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Tom’s Opinion: Employee Exploitation

Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images

There is no shortage of posts on Facebook, Twitter and others about the so-called “little guy” getting the shaft from their fat cat business owners such as Walmart. The big guys take home the big bucks while the rank and file worker is one paycheck away from food stamps.

While I will agree that most working people are not overly excited to get out of bed and head to work each morning, there are business owners who do realize the benefits of their employees and reward them accordingly.

One CEO That Get’s It

Kip Tindell, CEO, The Container Store is one CEO that understands the value of employees. His philosophy is to, “Be selective in the people you hire.” “Pay them one and a half to double the going rate for that type of job.” His thinking is that an “A” employee is worth three “B” employees. Paying an “A” $15/hr. vs. paying three “B’s” $10/hr. results in more production, a more controllable payroll, and lower employee turnover.

He also values training. Tindell says that, “most companies train on the job with about 8 hours on average. Each of his full time employees complete over 250 hours of training.”

Some Ways to Get the Best From Your Employees

Having spent some time as a personnel manager I know first hand the value of employees and I also know that many owners and mangers are not good at motivating their employees. Here are some things I’ve learned about handling employees.

  • Public Humiliation: Employees are going to make mistakes. Holding them up to ridicule in front of their peers for making that mistake will bring everyone’s moral down. Train — don’t belittle.
  • Two Warm Fuzzies: One of my former employers told me that for every “cold prickly” you give an employee you give them “two warm fuzzies.” It’s easy to find fault with people; it’s a little tougher to praise them. Employees are no different than the rest of us. We all want to be appreciated for our work.
  • Provide a Challenge: All businesses have deadlines and goals but they must be attainable. Otherwise, what’s the point? Employees are not going to team up to reach goals or deadlines that are unrealistic. Make goals challenging but achievable with current staff and resources.
  • Share Data: Another of my former employers would hold monthly meetings and share company income data. Where we made money and where we lost money. People could see how their work affected the team as well as their personal paycheck. People are more than willing to work if you show them what they are working toward.

Some Final Thoughts

The vast majority of employers on Main Street USA see their employees as family. In large multinational corporations it’s hard to see that same feeling. Most people feel that the company cares little for the lower rungs of the employment ladder. They accept high employee turnover as just a cost of doing business. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be that way.

The largest corporations can find a family feeling within their own branch or at the store level. These are the ones that get a visit from upper management to see how they are producing at such a higher level. Take ownership of your job today and encourage others to do the same.

Improve the climate of your workplace. Employers change your attitude too. If you have to spend eight hours somewhere shouldn’t it be a positive experience for employer, employees and customers? And don’t you have some control over making it a positive experience with your personal attitude?

What tips do you have for making the workplace more enjoyable?

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