Corona Crisis: Separating The Good From The Bad

Pim
Written by
- 4 min read

Nothing reveals character like a crisis. As corona spreads, companies reveal their true colors. Some seem rotten to the core. Others show tenderness, love, and care.

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Recently I wrote about different approaches to remote work during the pandemic (see  remote work tips). One (Basecamp) was based on trust, and the other (The Wall Street Journal) on a complete lack of affection.

True colors

As the crisis spreads, more companies show their true colors. Some do everything they can to support employees, customers, suppliers, and communities. Others double down on micromanagement, control, and distrust.

The bad

Axos Financial Inc.

This online banking company pushes micromanagement to a new level. Bloomberg called this out after an internal message from the company's CEO, Gregory Garrabrants:

"'We have seen individuals taking unfair advantage of flexible work arrangements' by essentially taking vacations [...]. If daily tasks aren’t completed, workers 'will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.'"

An Axos spokesman explained: “the enhanced monitoring of at-home employees we implemented will ensure that those members of our workforce who work from home will continue to meet quality and productivity standards that are expected from all workers".

"Welcome to 1984!", George Orwell would say.

Here's another lovely touch from Axos Financial Inc. When the spokesman was asked if Garrabrants - one of America's highest-paid bank CEOs - is subject to the same Big Brother surveillance scheme, he declined to comment.

What a great place to work!

Surveillance swell

Painfully, companies supplying surveillance software have seen demand explode recently. Companies like Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak, Hubstaff and InterGuard benefit from the huge lack of trust that characterizes today's workplaces.

Proudly, their websites boast the many possibilities when it comes to employee monitoring (a.k.a. micro-management gone wild).

Take a deep breath - this stuff will make you sick.

  • Track login / logoff times
  • Track number of emails sent
  • Track active and idle time
  • Continuous screenshots
  • Screenshots when specific words are typed (like 'job search')
  • Identify frequently used unproductive apps or websites
  • GPS location tracker
  • Social media activity reports
  • 'Anomaly detection' (i.e. when a person sends more/less emails than usually)
  • Keystroke logging

For fuck's sake, people.

The good

On the other side of the spectrum there are organizations that really care about employees and, especially in tough times, put them first.

Gravity Payments

One is Seattle based Bucket List pioneer Gravity Payments. CEO Dan Price is known for once taking a million-dollar pay cut so his staff could make at least $70,000. It is one reason for his nomination as "best boss in America".

This time, Gravity Payment's existence was threatened by COVID-19. The credit card processing company saw revenues drop by 50%. The options for Price were clear: lay off 20 percent of employees or go bankrupt.

He chose neither. Dan: "As CEO, I told all employees our full financial situation. I asked all 200 of them what they would do." This time, the staff were the ones making the bold move. After 40 hours of conversations, 98% volunteered to take temporary pay cuts.

Some offered to take a 50% cut, or to work for free. Price would not allow that. But pay was cut by ~20%. And Price cut his to $0!

Lay-offs

The result? No lay-offs. Price: "This was the most humbling experience of my life. [...] Just like the corona virus we all have to work together to defeat it."

Dan Price criticizes the approach of companies like Boeing, who are about to cut jobs after:

  • Giving the CEO it fired over the recent 737 MAX scandal $80.7M on the way out, enough to pay 939 workers' salary
  • Getting up to $17B in COVID aid
  • Spending 74% of free cash flow on buybacks in the last 10 years
  • Receiving a $8.7B subsidy from Washington state.

Judgment day

The current crisis will continue to push companies toward losses, both human and financial. There is no denying that. But it is how you deal with such shitty situations that define you. Now is the time to show your true colors.

And even if you fucked-up with first actions and shitty reflexes, now is the time to fix things. To paraphrase Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator: What you do now echoes for eternity.

I'm curious to hear more about the 'good' and the 'bad' responses. Drop a note on the ones you know about in the comments below.

Pim
Written by Pim
1 month ago

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Replies (20)

Pim

Pim

Lovely initiative, Lotte! Keep fighting the good fight.

With help of TMC's Entrepreneurial Lab we now have an entire program running of at least six innovative 'COVID_19' projects. Of course, all voluntary and non-profit. During the first Digital Pizza Session in which Antonio kicked off his initiative more than 100 TMC Employeneurs worldwide joined. We do not know yet how and where we can boost and speed up technology based solutions, but we are working our asses off to at least contribute to this crisis.

