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Why The Corporate Culture Is Pushing People Toward Home-Based Business

Why are more and more professionals quitting the corporate rat-race?

One answer may have more to do with why people choose to stay with their jobs in the first place, according to author and career consultant Brenda Dean Schull.

In a February 2001 article, "Job Burnout Threatens Retention" (, for SmartPros Ltd., Schull cites a 1997 survey, "The National Study of the Changing Workplace" by the Society for Human Resource Management. Schull explains that, according to the survey, employees accept their present jobs for three main reasons: open communications (65%), opportunities to balance life (60%), and meaningful work (59%).

Schull quotes Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert cartoons, as saying corporations discourage creativity. He and other employees developed their ideas outside the corporation after work.

“The corporation is designed to eliminate creativity,” Adams says in the article.

When the corporate environment stops furnishing an atmosphere of open communications, time for themselves, work that makes a difference, and creative instincts, employees begin to want to leave.

In “Can’t Buy You Love,” authors Ray Knight and Rob Sanders mention factors other than pay as determining an employee’s desire to leave.

“When people enjoy what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with, feel wanted and needed in the group, and believe firmly in what the company stands for, they’re more willing to be content with their compensation and far less likely to bolt out the door chasing the first passing temptation,” Knight and Sanders say.

In other words, when an employee says they are leaving for more pay or benefits, they more likely are really saying “The pay I get for this job isn’t worth what I have to put up with.”

A popular version of this attitude was glorified in the movie “Nine to Five” and in the song, “Take this job and shove it!”


Here are some questions you need to ask yourself when considering whether you're truly happy with your job. These questions highlight some important points that should ring alarm bells in your mind, especially if you answer “No” more than "Yes":

  • Do you bounce out of bed every morning excited to be going to work?
  • Do you enjoy dressing in the “accepted” manner for your job?
  • Do you like the morning and evening rush hour traffic?
  • Do you like being on a schedule, facing deadlines constantly?
  • Do you like being told when to report to work and when you can go home?
  • Do you like being told when you can take your vacation, and how long you can stay?
  • Do like your boss?
  • Do you like your co-workers?
  • Do you enjoy safety meetings, where you are told about the hazards of your job?
  • Do you wish you could spend more time on the job?
  • Do you have no quilt feelings when you ask for personal time off?
  • Are you being paid what you are worth?
  • Do you have no worries about your company being sold?
  • Do you have no worries about your company’s work force being reduced?
  • Do you have no worries about your job being eliminated?
  • Do you enjoy office gossip?
  • Do you enjoy office politics?
  • Do you enjoy your performance rating interviews?
  • Do you enjoy asking for raises?
  • Do you enjoy having your e-mail looked at by management?
  • Do you enjoy being told what to do by others, with your suggestions rarely recognized?
  • Do you enjoy having to justify everything you do?
  • Do you enjoy “constructive” criticism?
  • Do you enjoy required attendance at company parties, dinners, etc.?
  • Do you enjoy being solicited for charities by company personnel?
  • Do you think you will be promoted to the top of your company management?
  • Do you think you will get any promotions?
  • Do you look forward to doing what you are doing for the next 40 years?
  • Is your company going to provide enough money for you to live as you would like when you retire?
  • Are you sure your company is going to allow you to work until you are eligible for retirement?
  • Are you happy with everything in the company policy manual?
  • Are you sure your company will continue medical insurance for you when you retire?
  • Are you happy that many of the “perks” you used to have are now reduced or eliminated?
  • Are you happy that your productivity is being constantly measured?
  • Are you happy with your office or work area?
  • Do you enjoy being constantly recorded in the surveillance cameras?
  • Do you enjoy having to submit a pass to get to work?
  • Do you feel safe from physical harm at work?
  • Does work give enough flexibility to take care of your family?
  • Are you able to spend as much time as you want with your children and family?
  • Are you happy that your use of the telephone is restricted?
  • Does your company understand when you are sick and can’t work?
  • Does your company have a good pay schedule for bad weather days?
  • If you don’t feel safe getting to work in bad weather, is it O.K. with management?
  • Do you like your scheduled work hours?

