Employees and Employers - What Are The Issues?

Ok, so it it just us, or are all business owners experiencing problems with employees?

We have always operated our business on the basis of treating our employees the way we would like to be treated; after all, we were employees of someone else a long time ago.

We have always had a policy of “you have a life,” meaning if you need to take time off to go to your kid’s school, great, just make sure you’re work is covered by someone else - we don’t want you to work overtime; it means we are understaffed - we want you to enjoy coming to work, not dread it.

While we were active in the business on a daily basis it worked great! The majority of our employees have been with us 10-18 years. At one point I joked that we needed to hire a “token” young person in order to get our health insurance rates down! And that is my issue…it seems that the younger people take advantage of our policies; don’t understand the incredible flexibility we offer. We never fired anyone; we worked with them. Seems these days that attitude is passe. We’ve fired at least three people in the last year (all new hires) for taking advantage of our flexible policies and just blatant disregard of basic business policies (not calling in when you had to take time off unexpectedly, using a company laptop during work hours to download photos and songs, etc.).

Some of it I take direct responsibility for - my former part-time assistant had been padding her hours for almost 4 years - to the tune of 50 - 75% more than was realistic. I never reviewed her timecard (hand created) I just assumed she would be honest.

Other things we've grappled with time and time again over the years are experiences with employees just up and leaving, including never calling and leaving us frantic thinking they were ill or injured, etc. I think that's a universal experience for anyone who's been in business any amount of time, no matter how "good" you are to your employees.

We have always tried to treat our employees exceptionally well, remembering what it was like to be an employee, not an employer. The old Golden Rule concept. And sometimes that has come back to bite us; but my husband, who is the more accepting of life's frustrations always says, "let it go...don't let it drag you down to their level." "What goes around comes around" is something he would say to me when I'd be upset about being taken advantage of...and his other favorite saying is "always err on the side of generosity, you'll never be in the wrong." I guess that goes for generosity of spirit as well as monetarily.

When I argued with him once about it "not being right" he quietly pointed out that the difference between how he looks at life and how I do is that he never expects it to be "right," or "fair" and therefore he doesn't let the negative things get to him and is pleasantly surprised when things go well. It's actually a much more reasonable approach and I have tried to emulate it. When I succeed at it I find I am much less stressed and when I fall back into my old ways I end up harboring tension and negativity, neither of which is good for one, or one's subconscious mind (remember the quotes, you are your thoughts and you become what you think).

Does it change how we treat current employees when we've been "burned " in the past? Yes and no. We still try to err on the side of generosity and remember the Golden Rule, but we have learned to temper it with reality and know that some people will always take advantage and not respond in kind. So we look at what is best for the business first and foremost now, and then at what we can afford to realistically do for our employees, whether it be a monetary issue or time-off, etc.

No comments: