How Workday made its employees its top priority in the pandemic

August 4, 2020, 10:39 AM UTC

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Good morning.

If you want to judge the true tenor of a company, survey its employees. Do that at Workday, and you’ll find a truly exceptional organization. Year after year, the enthusiasm of employees at the cloud-based software company earn it a spot near the top of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Credit goes to CEO and co-founder Aneel Bhusri, who is this week’s guest on our podcast, Leadership Next (Apple/Spotify). A sign of his approach to business came shortly after the coronavirus hit. Workday was one of the first to send workers home, but it also gave them each a bonus equal to two weeks’ pay, to help deal with extraordinary expenses. “In a crisis, the first thing you do is fall back on core values,” Bhusri says. “And we’ve always had employees as number one.”

Bhusri is a strong advocate of the stakeholder approach to business. “Companies should have a soul,” he says. “I believe in this environment, companies are stepping up to do the right thing”–for employees, for shareholders, for customers, and for their communities. “Companies should have a soul and need to step up in tough times…You see business leaders taking on things that historically governments took on, and they are being quite effective.”

Separately, I’ve written before that one of the heroes of the pandemic is a man who habitually avoids claiming credit–Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. A Wall Street Journal story published yesterday shows his efforts have not only supported the U.S. economy, but the global economy as well. “During two critical mid-March weeks, [the Fed] bought a record $450 billion in Treasuries from investors desperate to raise dollars,” the Journal reported. “By April, the Fed had lent another nearly half a trillion dollars to counterparts overseas.” The little-noticed actions helped ease a global dollar shortage and establish the U.S. central bank as the world’s “lender of last resort.”

While many have commented on the declining influence of the U.S. in the world, when it comes to the world financial system, the U.S.–and the dollar–still reign supreme.

Other news below, including the latest in the battle over TikTok.

Alan Murray


H-1B clampdown

President Trump has signed an executive order barring workers on H-1B visas from replacing American workers on federal contracts. The move marks an escalation of Trump's assault on the program that's designed to bring in high-skilled foreign workers, mostly from India. Fortune

TikTok review

A British lawmaker has called for TikTok to undergo a security review before owner ByteDance can set up a new global headquarters in London, as the Chinese company is rumored to intend (officially, it says only that it's looking for a site outside the U.S.) Neil O'Brien, who co-founded the hawkish China Research Group of Conservative parliamentarians, wants British intelligence to do a "deep dive" into TikTok's code. PS: Beijing is threatening retaliation against Washington if ByteDance is forced to sell TikTok's U.S. operations to Microsoft—a deal which President Trump says he'll approve if the U.S. government gets "a lot of money" from the sale proceeds. BBC

BP loss

BP reported an astonishing, by one measure, $17.7 billion loss for Q2, and has halved its dividend–though it says it will return at least 60% of its spare cash once its balance sheet is back on track. The British energy giant has also fleshed out its net-zero strategy by promising a 40% hydrocarbon production decline by 2030. Wall Street Journal

EasyJet rebound

EasyJet's share price (and that of rival Ryanair) has popped following better-than-expected passenger demand last month. There's context, though: EasyJet ramped up its capacity more slowly than its regional rivals did, so that might partly explain why it found it easier to fill seats. Fortune


Fiscal policy

U.S. central bankers have called for increased government intervention to support households and businesses during the pandemic. Chicago Fed president Charles Evans: "The ball is in Congress’ court. Fiscal policy is fundamental to a better baseline outlook, to a stronger recovery and getting the unemployment rate down, people back to work safely, and ultimately reopening the schools safely." Reuters

Twitter fine

Twitter has warned investors that it could face an up-to-$250 million FTC fine for using people's phone numbers and email addresses–submitted to the company for security purposes–to target ads at them. CNN

Visa insights

Visa CEO Al Kelly says the pandemic has slashed credit-card usage, but debit cards are still holding up. The decline in spending seems to come mostly from higher-income households. Other insights: working from home has gone well for Visa; and digital commerce is good for the company. Fortune

Spanish unemployment

Spain's unemployment figures have dropped (by 2.33%) for the first time since February. That still leaved 3.77 million people out of work, and July's jobless figure was 761,601 higher than a year previously, but the shift nonetheless indicated "a strong recovery in activity," said Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz. Reuters

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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