Lotte Geertsen

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Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart

At Happy, as principally a classroom training provider, we lost 80% of our income in 3 days. Ouch, that was scary.

However we have built up reserves for just such an eventuality. (I read once that Bill Gates aimed for Microsoft to have one year of salary and expenses in the bank. Seemed like a good idea.)

So we have guaranteed all our staff that they will receive full salary for at least six months. 9 have been put on furlough (where the UK government provides 80% of salary for those not working) but we are topping up that 80% to the full salary.

Fingers crossed that things get back to normal by then or soon after. (or will there be a massive recession......?)

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Aaron Rieske

Aaron Rieske

I could tell Boeing would be a bad company to work for when I talked to their recruiters at a job fair. They were disrespectful and impatient.

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Michael Cassiers

Michael Cassiers

[quote]However we have built up reserves for just such an eventuality. (I read once that Bill Gates aimed for Microsoft to have one year of salary and expenses in the bank. Seemed like a good idea.)

So we have guaranteed all our staff that they will receive full salary for at least six months.[/quote]

Congratulations, Mr Stewart! As amazing and inspiring this is (and your company's overall approach IS very inspiring), it should be the norm for companies to strive for.

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Tania

Tania

https://didtheyhelp.com

Pedro Faspar Fernand

Thank you for sharing this, I am borrowing it! :)

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Farooq

Farooq

A day before a bunch of us were laid off, my boss was telling us that how we have got to stick together and work through this as a family. The next day I am on a one minute termination call with the same boss telling me the company has accelerated cost saving measures due to financial impact of COVID-19 and I am being impacted by it.

Within minutes my network access was revoked and got a call that someone will be visiting my home to pick-up company assets such as laptop, badge, etc.

I think the COVID-19 is really showing if CEO's can walk the talk when they talk about leadership and empathy.

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lauren

lauren

A family owned danish company acquired a division of an US company, US co, was clever put a condition saying they cant layoff any employee for two years. Danish co, used Covid as a reason and laid off employees and pay cut, a day before lock downs! pathetic, we dont know how many are using like this!

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Pim

Pim

Ouch.. What another painful example 😭

The next day I am on a one minute termination call with the same boss telling me the company has accelerated cost saving measures due to financial impact of COVID-19 and I am being impacted by it.

Within minutes my network access was revoked and got a call that someone will be visiting my home to pick-up company assets such as laptop, badge, etc.

I think the COVID-19 is really showing if CEO's can walk the talk when they talk about leadership and empathy.

Farooq

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Lynden

Lynden

One the one hand, the Covid19 situation is forcing some much needed conversations and re-examinations of our society and how we work but - for f**ks sake everyone - it's really not that big of a deal. It's just something sudden, which is what primates happen to be good at responding to. And it's affecting rich westerners. At MOST it's going to kill maybe 250k people. At MOST.

Every year, EVERY SINGLE YEAR, year in, year out, 500,000 children die of completely preventable diarrhoea. But they are poor people, in poor countries, far away from white rich westerners. No one gives a sh*t.

So let's get some perspective shall we? Covid19 will kill quite a few people. But what governments are doing is a massive social over-reaction and compared to the total lack of action of things that are killing a lot more people (albeit poor people), it is quite frankly hypocritical.

If only we reacted with such focus about children dying of diarrhoea through a lack of clean drinking water, or climate change, which could actually kill us all, wow. Wouldn't that be great? But no, we go into a complete tizzy about a virus that won't even make a dent in the global population. Just fantastic.

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Harry

Harry

Crisis reveals character indeed and this article can be the catalyst in revealing it faster!

My previous company was highly affected by the Covid-19 crisis like many others. However, due to wrong crisis handling and other personal reasons I decided to resign by giving the proper notice period of 2 weeks, plus 1 more week in order for everything to run smoothly, to do my handover and to support my colleagues the most I could.

In the meantime you posted this article and I shared in my personal social media account. A couple of days later, I was called to leave the company immediately, not even keeping the aforementioned notice period, because a C-level member saw my post and considered it to be negatively affecting the company's environment and the employees' morale. Can you imagine?! :-)

Let's keep up the work of revealing these true colours!

| | 0 | Flag
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