Posted by: doug308 | January 12, 2011

A Word of Caution for Employers

As we dove into this economic skid a couple of years ago there were a number of changes for the job market. Some of the more obvious ones include things like pay freezes, layoffs, and downsizing due to consolidations. And in some cases companies have asked their staff to pitch in a little more time for the same money to help them through these times. However, in a few cases that has been taken to the extreme.

Recently I have talked with people at a number of different companies, some of them with pretty recognizable names that seem to have used these conditions to take advantage of their workforce. The truth of the matter is that people want to help each other for the most part. And if asked, most folks will go out of their way to make sure things get taken care of, especially if asked directly by their immediate manager (once you get a layer or two up the chain of command their starts to be a disconnect). However, within some organizations there seems to be a trend to ask, or in some cases order, people to do not just a little more, but a lot more. In some cases that manifests itself in the form of turning the occasional voluntary overtime into compulsory overtime. In others that can mean showing up and announcing with the sound of a stack of files plopping onto your desk that you now have the responsibility of the guy in the next cubicle who got laid off last week. Well that my friends is a behavior that is going to come back and haunt you. When things were really bad people were happy to just have a job and they would put up with a lot to remain employed. But the employment market in power generation, especially in the nuclear industry, is improving and as things get better employers that took advantage of that situation are going to find themselves conducting a lot of exit interviews.

Can a company that chose this path redeem themselves? Well, in some cases yes. But they are going to need to commit more than just one or two acts of contrition (i.e. lots of praise for helping you out. Maybe a visit from a big shot or two doing the same thing) and I would strongly recommend trying to find some money in the budget to tangibly reward everyone who bit the bullet on your behalf. Another path might be to put those who went above and beyond on the fast track for promotions or allow them the pick of the projects coming up. But for those of you who will chose not to show these acts of appreciation (and we know who you are) be prepared to lose some good people. And rest assured that when someone comes along with something that offers a more interesting set of duties, a better reputation, or maybe even some more money your staff is going to listen.

The moral to this story, is that good times or bad you should treat people with respect and professionalism. Because if you don’t someone else will.

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