3 unique management practices: A new take on firing, salary negotiation and employee benefits


Bosses can usually turn to a general management playbook to set basic rules and expectations for employees, but some leaders push the envelope with their experimental management practices.

As corporate culture becomes an increasingly important consideration for job seekers and a factor of employee retention, many leaders have begun implementing out-of-the box practices to at once improve employee engagement and performance, and make work a great place to be.

The following three examples from real companies demonstrate unique management practices.

1. The company with a "no firing" philosophy. Peter Platzer, CEO of the San Francisco-based nanosatellite and data startup Spire, likens his management philosophy to the U.S. Army rule, "no man left behind."

"We as a company will never give up on you," Mr. Platzer told The Guardian.

Mr. Platzer has not terminated a single employee in the three years since Spire was founded. While he would not go as far to say he would never fire an employee under any circumstances, his general approach to termination is not to do it.

Mr. Platzer's aim is to attract the scientific talent his company needs from what he perceives as a shrinking talent pool. Finding qualified candidates and retaining them is one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry — even Google, which is named by Fortune as one of the best places to work, struggles with a median tenure rate of just over a year, according to PayScale.

"We are a data analysis company, and that means that my single most scarce resource [is] people that can do something useful with data," he told The Guardian.

The "no firing" philosophy Mr. Platzer has employed at Spire functions on a deeper level than recruitment, too. It taps into employees' personal sense of purpose or intrinsic motivation. Mr. Platzer hopes employees, with the understanding the company has fully committed to them, will adopt a "lasting inspiration and drive that [creates] a positive sense of wellbeing and natural engagement," according to the report.

At the same time, landing a job at Spire is no easy feat. Mr. Platzer says it easier to get accepted to Harvard than to receive a job offer at his company. Over a two-and-a-half month period, Spire hired 10 out of 1,323 applicants, coming out to a less than 1 percent chance of being hired. Candidates are evaluated on how they would fit into Spire's culture — which revolves around relentless growth and career development — in addition to functional qualifications.

2. The company that protects gender equality by prohibiting employees from negotiating their salaries. Ellen Pao, JD, interim CEO of the San Francisco-based entertainment, social networking and news website Reddit, has emerged as a leading feminist-activist since her lost legal battle in one of the highest-profile gender discrimination cases in Silicon Valley against venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Today, her policy at Reddit banning employees from negotiating their salaries aims to ensure gender equality among men and women.

Ms. Pao sued Kleiner Perkins in 2012 for gender discrimination and retaliation after what she alleges was years of harassment and being passed over for raises and promotions. She also alleges a former Kleiner colleague, Ajit Nazre, pressured her into having an affair in 2006 and continued to sexually harass her. After reporting him to management, Ms. Pao said the company did nothing to protect her, and even perpetuated gender discrimination in the firm by paying her and its other female employees less than men and excluding them from partner events, according to her lawsuit. Kleiner denied all of her allegations and won the case, which went to trial in mid-February.

While Ms. Pao lost in court, she told the Wall Street Journal that having her personal and work life scrutinized — even embarrassing personal details — was worth it because her case has started a conversation about gender bias in the technology industry, as well as in business in general.

As Reddit grows, Ms. Pao says one of her priorities is ensuring its work environment is one of equal opportunity for men and women. She recruited Freada Kapor Klein, PhD, co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, as a consultant, and changed the recruitment policy to ban salary negotiations among job candidates. Ms. Pao defended her policy by saying men negotiate harder than women do, and at the same time women are often penalized when they do negotiate, according to the Wall Street Journal. If employees want more equity, they can trade some of their cash salary, but the company will not reward people who are better negotiators, she told the Journal.

3. The company that pays their employees' college tuition. On April 6, the Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks announced it would cover a full four years of college tuition for employees instead of two, as its free college tuition plan previously stipulated, according to USA Today. Starbucks will also offer employees tuition reimbursement after every semester instead of after completing 21 class credits to speed up the process.

The program is a partnership with Arizona State University, and offers all eligible full-time and part-time employees full tuition coverage for a four-year bachelor's degree through ASU's online degree program, according to the report. ASU Online offers 49 undergraduate degree programs, and the average tuition cost for four years is $60,000. Starbucks plans to invest up to $250 million or more for at least 25,000 employees to obtain a college degree by 2025.

Employees do not have to commit to remain with the company after graduation, according to the report.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz's implementation of this program demonstrates his commitment to the well-being and development of his employees.

"By giving our partners access to four years of full tuition coverage, we provide them with a critical tool for a lifelong opportunity," Mr. Schultz said in a statement. "We're stronger as a nation when everyone is afforded a pathway to success."

Nearly 2,000 Starbucks employees have already enrolled in the program, according to the report.

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