During the dot com boom, many companies were instituting policies to entice employees to stay and attract new talent. Concepts such as flex time were implemented, casual dress became the norm and employees became expert foosball players. A large emphasis was placed on keeping employees happy and, the logic went, more creative and productive. When the bubble burst, many of these policies were allowed to stick around (as it's nearly impossible to take a benefit away from people without huge repercussions); however, few companies put any resources into furthering any of these programs.
I've heard estimates that each new hire (for example, engineering students coming straight from college) cost a company > $200,000 in their first year.
This number includes first year salary and benefits, work-time lost by other employees to get the new employee up-to-speed, technical and non-technical training, and other expenses such as setting up benefits and the cost of recruiting that employee. If a company's philosophy is to treat employees as commodities, it should at least consider how much each employee is really worth and consider how much it costs to implement fewer restrictive rules and exercise greater trust in employees.
Here at ReadyTalk, the employees come first. Like Mike mentioned in a previous post, hiring the right individuals is very important to the company. Our dogs come to work with us, we have a kitchen full of community food (and it's not there to encourage us to work long hours), the ping pong table gets a fair amount of use and it's a rare moment when someone is unhappy to be here. There are few rules and a great deal of trust. It's impossible to tell the workspace of our CEO apart from the workspace of, say, a project manager. The list is long (it continues to grow) and it, indirectly, is another contributor to the success of our company. Have you noticed the difference in attitudes of employees who work in places where there is great distrust in management versus a place like ReadyTalk?