As for swearing, I never really understood the PC approach in offices. English is my second language, so English swear words were used daily when I grew up. When I just started working in the US, I had to train myself to avoid uttering 'shit' when something hit the fan. But the I found out some people are offended by 'damn', and 'hell' (will never get that. Do they think they won't go there if they avoid saying it?).
So everyone has words that offend them - big whoop. I'm offended by words like 'synergy', 'disrupt' and 'scrum' but I never told people to avoid them near me.
However, in certain contexts, swear words can create a negative work environment. Uttering 'fuck' when something hits your foot is completely different than using it as a verb in a story, in front of other employees. As with alcohol - do use, but in moderation, and at the right time and place.
Behavioral economists have studied this type of change and it can seriously affect relationships (there was a famous study of an Israeli day care that started charging parents a fee if they picked up their child late, then tried to change back to the previous policy). Having a benefit then losing it makes people feel like something is being taken from them (even if Jet can still have off-campus happy hours).
That said, I don't know how much I care. WalMart has a reputation and if you are part of a company that chooses to be bough out by WalMart, you have to expect that some big things will change. Hopefully the Jet execs set expectations correctly.
I see that you too have read Dan Ariely's Predicably Irrational :)
Recommended reading for everyone else, by the way. It was an enlightening on the topic of socio-economics, or the application of psychology to economics.
Chances that an ex-employee (or a vendor, or a customer visiting the office) will sue a small startup for that are nearly nil - the litigation is too laborious and costly. Chances that a $230 billion corp will be taken to court are somewhat larger than nil.
Even if the plaintiff loses or settles the case, the media still has a field day with it.
Do shareholders of WMT want that liability?
In contrast, outside of English, swearing doesn't bother me much. No shock. No offense. Maybe that's your experience, as well.
Sometime the people you work with are your friends. And sometimes people like to go out with their friends.
Companies that disallow alcohol will have a hardier time attracting employees, as that kind of uptight company doesn't sound like it would be pleasant to work at.
Booze is awesome but there's a time and place for it. If someone gets loaded at work enough to impair their ability to drive, then gets into an accident and injures or kills someone, their employer (in the US at least) could be liable in part. It's one thing to go out with your coworkers after work, or maybe even have a beer over lunch before going back to work, and it's another to need booze on premises.
Having draconian alcohol policies is a negative, and it can be weighed against the pros and cons of working there.
Maybe the pros out weight the singular drawback of uptight HR representives. But maybe it doesn't, and that one negative among many negatives is enough to push someone over the edge of not working there.
Ex:if the pay is higher then maybe I'd still take the job.
I don't really care about employer liability. That is their problem, not mine.
We're all adults, use your best judgement. Companies and offices should be able to have mature conversations around this without it being dictated.
Not many people do coke and ecstacy. Whereas the vast majority of the population drink alcohol to some extend.
Maybe the employees didn't demonstrate the same level of judgement. Act like children, get treated like children.
Another possibility is they want people near clients and visitors to be more proper.
I don't know I hope it's more than just not trusting the employees.
I have a coworker who uses "fuck you" as a casual insult or joke. Can't get him to stop and no one will make him stop because "he doesn't mean any harm by it".
You don't need to drink and swear in the office to do what Jet does, but Jet was built with that as part of its culture, and changing it is going to impact its workforce. Don't acquire a startup for the value of the startup-y things that it's done unless you're in it for the whole package. Otherwise, license what Jet does or become its customer/client in some other way.
It's not that they're necessarily wrong- alcohol at the office has a lot of consequences, liability, etc, and discouraging swearing can foster a less aggressive environment. It's just that they should know who and what they were buying. Jet had a culture of its own, and that culture included alcohol and swearing. I read the other day that the founder owns a vineyard, and is a big wine lover, sharing his love with his company.
Culture is hard, and critical to any company. Coming in and saying "change your culture" is dangerous, especially with things as visible, noticeable and enjoyable as alcohol. It leaves the question of "what will they change next?".
I'm not super familiar with the details of the acquisition but I thought it was more landgrab to extend their online presence than acquihire.
If my employer tried to enforce a rule as puritanical as "no swearing" my response would be "fuck you."
Provided you have the FY money sitting in your bank account to be able to go that route, that is.
Who's ever completely honest about why they left a previous company anyway?
I left a previous position largely because my boss was a psychopath. But I certainly didn't mention that during interviews.
