As we prepare to say goodbye to Mad Men, which is in its final season, I couldn't help but reflect on some of the show's moments that stood out most for me.
From the outlandish John Deere lawn mower scene, to the knock- down drag-out fight between Lane and Peter, the show definitely did not disappoint when it came to entertainment. But throughout the madness one thing continued to stand out--Sterling Cooper & Partners doesn't treat their employees very well. In today's business world, that behavior would be the kiss of death (and not just for legal reasons!).
In the episode, "The Suitcase," Peggy Olson and Don Draper get into a heated argument over Peggy's contribution to an award-winning campaign, and lack of appreciation for her work. The dialogue went something like this:
Don: It's your job. I give you money, you give me ideas.
Peggy: And you never say thank you.
Don: That's what the money is for!
Don goes on to say, "You should be thanking me, along with Jesus, for giving you another day." Really? For the past six seasons Don has berated his supporting staff. Yet, for the most part, they stayed. Back then, that's simply what people did. And recently, we went through a similar phenomenon. For years, thanks to a weak economy and high unemployment, employees stayed put in their jobs--whether the working conditions were ideal or not. But that is all about to change.
The latest report on the state of the U.S. job market continues to show a healthy job landscape for employees. What does that mean? Employees will have the upper hand and plenty of room for job mobility. In fact, a recent survey showed that nearly 50% of millennials plan to actively look for a new job in 2015. So, to all those companies operating in a 1960s mindset--good luck.
The war you will be losing won't be about products or services, it will be a lack of great talent to help build, sell, service, and evangelize your solutions and business. Employees today want to work in an environment where their contributions are recognized and rewarded, beyond just the paycheck.
The successful workplace of the future won't be Sterling Cooper & Partners, but one that invests in understanding what makes their employees tick and uses compensation--financially or otherwise--to inspire a more collaborative, engaged, and productive workplace. And in that workplace, a good old-fashioned "thank you" will never go out of style.
The organizations that can't figure that out will be saying goodbye to their employees as quickly as we'll be saying goodbye to seven great seasons of Mad Men.