recruited people to work fewer than 30 hours–and then dropping their health benefits, using politics as cover?

Do you think that sportsmanlike language you called them — “our team members” — will stick with your future former employee, or the bitterness of having to hold a bake sale to cover medical costs after they contracted a debilitating illness?

My guess is that you’ll feel better (in this visualization and in real life) knowing you’d acted more like Starbucks or Costco:  That you had committed to offering insurance for all workers, and then made sure that happened, regardless of number of hours regularly worked? How would the employees themselves feel? And their families? And the communities they are parts of?


These are heavy duty questions, but far from hypothetical. Most of us have former employees (through their choice, through our choice, and through the unfortunate vagaries of life in the world of corporate mergers and disintegration). Some would say nice things about us. Some otherwise. And, I have to be honest, I think it makes a difference. You’re only on this earth a short time. Ditto for those you employ. Let’s make it a good time.

Source: Forbes Business


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