I did something the other day that I have never, in my almost twenty years of being in the work force, done before.
I covered a shift on my day off.
And not like one where a co-worker asks me to cover weeks in advance for a vacation they’re going on. I’ve done that before, but I mean like on the day of, my day off, I agreed to do my bosses a favor and go into work.
OK, so perhaps this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Especially since it’s something I’m guessing a lot of people do on a semi-regular basis and most probably don’t expect a standing ovation afterwards but you have to understand, I’ve never been what anyone would call a team player when it comes to my job. In fact I’m often the complete opposite, sometimes happy when I see my bosses in a jam and delighted to tell them no when they ask me to go an extra mile.
But then I’ve always worked for complete dicks. Like, so many of them it’s almost baffling.
Part of this is my fault. I’ve chosen to be in industries that aren’t exactly known for nurturing their employees. I spent a decade in the bar business and then switched to the spa business after that. Neither offer health benefits and both have a high employee turn over rate so they often treat their staff like they’re disposable. Not to mention that they pay next to nothing because tips are heavily relied on for a large part of worker’s incomes. So it’s not like I’m expecting much.
However I do hope for basic human decency and it’s astounding how little of it is provided in the service fields. This has always seemed weird to me. Is it not the simplest concept in the world when it comes to running a successful business, that when you treat your employees well, they’ll work harder for you? Doing the opposite is totally counter-productive, yet nearly every job I have ever held has been awful to the people that work for them. The stupidity of this never ceases to blow my mind.
I used work for a bar in lower Manhattan. One night we were shut down to accommodate the filming of a television show. The producers however, were nice enough to give the bar owners three hundred dollars for every bartender who was missing a shift that night. We knew this because a manager overheard the conversation where the offer was made. We were psyched! Three hundred bucks and we didn’t even have to go to work? Awesome! But we never got the money. A week later when the manager ran into the producer and asked him about it, the producer confirmed that he did, in fact, hand over twelve hundred dollars in cash to compensate the workers for their lost shift. The owners kept it for themselves.
Talk about a wrong move.
The last person in a restaurant you want to fuck with is the bartender. You know, the person with direct access to all that cash that’s coming in? Now, I’m not saying that I participated in this, but after it was discovered that the owners were stealing from the staff it was like a free-for-all on the registers with an average of four hundred dollars per night (I heard) going out of the tills and straight into the tip buckets.
You treat your employees like shit, your business suffers.
And it’s like this everywhere I go. It makes no sense. Even if they’re not flat out stealing from them, I consistently see employers treat their staff like they’re a dime a dozen. They dismiss all but the most basic of ways that operations could be improved and take the attitude that if the staff doesn’t like it, they don’t have to stay. It cultivates an atmosphere where none of the employees give a shit about the work they’re doing and some even take pleasure in seeing bad things happen to the company. I worked at one spa where my co-workers would often express they hoped the bitch who owned the place went out of business even though it meant they would lose their own jobs.
The last three months have been pretty hectic for me. I quit one awful job. Started another terrible one where I was fired after four days, quite possibly due to my lack of enthusiasm for their corporate policies which are described here and then started a brand new one about a month ago.
I’ve noticed something different at my current job though. The owners listen to what we employees are saying. They implement change that better helps us to help them. They’re not kissing our asses and it’s not like Google with a break room that holds four ping pong tables and a beer fridge. They are simply decent. They work with us, not against us. Which is all they have to do.
In one month, they’ve turned this stubborn, self-righteous and often cantankerous employee, into a team player. I go out of my way to do things for clients that I don’t necessarily have to. My sales are higher than they’ve ever been at any job and when I got a call at 8:30 in the morning on a day that I had all sorts of “me” stuff planned, asking if I could please come in and help out because two girls called in sick, I said no problem.
Well, not exactly no problem, you would have thought they asked me to find a cure for AIDS with the way I presented it to all of my friends, texting anyone who would listen that my life was just too hectic to handle right now because I got called in to cover a shift. But hey, at least I did it. Any other place wouldn’t have had a hope of me even answering the phone.
My thought is this though. If all it took was simply treating the staff with the most fundamental amount of respect to turn me around, imagine what that would do for all those go-getters out there. Why do I even have to write this? Be good to the people who work for you. Your business will thank you for it.