Written by Twumasi Duah-Mensah
Once upon a time, piles of eager job applicants’ résumés spilled over into the next room. Applicant interviews occupied almost all of the human resource department’s day. If the day wasn’t stuffed with interviews, it was overflowing with discussions about who to hire. It was a headache for HR, but it was a better headache than what they face now.
Today, when tech startup Gardner-Lowe Technology’s HR department looks in its inbox, they’re oftentimes finding more letters of resignation than job applications. The company is losing workers without enough qualified candidates for replacement, and its management is scrambling to find out why.
It’s odd for a startup making such an ostensibly meteoric rise to not have its front lobby flooding with candidates hungry for the jobs they offer. For GLT, however, something’s going wrong, but strangely, they’re not looking to their current workers for answers.
“It’d be useless to ask [the workers],” GLT Vice President David Higginbottom rebuked. “If we ask them, they’ll just say ‘increase our pay.’ We can’t blame them, but we’d prefer to do things in the organization’s best interest.” Higginbottom established that GLT would only consider increasing salaries if the situation got drastic, for the company is losing so much money that it worries it’ll lose its Fortune 500 company status.
Instead, GLT is exploring a solution Higginbottom claims will “revolutionize” efficiency: changing the layout of employees’ computer keyboards.
“Employees can bid adieu to the random, ergonomically reprehensible QWERTY layout,” Higginbottom declared. “Switching to a better layout will allow employees to get their work done expediently, making us more effective as an organization.”
The biggest and most obvious problem with the switch is that employees will have to turn away from a keyboard layout they’ve known all their lives to a completely new one. Higginbottom, though, appeared aghast at the idea that the workers wouldn’t love it. “Everyone would love to work for an organization that’s always looking to become more efficient,” he exclaimed. “As VP of the company, I know I would.”
To a GLT employee who wished to stay anonymous, however, something doesn’t look right. Through all of GLT’s struggles, efficiency hasn’t been one of them, as their 2019 A.C. Lewis Business Efficiency award—their third straight—shows. Companies always want to stay ahead of the curve, they agree, but if GLT isn’t attracting new workers, is efficiency really the place to start?
“Ask anyone here,” the employee challenges, “and I can guarantee that, unless they’re mocking what has been said, they’re not gonna tell you the number one reason they’re dissatisfied is that their typing isn’t fast enough.”
It wouldn’t be the first time GLT’s authority has been undermined by whistleblowers, as an earlier report in CBS News featured two anonymous employees who were also unhappy with the company’s unwillingness to ask them for their perspective on the issue. In the report, the workers cited senior management’s lack of appreciation for making achievements like the three consecutive efficiency awards happen in the first place.
Challenged about these accusations, VP Higginbottom doubled down on his earlier analysis of employees’ perspectives. “We’ll ask them, and they’ll just say ‘increase our salary, and you’ll attract more workers.’ I love their hustle—that’s what makes our workplace culture one of the best in the nation and makes every one of our employees love working here —but we have to do what’s in the best interest of the organization.”