Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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A Battle for Power?

Power is an ever-present factor in relationships! And living creatures constantly battle for power.

Cubs spar at each other in the wild, and dogs bark as they pass each other on the street corner. Also, humans size each other up frequently… Whether in a restaurant, at the gym, or in the workplace. And we do so for a peculiar reason! – To assert our position on the totem pole and secure our position in the tribe.
And this unceasing attempt to position oneself for greatness is very present in organizations!

I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by the current job market and work environment! Perhaps you are too!
Just for kicks 😊 How would you describe the state of the work environment in the United States today?
I would say: It is a battle for power between employers and workers, manifested in an unending state of flux and distrust. – And the seed of the problem is an imbalance of power.

How did the seed germinate?

As we all experienced, in 2020, the Coronavirus cropped up and shut down the world!
In response, many states instituted shelter-in-place orders to mitigate the spread of the virus. Notably, shelter-in-place orders did not require everyone to be homebound. – Exemptions were made for essential services such as food, medicine, and healthcare.  
What does “shelter in place” mean? An expert explains – Vox

And to comply with the orders while maintaining business continuity, many organizations asked workers whose roles were not deemed essential by the state to work from home.

A box is open! – Pandora or Godiva?

And this single move cracked open a box! – A box of ills or a box of delights??

Overnight, it seemed many workers began to perceive the stringent requirements employers placed on where and how they worked as superfluous; i.e., Based on what the employer wanted rather than what the business required. As a result, workers felt emboldened to stand up for themselves and articulate what they wanted and needed. And by so doing, workers began to reclaim the power many employers had long held.

This resulted in many employees quitting their jobs, often without having another job lined up. – A move that many historically viewed as unwise or irresponsible! You might remember your parents or teachers sharing these words of counsel: Do not quit your job before you have another one lined up! Well, that advice seemed to go by the wayside! Employees quit, and employers scrambled as they searched for new hires and ways to retain those who stayed. – This included providing never-seen-before levels of flexibility!

The choices we make!

In some cases, employers turned a deaf ear when they heard workers had two jobs: the job at their company and a side gig. – A practice called moonlighting. Moonlighting | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu) Notably, in earlier times, many employers frowned upon or prohibited employees from moonlighting. – Specifically due to concerns with conflict of interests or poor performance… Not so much now!
It seemed dire times called for extreme flexibility!

In other cases, workers at all levels relocated to their desired cities to balance their personal goals and professional pursuits. And they did so without informing their employer! – Resulting in an unsettling months-long period where some employers perceived employees as lackadaisical!

Return to the office or else!

Suddenly, the tide turned! 

Stimulus checks from the government stopped rolling in, and unemployment checks required more effort to land. – This turn of events enabled many employers to regain their power and try to “return to normal.” And many became less willing to allow workers to work from home and insisted they return to the office.

But in many cases, workers resisted returning to the office and continued to work from home. – A move that seemed incredulous to employers, and some defaulted to using the old threat method: A persuasion tactic where one requires someone to satisfy a desire or suffer a dreadful consequence. – You may have heard or experienced this!

Experimenting with the Threat Method!

Notably, one of the many downsides of the threat method is: for a threat to be effective, one must follow through on the consequence when the demand is unmet. – In this case, that could be a demotion, firing, or revoking some employee privileges. However, because organizations rely on workers to deliver products and services, rampantly penalizing many workers could leave an organization without sufficient staff and unable to deliver. – A precarious position!
Remarkably, some organizations that used the threat method and watched as a stream of workers walked out the door are still in this unsettling position.

And now, a question one must contend with is: What can employers do to assuage their angst and get their workers back?
And we will explore this further and harvest a gem next time!

For you and to you,



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