It's one thing to "simplify", and gloss over the details of what other people did.
It's quite another to invert the basic nature of something that you did.
The "company got acquired, added 'no swear' policies & removed perks' so I said fuck that and left", can be simplified to something vague like "the company got acquired and changed direction (you don't even need to mention culture, but you can), I'm looking for something more like what you're doing here at 'New Company' ... ".
Has the advantage of depersonalizing the issue and avoiding the (completely unnecessary) sexual/aggressive overtones -- while still sending an unequivocally clear message (that you also wouldn't necessarily mind being quoted for in the press or in a book, some day).
Cursing isn't bad, it's that cursing can be used to express sentiments and intentions that are bad. If you police words and then say 'ok, my job here is done', you have succeeded in removing a symptom and done nothing to address the cause. Moreover, this gives shitty people a policy wall to hide behind.
Young people especially are unlikely to judge their own propensity for alcoholism, so "encouraging a fun workplace culture" is not a good enough reason to use alcohol to attract a younger generation of workers.
Don't try and project your biases onto 320 Million Americans many of whom come from different cultures
It just seems like a foolish idea to put drinks in the hands of 20-somethings who just got out of college and are starting their first or second jobs. I remember investment banks recruiting my business school friends by promoting their heavy drinking culture.
I know I'm sounding like a nanny-stater here. But there is a dark underside to this relaxed attitude towards drinking that you ignore at your peril.
I went to Uni here in the UK with a lot of Americans. What always stood out was how stupidly drunk they got and how proud they were of it, as if they were 14/15. Most of them matured out of it after a year or two.
The reason for this as far as I can see is that the US doesn't have a culture of sociable drinking. Drinking is something you do to party or on a date. The concept of social drinking doesn't exist in the US like it does in the EU. No one goes to the pub (you don't even really have pubs or cafes - bars are not the same thing) for a drink or two with friends or colleagues. So young people have no examples of what moderate drinking looks like. People either don't drink or get proper wasted, thus re-enforcing the BS slippery slope argument, thus people drink moderately even less, and a vicious cycle continues.
>Most of them matured out of it after a year or two.
Some of them, however, probably became alcoholic. It's a terrible disease I wouldn't wish on anyone.
Alcoholism is a funny one. Our understanding of addiction is still developing and I'm not personally familiar with the issues around alcohol addiction specifically so I won't get deep into to debate, but there's strong evidence to suggest that addiction is a symptom of other issues as much as it is an issue in it's own right and there have been many many functioning societies that by modern US standards most people would have been alcoholics.
The younger people had more spare time to hang out later, so that probably affects things, too.
Edit: the concept of cross-departmental conversations that someone mentions later in this thread is completely gone now, too.
On the other hand, you're still in business - right?
As a student I worked for ASDA, a UK supermarket chain, while it was bought by Walmart.
Management decreed we had to do a team power huddle at the start of each shift, like we were American Football players or something instead of bored teenagers on minimum wage.
It was excruciating. Everyone hated it, from management down. I think the policy lasted a week before everyone gave up in sheer embarrassment.
Do you arbitrarily categorise words as "bad," then you ban such words in a lot of everyday circumstances, and therefore such words are made pointless.
Why even have swearing if it cannot be used? Elsewhere in the English speaking world, these are commonly used words with specific emotional attachments, in the US you "offend" people or get gasped at if you utter the forbidden phrases.
At least with certain racist phases I can understand the rational. Because you want to "discontinue" those words from existing. Not so with regular swearing.
A trickle of Separatists and Puritans settled New England from 1620 to 1630. Then from 1630 to 1650 many came over during a period called the Great Migration. Then the migration abruptly stopped (it stopped being uncomforatble to be a Puritan in England). So the culture stewed in its own very, very doctrinaire juices, and became homogeneous. Then it's ideas spread as the country expanded. Among those ideas is never using a word that is not written in the King James Bible, much less a swear word. Of course, there isn't a lot of logic to that choice of vocabular no matter how you analyze it, but there you are.
The Puritan church died out, but the no-drinking, no-dancing, no-card-playing version of the Congregational church survived quite nicely intact to my father's generation. (It is possible for it to wear off -- as my friends with whome I have played a game of Hearts over a few beers can attest. I'm a lousy dancer, though.)