(Note: I would really like to hear from you if you answered "Yes" to 50% or more of these 45 questions. Contact me at

If you answered half of these questions or more with a “Yes,” you probably should continue in your job. But watch your back. Take this little survey every six months because nothing remains the same!

For the rest of you, you should probably consider starting a home-based business on the side part-time while you continue working. Your business may save your financial life (and your sanity) in a few years.

The Human (Resources) Factor

The function of human resources (personnel) departments in all organizations is to maximize the value of a company’s human assets. Each employee has a cost, and eventually they become of some economic value just like a computer or production machine.

To accomplish its objectives for the company, the HR department performs the following functions:

1. Provides a steady stream of qualified workers so the organization can operate profitably.

2. Establishes written company policies so the organization can defend itself from employee lawsuits.

3. Trains employees to perform those functions required by the organization.

4. Determines pay scales that will attract the best people at the lowest possible cost.

5. Determines raise criteria to retain as many people as possible with lowest cost.

6. Provides benefits that will satisfy most employees at the least cost and inconvenience to the company.

7. Determines performance rating procedures that will keep maximum pressure on employees to produce but will not push most of them to quit.

8. Puts in place ways to continuously monitor actions and production of every employee.

9. Establishes ways to avoid age and health discrimination lawsuits but still allow the organization to terminate workers who know too much, are paid too much, have too many (costly) accumulated fringe benefits, or pose a potential large health insurance cost to the organization because of their age.

10. Promotes training, at company expense, that will qualify employees to do more jobs. In times of high unemployment, this tactic usually results in an employee working much harder for no additional pay. In times of low unemployment, it results in employees working harder with little extra pay.

These ideas are unpleasant to discuss, but that’s what HR does. Their mission is to increase the economic value of the work force.

For many workers this kind of corporate action becomes repulsive and unbearable. They then begin to try and find ways out.


Bear with me as I paint a picture of the way corporations use psychological manipulation to create a pliable and cooperative workforce.

In an effort to create a positive organizational culture, executives must pull together threads of knowledge from diverse areas. No one model works in all situations. That means carefully examining incentives—whether rooted in money, pride, position, recognition, or responsibility—to align individuals with corporate strategy.

In his book “The Other 80 Percent: Increasing Workforce Productivity,” Thomas Kraack asserts that 80% of the productivity in a workforce comes from 20% of employees (the Pareto Principle). Quality expert Joseph Juran calls this the “separation of the vital few from the trivial many.” It’s also known as the “80-20 rule”: 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your workforce.

Who does an employer turn to when the chips are down? To that same 20%. Over and over again. An issue for management and HR departments is how to make the other 80% more productive? Kraack says there are five levers for increasing ability, motivation, and behaviors which—if pulled at the right time—will produce more results.

1. The first lever is to develop a strong team orientation. Stephen Covey, author of "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People," maintains that a mediocre team with a high amount of synergy will always win over a team of star individuals who don’t work well together.

2. The second lever is to look at the alignment of roles and performance objectives as a balance to the first lever. Striking the right balance between individual responsibilities and team objectives empowers people in a goal-oriented manner.

3. To direct this sense further, Kraack suggests that the employer or manager should set clearer performance goals and manage toward them. Finding the right "stretch" goals for individuals is critical to making them believe they can achieve more than they think is possible.

4. Managing turnover properly is the fourth lever, whether that may be through matching people with the right positions or transferring people out of the organization with dignity.

5. Finally Kraack says that focusing on the training structures that will change behaviors will allow employees to experience new behaviors first hand.

Note that all these ideas are directed toward influencing or changing behavior in employees. Nothing is mentioned about behavior changes for managers and employers. Do we all want to be brainwashed by a corporation?

