Can Marissa Mayer Really Turn Around Yahoo?

May 11, 2013 by Community Member
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Guest post by Stacy Hilliard (learn more about the author at the end of the article):

Last summer, Marissa Mayer was named the CEO, director and president of Yahoo. Prior to taking that position, she worked for more than a decade at Google and helped launch more than 100 features and products.

A piece from Bloomberg News notes that in recent years, competitors like Facebook and Google have been better able to maintain user traffic and appeal to advertisers. In contrast, Yahoo has seen declines in sales for three years in a row. Since she took the office, Mayer has been in the news constantly. Below, we’ll look at some of the things she’s decided to do so far, and whether they might be enough to help Yahoo return to prominence.

Doing Away with Telecommuting

Earlier this year, Mayer made waves by deciding to end Yahoo’s work at home program. The announcement was met with much resistance, especially since flexible work options are the norm for many technology companies. Although it took her a couple of months to respond, Mayer defended her choice by saying that telecommuting is “not what’s right for Yahoo right now” when she spoke at an industry conference. Also, according to an article at CNN, the policy change only affects a couple hundred of Yahoo’s 12,000 total employees.

The Positive Sides of a Telecommuting-Free Work Zone

Despite the backlash over the ban, some industry experts feel it’s a smart move. Communicating digitally through e-mail or text is certainly convenient, but a study from the Harvard Business Review discovered that performance levels increased when teams of employees socialized face-to-face to generate ideas and depended on e-mail only for operational issues. Also, Mayer’s head human relations expert, Jackie Reses noted that if people work from home, the speed and quality of the output often goes down.

Expanding Maternity Leave Privileges

Last fall, Mayer was the subject of controversy when she gave birth to her son and only took two weeks away from the office. The transition may have been easier to manage since she opted to spend her own money and build a nursery for her son at the office, according to an article from the Daily Mail.

Recently, she improved benefits for Yahoo workers that may soon be pregnant, or are pregnant now. What’s more, the benefits don’t just extend to mothers. Specifically, new mothers and fathers can take a total of eight paid weeks of parental leave, and mothers can have an additional eight weeks beyond that. New parents are also given $500 to go towards necessities for their little one, such as clothing and food. Previously, Yahoo did not give paternal leave to fathers, and the amount of leave time given to mothers varied by state, as reported in a Reuters piece.

The Possible Effects of the New Benefits

Analysts at NBC News say that this new policy could go a long way in attracting and retaining good employees. Eventually, the ability to lure and keep valuable employees could help Yahoo compete with other well-known companies like Google. There, employees get plenty of perks, and many of them are well-known even by people who don’t work there.

Although there’s still a long way to go in helping Yahoo make a comeback and it’s too early to tell if these changes will make favorable differences, Mayer has already proven she’s not afraid of making decisions that may not always be popular, and that, at least is one of the most frequently recognized characteristics of a strong leader.

About the Author

Stacy Hilliard is a writer for several schools that offer online MBA degrees such as Northeastern University.

Community Member

Women on Business Community Member

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Vic May 13, 2013 at 9:52 am

On Marissa Mayer’s decision to end work at home program – I do believe that a good leader should trust his employees and it’s possible even for a big company to have a great team of employees working from home.

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