Thursday, November 5, 2015

Glassdoor review of the week: Cambridge Major Labs, Germantown, WI

A recent Glassdoor review* of Cambridge Major Laboratories in Germantown, Wisconsin has this funny little comment: 
The opportunities for growth and development are very good, the people who work there are friendly and amazingly helpful. 
Work-life balance needs to be better. People get frustrated when there is no balance. 
Advice to Management 
Slow down - the company is growing and doing well. Focus on giving your employees a work-life balance. Show some appreciation other than pizza or ice cream and people will be more willing to stay.
I have this theory that there are two kinds of gifting languages in the United States.

There's the giving of food, which is typically the gifting language amongst friends and peers (you bring your coworkers a plate of cookies, you buy a friend their favorite distilled spirit, etc., etc.)

There's also the giving of money, which is quite often the language of appreciation between employer and employee. An employee will receive a check for a small sum along with their Lucite plaque or whatever. While most of the time, the appreciation matters more than the check, I think people would react differently if the small sum was delivered in, say, fresh-baked cookies.

I don't want to sound entitled or unappreciative, but I have noted that employees tend to react poorly when employers co-opt the gifting language of friends (i.e. "let's have a pizza party!") in place of money.

Readers, I'm sure I'm wrong here. Your thoughts? 


  1. I used to work for a small drug company (back in the golden '90s) that gave us lots of parties, Friday happy hours, logo swag, etc. Got taken over by a big Pharma, which stopped all that, but raised our salaries considerably. Money is better than cookies. I can buy my own darn cookies now.

  2. The cost of a slice of pizza is $2-3, right? Doesn't sound like much of a reward/bonus to me.

    Also, I've been eating free pizza and cookies for the entirety of my grad school career. I'm sick of the stuff.

  3. Auntie MarkovnikovNovember 5, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    Eerily weird - Just today I received an in-house email invitation to a first time ever pizza and ice cream party for my division.

  4. Nope, you're right on this. I'm sure this whole nonsense started with some BS seminar given to HR drones. It can be a good way to built esprit de corps, but not a substitute for a better salary.

  5. The difference could be in the $$ value, or it could be in the intention of the gift. Giving a salary raise is intensely personal - performance review, negotiations, hope, all make receiving a raise a very personal and anticipated experience. The corporation is the giver, but the relationship with the decision makers is very personal, too.

    Getting corporate food is different. When I visit my friends and they put food on the table I have a good time with my friends and (hopefully) so do they. People make this effort to share good time with me. Company giving food is different. The decision to buy food is made by people who often don't attend the event or to attend the event as part of the job. The entity that does the giving (a corporation) is not a person, so it is hard to work out the personal relationship with the host. Also, the consumers of the food have not left the job - a company happy hour or party is very much part of job performance.

    In between food and salary raise is an unexpected award. It is nice to get (usually some $$) and somewhat personal (boss had to nominate), but not anticipated enough to build solid appreciation.

    The last piece is about balance. We are taught to give and give charitably. We are seldom taught to receive. The successful act of giving needs both the giver and the recipient working together at the same level. This is hard for most of us.

    1. "We are seldom taught to receive. The successful act of giving needs both the giver and the recipient working together at the same level. This is hard for most of us."

      This is the truest thing said on the blog this week. Thank you.

  6. I've been to company-sponsored BBQs that were amazing.

    Pizza and ice cream are what you feed to people whom you don't really care about.

  7. When it's unexpected (when there's not an implied quid pro quo - you work longer hours and I'll give you food), I think people are happy with appreciation via food or small gifts. With smaller companies, though, I suspect it's a way of rewarding people in a cheaper way than paying them more or hiring more people so they don't have to work as much, which doesn't really help - 1) you don't really have the choice to accept, because you have to give your added work and time whether you want to or not or 2) it's expected, which means people factor it in as pay for the longer hours (than the pay presumably merits).

    Money isn't always a good way to recognize people, but in the long term it's probably the only one that matters. People want to be able to make their own choices of where to spend their time and attention, rather than having that choice made for them. Money allows people to do what they choose, and if you don't have either the money to do stuff or the time to choose to do stuff, you're probably going to be unhappy. Food will keep people who don't have other choices happy, but you want people smart enough to choose their own paths and to not burn themselves out, and that's not going to sustain those people for long.

    1. and my captcha was "Select the pictures with pizza in them".