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Thursday, 15 December 2011

I’m Sorry; But I’m Too Rich to Come into Work Today.

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Česky: Logo Facebooku English: Facebook logo E...
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Success produces some unusual problems for a business. I was reminded of such when I read recent article in Business Insider that the proposed Facebook IPO will create over 1000 millionaires. This article goes on to give examples of some of the more exc
essive plans of these potential millionaires. The big question for Facebook, is how many of them will want to go back to their mundane jobs with such a big bank account balance.

There is no doubt that a fair percentage of them will at least for the short term continue with their day jobs, but as the realisation about what their wealth can do for them you can expect to see an increasing number having days off because they are just too rich. 

 The immediate problem for Facebook is that there are just so many of them. Can you imagine the problem facing Facebook if they all left at once, the loss of intellectual as well as cultural capital would be enormous. The difficulty for Facebook is that the normal rules of engagement don’t apply. Withholding pay, gets the so what response, as does any disciplinary procedure even being sacked would hold little fear. In a curious way Facebook are in a similar position to the banks and loan defaults; that is there comes a point when the large numbers of potential leavers (defaulters) becomes more of a problem in itself than putting sanctions against individuals. 

This by no means a unique problem although it is rare, Microsoft faced a similar situation when they went public for the first time in 1986. There were faced with a large number of employees becoming millionaires and recognised the risks to the organisation. There is no silver bullet solution for this type of scenario as it is rarely faced by any business. From the scraps of information I have been able to assemble it seems that Microsoft tried to focus on staff attitudes and attempts to promote the non financial reasons why people go to work as a way of minimising the potential impact of such significant staff attrition. 

They sought to identify reasons why very wealthy people would continue to come into work particularly if their jobs were relative low level. Senior Managers tend to be very driven and are often financially secure to a windfall would make a difference but not a significant one, for the most part. 

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase
Technical staff were a different problem in that typically they are not motivated by money but the size of the windfall may disprove those assumptions. It seems that by offering ore technically challenging roles would go some way towards addressing the issue for this type of individual although equally you ant give them all more technically challenging rolls. 

The biggest batch of potential leavers is this in administrative jobs where a million dollars is a mind boggling sum of money. This group is the most difficult to deal with, so spending some 
time helping staff to prepare for the impending event will go some way towards exorcising the euphoria before the event. 

Microsoft managed reasonably well in coping with this problem but things have changed a little since the 1980’s and we are a much more materialistic in our outlook so the problem could be much worse for Mark Zuckerberg and friends.
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Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for High Growth Business Business Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business. 

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