This Week in Culture

When Rewarding Your Employees Backfires

Welcome to the corporate twilight zone, where hitting $10 billion in sales is celebrated with… stale cookies. Yes, you read that right. Sephora, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the best way to commemorate an epic sales milestone was by dispatching cookies to its workforce. This move wasn’t just tone-deaf; it was a slap in the face, served stale. 

Sephora Made 10 Million in Revenue and Rewards Staff With Cookies

This isn’t merely about the disappointment of expecting a bonus and receiving a cookie instead; it’s a glaring neon sign pointing to the colossal disconnect between corporate execs and the real MVPs on the ground floor. It’s as if someone said, “Hey, let’s give them cookies, but make it a metaphor for how little we value them.” 

The irony is almost poetic. A beauty giant that thrives on the notion of external perfection fails spectacularly to recognize the internal beauty of appreciating its own people. The confidential tag attached to the cookies is the cherry on top of this farcical sundae, whispering, “Please don’t tell anyone we’re this clueless.” 

Let’s cut through the corporate jargon and call it what it is: a masterclass in how not to reward your employees. This isn’t about the cookies (stale or not); it’s about the message it sends. “Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears; here’s a snack.” It’s a testament to a broader corporate culture problem where the balance sheet is king. And for your efforts we reward you with 500 dollars (I’m sorry not dollars, calories). 

The uproar from Sephora’s ranks, including whispers of unionization, isn’t just workplace drama; it’s a clarion call for a reality check. It’s about employees demanding a seat at the table, or at the very least, a reward that doesn’t literally crumble in their hands. 

What we’re witnessing is not a failure to communicate but a failure to respect. In the grand scheme of things, a cookie can be a delightful treat. But when it stands as a symbol of your worth to a company that just raked in billions, it’s not just stale; it’s insulting. 

So, what’s the lesson here for the corporate leaders? It’s simple: start treating your employees like the cornerstone of your success that they are. Stop with the gimmicks. Ditch the stale cookies. The irony here is that if Sephora had simply ignored the $10B milestone, most of their frontline workers wouldn’t have even known there was something to celebrate.  

In closing, if your idea of a reward is something that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Or better yet, actually listen to your employees. They might just have some insights that are fresher than the cookies.  

Elsewhere In Culture 

Uber, Lyft drivers are striking at 10 US airports on Valentine’s Day. Here’s why.

The Valentine’s Day strike by Uber and Lyft drivers is more than a simple labor dispute. It’s a significant moment that highlights the tension between gig economy workers and the platforms that depend on them. These drivers are standing up, demanding better pay and more respect in a system that often sees them as expendable. This isn’t just about wages; it’s about dignity, recognition, and the right to fair treatment in a rapidly evolving digital marketplace. 

This situation sheds light on a critical flaw in the gig economy: the promise of flexibility often masks the reality of instability and inadequate worker protections. It’s a wakeup call that innovation shouldn’t come at the expense of those who power it. The strike, especially on a day when their services are in high demand, is a bold statement from the drivers. They are not mere cogs in a machine but essential contributors who are demanding a shift towards a more sustainable and just business model. This could mark a turning point, urging gig economy giants to rethink how they engage with and value their workforce. 

He was a hero on Alaska Air 1282. Now he’s picketing for ‘livable’ wage

Steve Maller was one of the brave flight attendants who played a crucial role when a door plug blew out on Alaska Airlines flight 1282, hurtling him into a high-stakes emergency at 16,000 feet. Now, he’s on the streets, picket sign in hand, demanding a living wage. The stark shift from being applauded by airline executives for his heroism to fighting for fair pay on the picket lines lays bare a glaring hypocrisy in the airline industry. Maller, once a savior in the skies ensuring passenger safety amid a cabin pressure plummet, is now embroiled in a struggle for the recognition and compensation that his vital role deserves. This fight transcends mere salary disputes; it’s a stand for dignity, respect, and the acknowledgment of flight attendants as the linchpin of the aviation experience. 

The nationwide picketing by flight attendants from several major airlines is a clear call for improved compensation. These essential workers, despite their importance to the smooth operation and safety of air travel, are often undervalued in terms of their pay and working conditions. The protests, while constrained by the specifics of the Railway Labor Act, represent a significant moment of unity among flight attendants. They are not merely seeking higher wages; they are demanding a reevaluation of their worth to the industry, insisting that their contributions be recognized and adequately compensated. 

This teacher made education go viral. 
In one of the most eye-opening chats on the Culture Leaders podcast, I caught up with Logan Smalley of TED-Ed, and honestly, it was mind-blowing. He shared the idea that curiosity is a muscle we can all flex and develop, not just a trait you’re lucky to be born with. 
Logan’s got this amazing way of looking at things. He says it’s not enough to have a goal. You’ve got to have a plan and a vibe that keeps things moving.  
Want to hear how Logan’s making learning go viral – and more importantly, more memorable? Check out our latest episode and get ready to see education in a whole new light: 

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