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The unlimited vacation policy story Netfix gives may be have as much relationship to the truth as the pez story does to the founding of eBay. Much more likely is Hastings found a way to reduce his payroll costs up to 5%, no small chunk of change! You may not be aware that in CA vacation is by law is an accrued benefit. The law doesn't say how much you must get, but it says that once earned you are entitled to be paid for it if you ever leave the company. So CA companies put a charge on the books for vacation as it is earned. If they give 3 weeks a year, not an uncommon amount, that's 5-6% of salary. Now take a company like Netflix. People are fired all the time, and those keeping their jobs may never take even 3 weeks a year. The day they walk out the door Netflix owes them nothing for the vacation they never took, nor did it have a charge against earnings while they were employed. So perhaps Netflix was motivated by trust in employees and an enlightened attitude when they devised their policy. Or maybe they just found a clever way to sidestep CA law and cut costs.
It has been like this for decades. I remember puzzling over this while working a part-time job in a department store in college many years back. It was a great job to have for a student due to the flexible hours. But there were full-time adults (people over 22 were adults to me back then) who had worked there for years. And the way scheduling worked, your manager gave you your schedule for the following week on Wednesday or so. If you wanted time off you could request it in advance, but otherwise your following week was a mystery until you got the schedule. I kept wondering why they couldn't give the regular employees stable hours. Sure, they sometimes would want to shift their hours for a sale, but they knew when the sales were months ahead so they could have accommodated that even with more-or-less steady schedules. The explanation I came up with is it was a way of infantilizing the staff. By preventing any long-term planning it kept the worker bees living pretty much in the present. This may be a laudable goal for meditators, but the results I saw were that it prevented the staff from making any plans for their life. They didn't take classes for advancement or enjoyment, plan weekday outings with friends, etc. Their life unfolded a week at a time, and some had been doing this for 2 or 3 decades. The difference between knowing you had every Wednesday off and having this Wednesday off, maybe the next one too, but then it might be a Friday or a Monday, kept the old-timers from doing much of anything with their free time.
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B&N sounds like another company run by those "smart" MBAs on its way to oblivion. Tech already saw this movie play out on the big screen. It was called "lock-in".Remember SGI? Sun? Apollo? MIPS? These companies made minicomputers and each had marketers who patted themselves on the back and thought they were geniuses. Their secret was to sell slightly incompatible versions of Unix so that the software a company bought could only run on their particular box. If you had a room of Sun gear then the SGI salesperson was wasting time since nothing you owned would work on it. While not the only reason why these companies are gone, customers chafed at this heavy-handedness and as soon as Intel-based boxes were powerful enough to run their software they left in droves. The B&N marketers must have learned of lock-in somewhere in MBA school and think its just a grand idea to strong-arm as many customers as possible into this. And if you *do* have the membership then every time you buy a book you're enticed to do it at B&N so that you get more value out of your "membership". What the geniuses at B&N don't realize is that customers are not dumb; they understand the implications of being harassed into signing up. But while they can easily track the number of monthly signups and the attrition rate, they don't have a chart showing how many customers have decided never to shop their again. Apparently things you can't easily measure don't matter, or so they'll think all the way to bankruptcy.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2016 on What Barnes & Noble is doing wrong at Engineered
Meltzer is an old fool, but Meltzer and his ilk are exactly the reason Economics is not a science any more than English Literature. The hallmark of a science is the ability to self-correct. After the Michelson–Morley experiment physics journals stopped publishing papers dependent on an ether for electromagnetic waves to propogate, to give just one example. Will this happen with Meltzer and his ideas? Not a chance! There is an entire self-sustaining school of freshwater economics with journals to publish their papers, grad students trained, and then faculty hired. 30 years from now they'll still be publishing paper after paper, the present circumstances mattering not a whit. Indeed, some Economics PhD's try to follow the ideals of a science. But overall, sad to say, the Economic profession is more akin to astrology than astronomy.
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Feb 26, 2015