“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”
This notice has got to be one of the most beautiful and touching corporate statements to ever have graced the world of advertising. Many companies claim their employees are important, but do not show it in such tangible and public ways. I’d like to commend Costco and other stores who have decided to take this stance.
If you don’t like it, stop working retail
This is the cry of many in answer to employees who dare ask for holidays off to spend with their families. Well my friend, this is far easier said than done. Everyone working in retail is not there because that was their dream career. Not to diminish in any way the importance of those in customer service positions. There are stars in every field and I have been waited on in stores by some sales associates that are clearly operating in their gift. I left the store feeling like I was a valued customer and my allegiance was sealed.
However, we must admit that some of us work in retail simply because we need to. In this economy, you can see three cashiers in stalls right beside each other. They are all making the same salary, but one has a GED, one has a Masters degree, and one has a Ph.D. Some people are forced to take what they can get until they are able to find something in their field. This is not to say that we will not give it our all. We are there to do a job and determined to be the best at it that we can possibly be. It still doesn’t mean that we want to spend holidays there.
Hospitals and restaurants are open
Yes they are. But people need medical care at times that may fall outside of the parameters of normal business hours. And people require food to live. The critical difference is that as pleasurable as shopping is, it is not a necessity, and should not be treated as such. We all commend the people in essential positions such as police and fire personnel, those in the armed forces, etc. Department store employees, in my opinion, do not fall into this category.
How can this issue be resolved?
1. For one thing more companies can emulate large organizations like Costco (number two retailer in the whole nation) who seem to have their employees’ best interest at heart. Businesses like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby extend this same care to their employees by closing their doors each and every Sunday so their employees can have a day of rest to spend with their families. This is unbelievably awesome as a business model.
2. Corporations should not let fear make them estrange their employees. Some stores are scared that the profits they would lose by being closed on a Sunday or on a holiday might cause them to go bankrupt. Not so. Again Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are actually turning a profit, and not surprisingly, have a lot less turnover than jobs that put opening earlier on Thanksgiving over family values.
3. If a company feels that they absolutely must open on holidays, please have the decency to give workers a choice. It seems most of the tension arises from people being forced to work. In almost any schedule, there should be a little wiggle room.
- The first thing a supervisor should do is let it be known that holiday pay is available.
- Then canvass the team and see how many people are available and want to work. If the big boss mentality could take a back seat for just a moment, managers would be surprised at how many people might actually sign up to work for an extra time and a half per hour.
- If this has been done and there still is not enough coverage, close the store. If a shutdown is not a feasible option, then start the manhandling in a fair way. Require the employees with the lowest seniority to work, and then two-step your way up to demanding the long time employees show up. Handle things in proper order.
I cannot stress how important it is for supervisors to be sensitive to the needs and desires, when possible, of their workers. There’s a reason old adages like “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” have lasted for centuries, and some of these sayings should become a staple in business management curriculum.
Kudos once again to business giants like Costco who are leading the way in putting the human back in human resources. Be good to you employees, and your employees will be good to you. They will be more content and more apt to bend over backwards to present the company in the best light, which will reflect in their customer service, which will keep people coming in your doors to spend money. Yes it will become a cycle, but a cycle of the best kind.
Finally, as a corporate leader the only truly ethical way to decide if your stores should be open on a holiday or a Sunday is to mirror your headquarters office. Of course employees will resent having to be away from their families on Thanksgiving knowing that if they dialed the corporate offices, they would get a recorded message that the offices are closed in observance of Thanksgiving.
***Bottom line company owners, if corporate is going to be open, keep your stores open. If you have decided that your corporate headquarters will be closed, well for the love of everything that is not hypocritical, close your stores. And please support stores that support their employees. Click here for a list of companies that have chosen to take the high road this year.