A sad story about a woman who died from sleeping in her car while waiting for her next shift at a Dunkin’ Donuts. Carelessness aside, her struggle to make a living wage was real. Because many store owners don’t want to pay full-time benefits, many employees in the service sector have to work short shifts and fluctuating hours.
I started working since age 17. In my young adult life, I had worked as a server, cashier, greeter, sales rep, and various customer service roles. At certain points of my school life, I had to juggle two jobs (or one job and an unpaid internship) with my full-time coursework. Fortunately, I completed my degrees and was able to end the cycle of working many part-time jobs.
Not everyone has the opportunity that I had to obtain higher education and a white collar job. Indeed, new jobs are slowly coming back after the recession. However, the majority of job growth is in the lower-paying positions. The trend of short-term employment reinforces the ‘disposable employee model‘ where many workers faceincome uncertainty and zero job security.
Why should employers pay above the minimum wage?
To stay innovated. Find a way to distinguish your goods and services in the competitive market while treating your workers with respect.
It’s so easy to cut payroll without thinking about the real problem with the business. Investing more in the employees forces the employers to not just act like everyone else. Many successful companies adapted this model to do something different and amazing.
To make customers happy. Enough said.
Pay and train workers right to ensure the quality of customer service. I do most of my shopping online now to avoid poor customer service at the stores. Why complain when you know the store manager has no control over the environment where the workers barely make ends meet and receive minimal training?
To improve productivity. People simply care more when their hard work is recognized and rewarded.
Have you ever worked with someone so great that you can trust him/her with your whole department while you’re on vacation? That’s the essence of the Container Store’s hiring philosophy: “1 Great Person= 3 Good People”. Hire someone great, not just another warm body that is disposable. And yes, it is as horrible as it sounds.
To keep the best workers. They are your brand representatives and ambassadors. They remember your customers by name.
Employee turnover is very costly, especially when replacing the high performers. See how the coffee-house giant Starbucks is vamping its compensation structure and work policy to avoid losing the best employees.
Do you agree it’s time to give America a raise? If so, sign the petition!
Integrity. Innovation. Excellence. Respect. Diversity. Teamwork. Customers.
Wait…what other buzzwords did I miss?
Of course you can try those espoused values that everyone else uses and wait to see if they work for you. Or, you can be humble.
Humbleness is truly an underrated and misunderstood quality. Being humble doesn’t mean you’re selling yourself short. Doesn’t mean you’ll appear less attractive than your competitors. Humbleness allows you and your management to be agile, empathetic, and progressive. And you’ll be ready to lead your team for years to come.
It is not easy for Westerners to embrace the idea of humbleness when confidence tends to be the most sought-after trait that signifies success (or potential and even illusion of success). In fact, you can be humble and confident at the same time. Be humble about your organization’s current strategy and confident in your ability to serve your customers in an ever-changing market.
Did you know Blockbuster will go bust? Do you remember when Walkman was the coolest thing ever? Your business could be one of the sad examples in business articles or books. When the business is going well, most senior management are uber-confident in their current practices. Cashing in every day…what could possibly go wrong? They think they know it, they got it, and they own it. Think again.
Don’t be sad later. Be humble now.
- Listen to what your employees have to say. And I mean the ones who actually do the work such as interacting with your customers or supporting the services/products.
- Watch what customers are buying/using/asking for.
- Encourage your employees to pursue any credited or professional training, license or degree either you can afford to help them pay for it or not (there are tons of free industry training and webinars). I’m serious about ‘any’. It is ridiculous when a company has a specific rule for their tuition reimbursement program. Market changes so do in-demand skills. Can one possibly know all the in-demand skills in the next five years? We wouldn’t struggle with talent shortage if every company supported continuous learning and built that mindset into their business model.
- Try your competitors’ service or product. You’ll never know how good/bad your service/product is until you try the exact same thing from the other guy. Go to their website. Click on their ads. Subscribe to their email list. Buy something. Might as well take a sales call and listen to their pitch. You may learn a thing or two (plus it doesn’t count as corporate espionage; you’re only getting what their customers get).
- Take action based on all the findings above. This is the most important step. You won’t benefit from any of the fancy surveys and training you paid for if you don’t do something about it.