Respecting Employees

In a piece by Hannah Dougherty in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept. 10, she asserts that employers can boost business by respecting their employees. I couldn’t agree more. But, I wonder if this is where we are in 2014 with employment in America?

Too many employers see labor as just a cost. As such the goal is “how do we keep the cost low.” This means low wages, and now a new wrinkle, which is “when I need you scheduling”. If the employee is a just a unit to be placed in a time slot when I need them, I don’t really care much about what havoc it may cause for the person or the family of the worker to arrange their schedule around my ever changing day to day and week to week needs. If they want a job, they will cope.

This is hardly a way to respect the employee. When the CEO of Starbucks heard about the N.Y. Times article on this subject in Sept. of 2014, it didn’t take him long to see how this practice was not sending a very good message to the teammates of Starbucks. He announced a couple of days later that Starbucks would no longer do this.

Labor is a cost, but that is not all it is. Workers are other adults who need to be respected. They have lives; they have schedules to meet, and desires for attention and feedback about their performance. I have a whole chapter in The Ten Commandments of Management on giving performance reviews and how the manager is obligated to do this. This is especially true if they want to respect their employees and get the best from them.

Given my experience of interacting with service personnel in many low paying jobs, I am not sure that managers are giving them the respect they need and deserve. Until they do, we are likely to continue to periodically see lackluster service.

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