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Should You Let Your Employees Vote About Where To Move Your Offices To? Probably.

I'm p*ssed off but I'm too polite
When people break in the McDonald's line
Mom and Dad you made me so uptight
I'm gonna cuss on the mic tonight

I'm rockin' the suburbs
Just like Michael Jackson did
I'm rockin' the suburbs
Except that he was talented
I'm rockin' the suburbs
I take the cheques and face the facts
That some producer with computers fixes all my sh*tty tracks

--Rockin' The Suburbs, Ben Folds

It's a classic example of "don't ask the question unless you're going to honor the answer."

Let's say you've decided that you're going to move your offices to another location - due to space needs, effective rent issues or other reasons.  You're in the market, looking at 5-6 different locations and you've cut it to two,both with a fairly even number of pros/cons.  

Do you let your employees vote on which location they'd rather be at?  HealthSouth, headquartered in Birmingham, recently did just that. More from AL.com:

"HealthSouth CEO Jay Grinney surveyed all of his corporate employees while looking at potential sites for the new headquarters: Would you rather work in Liberty Park or in downtown Birmingham?

The company had narrowed down the move to spots in Liberty Park or in an area near Regions Field downtown. But the answer from the 500 employees who work in the corporate headquarters was resounding.

"Something like 70 percent of our employees preferred the [Liberty Park] site over downtown," Grinney said. "A lot of people and other leaders in the community were really urging us to go into the midtown location. I, personally, did not want to make a move where 70 percent of the corporate employees would not be happy."

How do you view that information?  55/45 probably doesn't tell you to go to one location or another.  60/40 might, but 70/30 closes the deal.  I think it's a good idea to ask people how they feel, but only if you're OK with giving that opinion weight in the final decision should the majority be clear and you're willing to report back.  Otherwise, don't ask.  

Grinney went on to take a shot at regional planning in the Birmingham metropolitan area:

"About a decade ago, officials suggested building an elevated toll road over U.S. 280, igniting a years-long controversy over the project. Communities including Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills protested the highway. Years later, the project lost momentum. 

"It's sort of ironic," Grinney said. "If we, as a community, had chosen to proceed with the elevated toll road that was being contemplated several years ago, that toll road probably would have been completed by 2018. Had that been the case, we probably would be going downtown, because traffic congestion would be a moot point." 

It's a good lesson that a lack of regional government will effectively slowly choke out the urban core of any city (in the case of Birmingham, affluent suburbs the toll road was going to have to be built through effectively killed the project).

As a result, HealthSouth will be rocking the suburbs - like Ben Folds.

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