Remember the People

The Constitution as a Model for a Healthy Workplace Culture
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Before he became the fourth president, James Madison had already shaped the foundation of the United States government and citizen culture. He, along with Alexander Hamilton, led the Federalist faction during the Constitutional Convention. They joined John Jay in penning The Federalist Papers in defense of the new Constitution as a necessary governing document as opposed to the Articles of Confederation which had governed the states since they declared their independence in 1776.


Most of the Anti-Federalist faction’s concerns centered around the stronger central government of the Constitution. Many believed, as Madison did, that the Articles of Confederation provided too weak of a government to actually function, but worried that an enlarged central government would infringe on the rights of the individual states and their citizens.

The two sides came together when Madison proposed a series of amendments that would protect against the Anti-Federalists’ worst fears. These ten amendments formed the Bill of Rights.

Every student of history understands the Constitution’s superiority over the Articles of Confederation. Case in point, the Articles only lasted about eight years, and the Constitution has been going strong for a little over two hundred thirty.

It was the Bill of Rights that secured the new governing document. And much like that, there would be no Constitution without those first ten amendments, there would be no government without the states nor its people.

Likewise, there would be no company without its employees.

Invest in the People

There are many companies that talk a big game when it comes to putting their employees first; but more often than not, it truly only talks. Luckily, there are a number of companies that truly do invest their time and treasure in their people and organizational health.

Hyatt Hotels features an environment where they promote internal candidates 47% of the time. Additionally, everyone from the CEO down to the wage workers is on a first-name basis. The chain’s hotels also regularly host “Night Owl Breakfasts,” which give managers the opportunity to serve meals to their night-shift employees and gives them the opportunity for face time with their staff.

KPMG, one of the big four accounting firms, launched a “10,000 Stories Challenge,” that allowed its employees to highlight the positive impact of their work at the company. On their website, KPMG explains the purpose behind this initiative, and how it connects with the work they provide for their clients.

Deloitte, another of the big four accounting firms, delivers a lot of learning hours to its employees. Additionally, all employees are given ten thousand dollars in tuition reimbursement and $25,000 to help doctoral candidates cover expenses while they complete their dissertations. This company is not afraid to invest in its employees, especially their female and minority staff who represent nearly half of management.

Google often ranks as one of the top companies to work for. High compensation and a company culture where everyone’s input seems to be valued contributors to that reputation. In a time where major tech companies have been under increased scrutiny (think Amazon, Uber, and Facebook), Google has successfully flown under the radar of that scrutiny; it has not really been as much a target of politicians and negative media coverage as its other major tech counterparts. Happy employees have very little to gripe about.

Amy Elisa Jackson of Glassdoor posted an article that is worth a read — “7 Types of Companies You Should Never Work For.” In it, she briefly describes toxic environments that do not put their employees first. In summary, these are the signs:

  • High Turnover
  • Culture Clashes
  • Disparate Experiences
  • “Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians”
  • Perpetual Promising
  • Stagnation
  • Directionless-ness

The addition of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution makes one thing clear — without securing the rights of its people, there is no government. A similar truth lies in the way we manage our organizations. Without securing the rights of its employees, a business cannot achieve long term success. It may not be true of all companies; some companies can thrive without putting their employees first. In order to attract and retain the best employees, though, it makes it a lot easier if the culture is employee-centric.

James Madison and the other framers knew about the importance of this balance.

The leadership in your organization should, too.

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