Beneath the vigorous (and very public) debate over the New York Times’ recent article on Amazon's "bruising" workplace, a great opportunity is emerging: a chance for employers and employees to better understand one another...an understanding which can restore some much-needed balance to today's workforce.
Over its 3 decades of providing Human Resources services to some very entrepreneurial clients, PhoenixHR LLC has been in a unique position to assess the workplace from the perspective of both employer and employees.
We've seen (and helped enforce) legislation implemented over the years to (deservedly) protect employees from various forms of workplace abuse; we've also seen employees who try to take advantage of that legislation with false claims and frivolous lawsuits in attempts to get "easy money". We've seen hard work and sacrifice by both employers and employees, sometimes properly recognized and credited, sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. We've seen the "aggressive" side of employers who constantly demand excellence from employees; we've also seen many employees who give as little effort as possible to their jobs while expecting maximum pay and maximum perks. We've held the meetings for employees laid off due to business downturns, comforting them as much as possible through their tears. We've also attended the meetings that most employees never see where management has agonized over making the tough decisions of being forced to cut good people. Net-net, it's time for employers and employees to get back to some level-headed basics:
- Employees: There is nothing wrong, illegal or unfair about an employer expecting every one of its employees to work hard and excel.
- Employers: How you demand excellence matters...comply with employment law in making your demands, and in how you treat employees. Don't think of your employees as human "capital" - they are not disposable commodities or equipment. Instead, think "human being" and “valuable talent". When you receive the excellence you demand, don't take it for granted. Recognize your employees' efforts (and remember recognition doesn't necessarily have to cost money).
- Employees: Don't leave your work ethic at home. Bring your A-game to work every day. A job is the delivery of services for income, a job is not an entitlement or a welfare program.
- Employers: Excellence in the workplace does not happen magically. Hire the right candidate for the right job the first time....and once you have him/her, train and educate properly. Don't expect excellence if you leave your new hires on their own to sink or swim.
- Employees: Mentally change places with your employer every once in a while. Have you ever thought about how hard it is to start a successful business from scratch? We guarantee your employer knows first-hand. Remember that raising a business is like raising a child. Business owners are "parents" and their business is their "child"....a "child" born from months (often years) of hard labor. So of course business owners are "passionate" about their "child" and want to maximize their child's success. Think about all those "behind the scenes" meetings which all employers have that you’ll never hear about...meetings where hours are invested finding ways to improve or maintain employee benefits in the face of ever-increasing costs or trying to avoid layoffs. Just because your employer doesn't publicly say "we love you, we love you" every five minutes doesn't mean your employer doesn't care.
- Employers: Communicate with your employees clearly and frequently, especially your virtual employees. Employees who feel "disconnected" from the company, are unsure of how it is doing or what it is striving for are less likely to care about excelling in their job.
- Employees: Remember that it's not all about you. Remember that everything you do in your job directly - or indirectly - affects both your internal customers (your fellow employees) and your external customers (without whom your company has no jobs to offer you or anyone). Wasting company resources hurts everyone you work with, not just your employer. Ditto for the damage done by frivolous lawsuits from employees trying to "get even". Frivolous lawsuits cost a lot of money to defend...and steals money that employers can reinvest in improving the company and rewarding deserving employees.
- Employers: Avoiding (or at least containing) frivolous litigation is easy in concept, but sometimes harder in practice. There is no magic formula, but cultivating a sense of fairness and doing the right thing when dealing with employees is key. Peter Drucker (a renowned management consultant, educator and author whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation) said it best: "Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things".
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Regards, PhoenixHR LLC