What's more, Morten T. Hansen and Michael S. Deimler discuss B2E (business communicating to its employees) management and draw the conclusion that there are three components in a comprehensive B2E program: online business processes, online people management, and online services to the company community. The mode of delivery is the integrated enterprise portal.

This all sounds fine. It is convenient for employees and lets management present ideas with less cost. The problem is there is no human interface. How is a better employee relationship to the company fostered by having to deal almost exclusively with a “non person” in the form of a computer?


In a February 2002 article "Tuning In To Next-Gen Employees" for Optimize Magazine (, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute Ellen Galinsky discusses issues affecting future young employees. These same priorities exist to some extent in every employee no matter their age.

Galinsky says that according to a 2001 survey conducted by the Families and Work Institute, 80% of young students listed four requirements of a satisfactory job:

1. Having a job that is meaningful to me.

2. Having a secure job that I don’t have to worry about losing.

3. Having work that allows me personal or family time.

4. Having a job with good benefits like health insurance.

Chances of achieving just one of these requirements in a job are very slim in today’s economic atmosphere. Even if employment becomes very strong, employers will be unable to meet these expectations because of financial and economic pressures. Besides, employer self-interest will always be superior to the interests of individual employees.

Some say that the fourth requirement listed above is assured by The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 It really sounds good; why should an employer object?

An employer can’t say no. Even though an employee is not paid, he or she can be gone for up to 12 weeks. Someone will have to cover for them. Their health insurance also continues, so the company is experiencing a significant cost with no return.

Though unable to oppose a request, the management will surely remember who took advantage of this. If something happens and the employee decides to sue, there is almost no way an illegal act could be proved. And who would bear the cost in an unsuccessful action?

Employer reaction to a Family Leave request will be similar to how they react if an employee asks for time off to participate in a family affair or child’s sporting event. Permission may be grudgingly granted, but the employee will always feel guilty and worry about their job in case of a layoff.

These young people would do well to start their own home-based business right now so they can learn how to succeed on their own. By working for themselves, they will be able to have everything they cannot have in the corporate world.

The Optimize Magazine article mentions something else foremost in everyone’s mind: personal security after events of 9/11.

“If workers are going to leave the people they care about, travel across bridges and through tunnels, and brave subways and airplanes, they want the work they do to make a difference,” Galinsky says in her article.

Safety of one’s self and one’s family is a great reason for working at home.

Here are some signs that it's time to update your resumé. All but the last could indicate your job is not secure, according to author William Morin:

  • Your work is constantly criticized.
  • You are constantly ignored—your input is not sought.
  • You don't like your job and usually hate going to work.
  • You haven't received a raise in the past two years, or you did get a bump, but it was less than the 3- to 5% national range.
  • You've been in the same job or at the same level for five years or longer.
  • You have a killer commute.

In Laura Boswell’s article, “Bad Corporate Culture,” Brian Lange of Perim Consulting is quoted as saying, “Life is too short, and work is too time-consuming to accept being anything less than satisfied with our work environments. We carry home too much baggage from unsatisfying work, and it is not fair to ourselves or our loved ones.”

Is there any wonder why people leave this kind of work environment at every opportunity?

Start working for yourself right now!


Boswell, Laura. “Bad Corporate Culture.” Website:

Galinsky, Ellen. "Tuning In To Next-Gen Employees." Optimize Magazine, February, 2002:

Hansen, Morten T. and Michael S. Deimler. “Cutting Costs While Improving Morale With B2E Management.” Website:, September 15, 2001.

Knight, Ray, and Rob Sanders. "Can't Buy You Love." Casino Executive, June, 1999:

Kraack, Thomas. “The Other 80 Percent: Increasing Workforce Productivity.” Website:, May 9, 2003.

Morin, William. Total Career Fitness: A Complete Checkup and Workout Guide, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2000.

© Yank Elliott. All rights reserved worldwide.

Article by Yank Elliott, a home-based entrepreneur and freelance business writer in Belhaven, North Carolina, USA. His Website is He is currently a staff writer for IAHBE. Contact Yank at


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