Company Culture

Weight Watchers, one of the world’s largest and most popular dieting companies, relies on its group leaders to maintain this coveted description.

These employees, mostly women, recruit and retain members globally through the nearly 50,000 face-to-face meetings they hold and run every week. Often highly educated and highly skilled, these leaders are hired after losing dozens of pounds themselves, so they are eager to help others in the familiar battle with weight loss.

The company depends on these women to literally live the brand’s promise, yet they receive poor wages, work many unpaid hours, and have even recently inundated an internal company website expressing that their hard work and dedication go unrecognized.

Sharon H. Mastracci, an expert on women’s employment at the University of Chicago, said these circumstances parallel those in other female-dominated jobs, such as child care and social work.

“Caring work is undervalued, and they’re taking for granted that you care so much you’re going to be there no matter what,” says Mastracci about Weight Watchers.

The same problem exists in one of America’s fastest growing jobs – home health care aides. Baby Boomers are aging and this field is expected to grow by 70% in the next decade, according to the Labor Department. Paul Hogan, chairman of Home Instead Senior Care – a national home care services company- plans to hire 45,000 caregivers this year alone.

Expected increase in home care aides

This overwhelming demand for people to care for those who cannot care for themselves may be difficult to meet. The nearly 2 million workers, also mostly women, that are expected to change bedpans, prepare meals and clean the homes of elderly and disabled patients are making the same wages as a teenager flipping burgers at McDonald’s. They do not receive benefits and many rely on food stamps and federal assistance to get by.

While the Obama administration has been trying to enforce laws that will protect home health care aides and Weight Watchers executives have alluded to increased compensation, no changes have taken place yet.  While some dismiss the obvious, many of these workers blame their paltry pay on the simple fact that they are female. Click here to read more about these on-going battles.

By Jacqueline Monti


On Sunday March 3rd, we joined 3,000 riders across New York City in the battle to beat cancer.Cycle for Survival

After eight hours of cycling, a few celebrity sightings and many heartwarming stories, Cycle for Survival 2013 raised over $13,510,572. Every single dollar will go to rare cancer research and exploring treatment options at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We are so proud to be part of this movement and thankful to everyone who donated.

Cycle for Survival

“What we try to do is bring the same level of rigor to people decisions that we do to engineering decisions. Our mission is to have all people decisions be informed by data.” – Prasad Setty, head of Google’s “people analytics” group

The People Operations (POPS) at Google, also known as the HR Department, monitors its people’s well-being on a scale that may seem overbearing and unreasonable to many other companies. Run by Lazlo Bock, POPS is more like a sophisticated science lab than your typical HR Department. Aiming to gain empirical evidence about every aspect of Google’s workers’ lives, the legendary perks and benefits that separate Google’s culture from its competitors are largely based on data. They turn tangible facts into reasons people should stay.

This attention to employee welfare proved beneficial when Google took a deeper look into the high attrition among female employees. They found that those leaving were predominately new mothers. At the time, Google offered new parents in its California offices 12 weeks of paid time off, but despite this industry-leading maternity leave plan, women were still leaving the company at an alarming rate. So Bock changed the plan. New mothers now get five months off with full pay and benefits and can split up their time as they see fit. After implementing the new plan, attrition among new mothers dropped by 50%.  Keeping in mind how much Google saved on attrition costs, five months paid leave didn’t cost them any more money.

Bock is revolutionizing people practices, from the size of plates in the cafeteria and length of lunch lines, to training and development. Click here to read more about how POPS is helping to make Google the country’s best employer, without affecting its bottom line.

PNC Bank is creating a building that breathes. The aim of their new headquarters, which should be completed by 2015, is to not only be energy efficient but completely people-focused. They want to create a collaborative, comfortable space for their employees to flourish while also making a connection with the community of downtown Pittsburgh, PA.

PNC Tower

From a 300-person auditorium and theater for public events to a ventilation system with automatic sensors that allows you to experience fresh open air without having to leave your desk, this skyscraper is anything but ordinary. Click here to read more about this “tower of tomorrow.”

