Dear Wall Street Journal, Why Employers are Ghosted
Today, I read a Wall Street Journal article about these mysterious creatures called employees. It seems staff across the United States have stopped communicating properly and have just gone missing. The article includes a lot of data comparing employees to Irish leprechauns. I have been on both sides of the issue. I’ve been hired and fired from jobs. As a manager, I have been through every problem ranging from addicted team members to alcoholics, and the changing needs of senior citizens in the workplace. Things end for a very clear list of reasons that we’re uncomfortable talking about. I have found business journalism about the Great Resignation to be severely lacking. It would require an Ivy League-educated reporter to speak to a waitress.
Here is why people fall out of the system:
If a job doesn’t pay enough to provide stability, don’t expect an emotional attachment. Not a single article about the Great Resignation mentions that employees HAVE TO look around or it's at their own peril. Unless Macy’s will let you live there, let’s stop pretending everything is forever.
Stop fighting unions. When companies become as large as Home Depot, Amazon, Starbucks, and Lowes the employees make up a small city. Let them vote on real issues. When folks tried to unionize Amazon, they were arrested.
The pandemic brought to light that so many jobs people don’t respect are essential and require a skillset. Not to mention talent. A line cook that attended the CIA can’t make $14 an hour. They have a small fortune of student debt, a house, and kids. Walk into a Chipotle where someone thought it was a good idea to leave six teenagers alone to run a burrito stand. There is food all over the floor. Social media has made us all snobs. Elon Musk can’t hold the only socially acceptable job. Someone has to drive the bus and it’s a skilled job. Every job is a skilled job. 2020 flipped respect on its head. If we want these institutions to keep their doors open, we can’t treat cleaning ladies like slaves.
I’ll be the first to admit we waste a lot of money in this country on social services that people abuse. There are some that would be radically life-changing and would reshape the economy. Elizabeth Warren’s childcare plan is mind-boggling because she seems to be the only politician to know someone has to watch a baby if we want workers. We need to pay maternity leave (not on the backs of companies). It is absolutely traumatic to be pregnant and to worry about losing your livelihood.
If someone has young children, recognize their needs. I once sat in a meeting where a father of a five-year-old had to explain his son couldn’t drive himself to court-ordered visits with the mother. These kids were always at work events and people would complain about them. Stop acting like people don’t have children. I had another family member have to argue with a boss about picking their kid up from daycare. Don’t tell your employees to abandon a toddler at a closed daycare and then wonder where they went.
Workaholic situations can’t be saved. I have worked with chefs who will die at work. They think they’re supposed to and it is the source of their pride. Both times, I couldn’t save the person’s health and get them to take care of themselves. They had worn themself down so badly that I felt like I witnessed a nervous breakdown. A combination of toxic workaholism and control freak has chased off many people. Are you a helpable company? Are employees scared of success because of all the stress higher ups are living with?
Start treating employees like adults. My whip-smart cousin threatens to run from her high school classroom every time I talk to her. Why? Teachers are treated like children. They’re not allowed to use their common sense. Many of the kids going into high school next year, don’t belong there. During COVID, teachers couldn’t fail anyone. Teachers know about the problems coming in the next few years. This two-hour explanation on why teachers leave is fair. Teachers feel they have no support. I know one teacher that called for someone to come discipline a kindergartner who threw a chair. Nobody came. She sent the child to the office. The child went outside and the blame landed on the teacher. Yet we’re still leaving one adult to manage THIRTY five-year-olds.
Stop timing people. Your average big box store, warehouse, or call center has timers on employees. Nobody wants to learn a new job wearing a stopwatch. It gives the very people trying to help you even more anxiety.
Restaurants need to move to the European system of pay. The server should receive a fair hourly wage PLUS tips. That fair hourly wage does mean a server does any work asked of them instead of being too fancy to wash a dish. The other system of receiving a low-wage plus tips was designed for basic lunch counters. We are living in the foodie age where people will send their Waygu beef back three times after ordering it well done.
Unreasonable expectations. If we’re in this for the long haul listen to what the team member is physically capable of doing. If an employee lasts two years at an average speed that is a lot better than three days of anxiety attacks followed by walking out. If you love to read Reddit as much as I do, people bail after three days of doing freight work at a major supermarket. Why? They don’t even have a supervisor.
I didn’t want to write this. Hopefully, we can stop with the, “Hey….where did everybody go articles?”