I think the point of having words which are not supposed to be said is to create a sense of risk around using those words. Because swear words are mostly considered taboo there is a social risk to using those words (your listeners might be offended) that helps to emphasize the importance of the issue to the speaker (that they're willing to take on risk because it's important).
For example it would be acceptable in a meeting to say:
"That is a bad idea."
But if you want to add in some social risk to emphasize your point you could say:
"That is a really fucking bad idea."
The latter statement would be considered rude and unprofessional in most work settings and, depending on the social environment, could even be grounds for termination.
The other view is that without cultural pressure to restrict their use, swear words lose their gravity. Think about how many words we've gone though to express that something is very good -- we're currently on awesome.
"I legitimately don't understand the odd obsession outside the US with banning guns. Do you arbitrarily categorize certain tools as 'bad,' then you ban such tools in a lot of everyday circumstances, and therefore such tools are made pointless."
It's even funnier, because in most countries hate speech is a criminal offense. The US has the least censoring of speech of any country I know of.
Typically the standards are different from what seems to be called "hate speech" in the US. Though there are some odd laws around that should really just be removed.
I won't comment on the rest of the post, but come on.
What is the ugliness in, say, "shit", that is not present in "shot" or "sheet"?
Come to think of it, it's like an emotional mapping to auditory expression, similar to this concept I heard about many years ago https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect
I don't mean this to be insulting but rather to answer your question. I think the word "asshole" has relatively soft sounds.
i believe the common parlance is "alternative curse words"
It's largely classism. Some work environments shun people who swear to signal that they are part of a different social class that is more professional.
Imposing it from above might be an attempt to force/encourage middle or low/mid prole attitudes in one's workers in general, and to make people with such attitudes feel elevated by the notion that "we're so much more professional now!"
I haven't yet seen an analysis that points out that a lot of middle class disgust with Trump is an aversion to his lower class signals. The gold bedecked Oval Office nearly made me laugh out loud because I knew what the response would be. As Fussell would say: money is not class.
(All joking aside, perhaps trying to generalize 300+ million people is too coarse of an approach :)
For now, you can drink and swear in the office (I guess). But who knows what other weird changes are looming...
The difference is basically "at work (the place)" or "during work (the job)".
And so are Lawyers firms, accountants, and more or less every kind of work involving mostly typing, exception made for some start-ups, possibly limited to the US.
A glass of wine or beer at lunch may of course be OK, but surely not drinking in the office or happy hours.
As in, the places you drive up to deposit checks? I have friends who in finance (for banks) and there is a very strong drinking culture at work.
From a job performance perspective the happy hour seems better anyways.
Admittedly we go out for lunch more often as a team here than at my old job, and there's a conference/travel budget for everyone in the whole group (which we didn't have at all at my old job, unless you were in sales). And we have seasonal gatherings where alcohol is provided, and we are allowed to put drinks on our expense report when traveling for conferences, although usually in my limited experience here, nobody would dare order more than one drink per meal and try to expense it...
So not really the same thing at all. But yeah, I've never seen anyone order a beer at lunch since I came here, and it was a bit shocking coming from somewhere with no conference budget, where a beer at lunch whenever the boss is paying was one on a short list of perks we did have!
So who's right?
Like anything else: it's fine in moderation. Abuse is still abuse.
"The Elves Leave Middle-Earth - Sodas Are No Longer Free"
So, given that:
* Leaving is actually an accumulation of these items,
* Individuals will have their own distinct list of such items,
* Individuals will have differing tolerance levels for waking up...
Is there actually any actionable information here other than: "Don't make unpopular decisions?" I mean, sure, in hindsight, on this particular and possibly unusual scenario, a bunch of people woke up with a singular item which had minor impact to the bottom line. Easy to look back and say, "Maybe that was a silly decision."
But an employer will always have to make decisions, and some individual will probably find that decision distasteful and add it to their list, and maybe that's finally the item that wakes them up... At what point do you just factor that into cost of making decisions and move on?
Make sure you actually do a cost-benefit analysis, even if it's just quickly in your head. Decisions like this are the result of seeing a metric and thinking about optimizing just that one metric. It's not easy to sum up costs and benefits of connected policies. And it can be very hard to a priori determine what the costs and benefits are. But when people come to you and complain about a new policy you should probably listen.
