Mayer’s Measures Vs. Moms, Millennials and Modern Views of Work

Seven months into her position as Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer has caused an uproar over her latest decision to ban the option to work from home. This means all Yahoo! employees will be required to come into the office every day and if they can’t or won’t by the required date (the start of June), then they might as well quit now.

The majority of Yahoo’s 14,500 employees already physically report to one of the company’s office locations. But Mayer maintains the stance that “speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home”. And in an internal letter to employees Yahoo’s Human Resources Chief wrote “we need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” While this move can’t guarantee that teams will work better together or produce higher levels of work or creativity, Mayer has been given the arduous task of reversing Yahoo’s downward spiral and is taking measures towards that, starting from the bottom up.

Needless to say, this has reignited the debate of whether quality work can get done from home. Does working from home really lead to shirking of responsibilities and lack of efficiency or does it lead workers to become more productive and satisfied with their jobs given the flexibility? A lot of backlash came from parents, who valued the flexibility in their work schedules to be on call for their families. Mayer recently paid for a nursery to be built right next to her office, which spoke volumes to the importance of being within reach.

Given ongoing turmoil, it would be no surprise if employee engagement levels at Yahoo! have decreased which can possibly help to explain the decrease in profits. ORC International’s Employee Research team conducted a survey in 2012, asking “Aside from pay, what’s most important to you in an employer?” Of the 1,523 respondents, “good work-life balance” and “flexible working” were notable mentions, particularly among Millennials (workers 18-30 years old), who have more unconventional views of what makes somewhere a great place to work.


Interestingly, ORC International’s Social Buzz analysis depicts sentiment surrounding Marissa Mayer has shifted more than ten percentage points towards negative since her appointment as CEO last summer.

Some might argue that her job isn’t to be popular but public support and commentary would certainly be useful in her turnaround efforts.

On the flip side of the argument, working from home is a privilege, not a right. But what about employee engagement levels? Is Yahoo’s problem really at the bottom of the employee food chain? Or is it at the top? For a company that has gone through five CEO’s in as many years, the spotlight has been on this company for a long time. The consistent re-organization of leadership has left Yahoo! lost. It needs to restore morale, confidence and profitability. It needs to re-engage its employees.

Only time will tell if this will occur more quickly with everyone in the office or by maintaining “perks” that have become synonymous with the tech industry. We explore some of the wider employee engagement issues in a series of posts on a sister blog:


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Categories: Employee Engagement, Social Listening, Technology

Author:Tameka Vasquez

Tameka is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at ORC International. ORC International is a leading global market research firm. We specialize in research related to Customer Equity, Employee Engagement, Business & Market Expansion and Product Development & Innovation. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!


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