It’s all about the “why”

Great people want to work for organizations that realize their corporate strategy must coincide with what their employees want out of a job. Employees want a purpose; they want to be truly engaged and connected, making “why” you do business just as important as what you create. For example, Starbucks serves a consistently great cup of coffee from New York to New Zealand. That’s what they do. But they do it because they want to address human labor; they want to preserve and enhance the environment and improve working conditions for coffee-origin companies. Their purpose becomes their by-product and their “why” is embedded in the way they do business. Click here to read more about why getting your culture right is so important and to see what you can learn about cultivating culture from great organizations like Zappos and the United States Marine Corps.


Maximize your brand with new resources

Trevor Tice, founder of CorePower Yoga, wants to create the first truly national yoga-studio chain. As a practice that follows a more aerobic style of yoga than a spiritual one, he plans to expand from their 65 studios to 75 by the end of 2012 while also entering new markets such as Texas, Seattle, Honolulu, California and Colorado. Tice’s growth plan is rooted in offering a consistent experience across the chain and hiring people that fit the culture of this accessible, friendly and encouraging practice. And he plans to do this all without using traditional brand marketing. Besides a few Groupon deals, CorePower is using word-of-mouth and digital marketing. For example, they invite staff from “like-minded businesses,” such as the manager of Whole Foods, to join a class in hopes they will enjoy themselves and tell their friends and colleagues. Locations for future studios are carefully researched as they focus on  urban areas populated with their target demographic of 25 to 35 year old professionals.  Click here to read more about how this small Denver-based company plans to transform the “breathing and stretching” yoga industry.


Let’s talk tech

The hiring environment for technology talent has always been competitive, but looking ahead, it’s only going to get more challenging. Tech salaries in the U.S. will rise almost twice the national average in 2013 due to the high demand for talented technical candidates. On the heels of the national shortage of IT talent, the next year will also bring an explosive growth for Big Data jobs—engineers that capture, store, search and analyze data sets that are too large for regular database management tools. Employers are looking for candidates with business knowledge along with technology expertise and analytical skills, making this an even more ruthless arena for talent. Click here to read more about the upcoming trends in the IT world.





Listening Makes You a Better Leader

Jacqueline Novogratz, chief executive of the Acumen Fund, which invests in businesses that aid the world’s poor, often works in communities where the people only make a dollar or two per day. Working in such a difficult, yet humbling environment, Novogratz has learned to be a leader that listens. She believes the best way to lead is to truly understand what the problem is from the perspective of the people you’re supposed to serve—whether that be your customers or your employees.

Novogratz takes the value of listening with her into her interviews as well. She is known for asking questions that are designed to showcase the essence of who you are, what makes you tick and what you are passionate about. She is famous for the question, “What are you doing when you feel most beautiful, when you’re in the zone, when you are shining?” By truly listening to the responses, she is able to find people who are a good fit for the company—people that have an emotional connection to the tough work they do at Acumen, not just someone looking for a stepping stone to something else. Click here to read more about Novogratz’s philosophy on listening and leadership.


Get Emotional

It’s easy to be distracted by a midst of ringing phones, a bursting inbox and an endless to-do list. But as a leader, taking the time to make an emotional connection with your people should be just as important as finishing that proposal or sending out that last email. Engaging with your people on a personal level shows them that they are more than just the sum of their output. An emotional connection isn’t necessarily about being emotional or showing emotion either. It’s about making a connection on a human level and having the ability to show that your relationship goes beyond the task at hand. Click here to read three simple ways to make these emotional connections with your people.


What Came First: Passion or Career?

Earlier this year, a New York Times op-ed referred to Generation Y as  “Generation Why Bother,” noting that this group is “high maintenance” and “perhaps too happy at home checking Facebook” when they should be out searching for jobs. According to Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University and a member of Generation Y, believes the entitled attitude stems from the promise of passion—not Facebook. Guidance counselors, career centers and news media continuously advise Generation Y to “follow their passion.” There is no doubt that everyone aims for a fulfilling work life, but this phrase implies that first you identify your passion and then match that to a job that you’ll love right away. However, a compelling career is a journey, not something that happens overnight. Click here to read Cal’s opinion about how we need to speak in an honest, yet inspiring way when discussing the realities of the working world.