If I have 1 soda per day, it's less than 1% of my salary, and I don't necessarily miss it for monetary reasons, but why would I see it as anything besides you slashing my salary/benefits package by a fraction of a percent? Any time your plan to save money is to slash my pay/benefits without warning or negotiation, it's a good sign that I should start looking for employment elsewhere.
It's also a fiscally poor choice: the time lost to me debating if I should have a soda (5min; since the choice is non-obvious now that it involves a trip) and going to purchase a drink during the work day (10-15min) costs more than just preemptively buying me a can of soda costs by an order of magnitude.
If half of the devs spend 5 minutes a day thinking about drinks now that they're not provided, at a 50 engineer company that's costing 2 hours of developer time a day. Developer time is between $40-100/hr, so you're talking about ~$100/day in lost work because you're not buying 25-50 sodas. Whatever you're saving in soda costs doesn't offset that. (And if they actually leave the office to go get a drink instead, you're tripling that cost.)
I just find it odd that they're so focused on what a benefit costs, they don't analyze what it's providing to the company in value (by, in this case, alleviating a related cost).
Sure did, except that people now had to go down the cafeteria, if it wasn't closed, or go to the local starbucks down the road (which quadrupled it's daily order volume almost overnight).
Going to Starbucks was a 20 minute walk, plus the 5 minutes standing in line... some of us started bringing insulated containers with coffee to work to save some money, but if the black liquid ran out and it was close to normal quitting time, we now went home instead of grabbing one more cup and finishing the problem we were working on.
Not sure which bean counter decided that was a good idea :P
I have a beer at my desk during lunch every now and then, especially if I am working through my lunch as I eat. And every now and then if I know I have to work late ill crack one at 5pm while I work.
The other company in my building also has frequent at-work happy hours (after office close at 5pm, sometimes at 4pm) and everyone seems to be responsible and have fun.
In the end I think its all about showing you can be an adult, and not holding up the intern for a keg stand or slamming tequila shots.
I also think that people were barely aware of the no-swearing rule...I didn't even know it existed until I read this article! Seriously, how is it even enforceable?
Edit: Last thing. Even if either of these things had been strictly enforced, it wouldn't have changed things much around here. We don't have a culture of heavy drinking/swearing. We DO have a culture of trusting people though, which is what bothered some employees.
Source: I am a Jet employee.
 There was an excellent scotch collection that had to go, and some Corona's that had been providing thermal mass in the drinks refrigerator for years.
I'm also super-supportive of a harassment policy that prohibits language that is used to harass, be it "profanity" or not. (case in point, many people don't consider the R word to be an official profanity, but I will object to its casual use every time, as it is pretty terrible).
All that said, I swear in general, because profanity is really interesting. I moderate my language around people who object to it, sure. But I also do things like use words that sound "dirty" but are not in fact official profanities, or perhaps are marginal. Referring to someone as a "turd hurler", for example, skirts the line. I find it an interesting challenge to develop insults that can be applied to a specific person without pulling in old racist / imperialistic / patriarchal (&c.) tropes.
Further, actual semiotic disruption is also fun. I've trained myself that the phrase "man cave", for example, is a profane reference to a portion of a gentleman's anatomy. "Let me show you my man cave" is a much more hilarious and interesting phrase these days. The creation and evolution of profanity as a socially-negotiated construct (especially those profane words that are titillatingly transgressive but not so inherently evil that they mark one for immediate ostracizing) is pretty amazing.
This is kind of related to my own walmart experience. As a teenager, I worked for a warehouse club (pace) which was bought out by sam's, the walmart of warehouse clubs. Suddenly I had to cover my earrings with a bandaid (as I was male with earrings, and such couldn't display such a terrible thing to the clients). I quit instead, but spent a lot of time thinking about dress codes since - they (and fashion in general) are another fascinating (and frankly under-appreciated by the tech crowd) channel by which meaning is negotiated. I may think a dress code is stupid, but the person who puts stock in it is instead thinking I think that person is stupid. Which isn't my intended meaning, but communication is a two-way street and only possible when both sides understand the shared context.
Anyway. It's possible to ban a list of words, but it is not feasible to ban profanity as such. It is a far better strategy to build a code of conduct that is predicated on respect and mutual support. Ban harassing and insulting behaviors, rather than certain words, and you'll show that you care about the central concept rather than the surface features.
I don't necessarily agree with the decision one way or the other, but this article seems like its pushing a narrative with very little evidence to support it either way.