Monster founder tells employers to value workers
Jeff Taylor warns of looming ‘human capital shortage’ as boomers die off.
By Cheryl Hall
The Dallas Morning News
November 13, 2002
Jeff Taylor sounds like a nut case when he talks about a critical shortage of workers at a time when layoffs and unemployed masses abound.
You’re the crazy one, the 42-year-old Monster chairman believes, if you ignore him. The “human capital shortage,” as Taylor calls it, is just around the corner. When it strikes, he says, it will eclipse the late 1990s, when employers were held hostage by key workers and often settled for any warm body in a pinch.
He laughs about an intern who demanded $ 90,000 and 5 percent of Monster to come on board full time as a programmer. Parent company TMP Worldwide “had a market capitalization of something like $ 2 billion at that moment,” says Taylor, who makes about $ 500,000 a year. “So I think you can see the absurdity of what he was asking for.”
If you doubt such lunacy will return, he urges you to look at the numbers. About 70 million baby boomers will exit stage left over the next 15 years with only 40 million workers entering stage right.
Even with tech advancements, productivity gains and job migration to cheaper shores, he says, there will be a smart-people gap as wide as the Mississippi. “The knowledge worker is going to be at the center of company desperation.” He means employees who can think on their feet, work with customers, expand businesses.
Taylor is both innovator and survivor, having incorporated Monster in 1994 as one of the world’s first dot-coms — No. 454, to be exact. He sold it to TMP, a global recruitment firm, in 1995 for just under $ 1 million.
Now he sits atop the world’s largest Web-based career database. He removed “.com” from the moniker earlier this year to distance Monster from companies in a “dot-coma,” he says. Monster has been profitable for five years.
Fail to nurture employees in these down times, Taylor warns, and watch them walk as soon as business bustles again. What do employees say about your company at parties, Taylor asks. This off-hours buzz can make or break your efforts to hire the most qualified talent.
“You’ve got to recognize that having employees is a privilege, not a right,” he says.
An employer’s first responsibility to employees is to stay in business, so perks can’t be stupid, he says. Nor must they cost much.
At Monster headquarters in Maynard, Mass., employees drop off dry cleaning in “The Magic Closet.” Sporadically, Taylor slips in and pays the tab for everything in the closet — a dry-cleaning lotto that costs him no more than $ 150 a month. Hours are completely flexible as long he gets 40 each week. He coaches managers not to look at their watches when folks show up at 1:30 in the afternoon.
Employees can occasionally declare themselves vegetables for a day.
“I tell my employees, ‘Just tell your boss you’re having a go-to-the-mall moment and leave,’ ” he says, then adds, “Within reason.”
He implemented a $ 5,000 tuition reimbursement and used it to get his Executive MBA at Harvard University and then to finish his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in May 2001.
Being an employer of choice also means evolving so that employees feel the company has a future, he says.