One of the biggest decisions that people will make in how they choose to live is where they will choose to work. Increasingly, Americansare choosing to work for large corporations. In 1988, 45.5% of employees in the U.S. worked for companies with over 500 employees. Over the next 20 years that percentage rose to 50.6% in 2008.
But what are people finding when they take a job in corporate America? In recentyears, short-term planning and stress have become the order of the day. This all started in the 1980s with the advent of cablenews and financial news networks, and escalated in the 1990s with the emergence of the Internet.
Twenty years ago, public corporations published yesterday’s stock prices in the daily newspaper and spent months preparingannual reports to mail to their shareholders, extolling grand visions of the company’s bright, long-term future. In today’s virtual business reality, stock prices are tracked in real time by millions of people and quarterly webcasts come out within a few days of the end of the quarter. The easily spooked herd of investors stampedes at every rumor. And corporate officers get fired faster than basketball coaches.
Most public companies have responded by throwing long-term planning out the boardroom window. The current economic crisis is largely a result of massive short term planning on the part of lending institutions. Providing adjustable rate mortgages to millions of people with shaky credit resulted in short term revenue victories followed by long-term disaster. The people working for such companies are threatened with downsizing and pressed for quick sales gains every three months. This is a toxic environment that half of the American work force may be exposed to.
Seek out a quality work environment
So how can you thrive in this short-term business world? One way is to find (or found) a company capable and interested in long term planning. It may even require major changes in your own business behavior. A long-term approach can be as simple as treating clients and vendors with integrity and respect, encouraging them to seek lasting relationships with you. Entrepreneurs tend to have a talent for envisioning the long-term success of a company. Companies that still have the founding entrepreneur in charge stand a better chance of having a corporate culture where an immortal employee may flourish. How can you assess a corporate culture for how it treats its employees before you start working there? One way is to see if quality of life comes up in the job interview. It will if the interviewer and the corporate culture are concerned with the welfare of employees.
But while you’re looking for all these signs in prospective employers, make sure you look for the same signs in yourself. Are you the office martyr willing to drain yourself for the good of the team? Or do you understand that your own wellbeing is really what’s best for the team as well.
Is work a place you enjoy being? Or are you just tolerating it and living for the weekends? Because living two days a week is dying the other five days. Learn to recognize these death-oriented behaviors and put yourself in an environment that is conducive to overcoming them. Associate with long-term planners and let your body learn from them. Make an organic connection with people who plan to be around for a long time and are living their lives accordingly.
Craig McClure has 30 years experience in marketing and sales. He founded, operated and successfully sold CreativeWare, Inc., a software reseller. He currently provides marketing and sales consulting services.by