Yes this is a picture of a seemingly naked man with chickens. Why, you may ask. Well, am not sure about the lack of clothes and have my fingers crossed that the bubble coming out of his mouth does not contain some expletives but I wanted a picture to represent the battery farming of employees’.
A friend confided in me the other day about his job (let’s call him Sid) and how it the company he was working for had decided to deal with the current economic changes. Sid mentioned that like many organisations in the current climate, his were trying to cut spending; they merged with another organisation, froze pay, and cut costs. Nothing new there unfortunately, but the thing that shocked me the most was the other conditions that he was working under:
Being kept in the dark- Employees at his organisation were not informed of decisions that affected them. They were given very little notice when the company merged and some of the staff were told the week before Christmas that a letter would arrive on Christmas Eve letting them know if they had a job or not.
No basic rights – New rules came into play if you are sick, you lose pay for the days that you miss and you will receive £30 fines if you are 10 minutes late for work no matter how late you stay in the evening. New responsibilities are added to their jobs, without consultation, and they are told do it or lose your job.
No room to grow/develop - Not surprising, what was originally an environment for productivity, creativity and laughter has now been replaced by fear, stress and doing only what you need to do. Sid’s colleagues are scared to say or do anything for fear of losing their jobs.
Obviously, this is only one side of the story and yes, companies are having tough times but there are things that you can do even when times are tough to improve the way you work and become sustainable.
How to free range your employees
Ask for help and listen - Each year this organisation would make thousands of brochures that no one ever used. In Sid’s office alone, the cost for this ran into 5 figures, enough to pay for a person for a year. As someone on the front line, he knew what was working and what wasn’t. Let’s imagine that each employee would have at least one idea to cut costs or improve productivity, what could that do to transform an organisation?
Collective growth – Apologises for continuing with the chicken analogy but people, like chickens, are sociable, intelligent animals which need to be free and grow. By giving them space to collaborate, to jointly solve problems and build a workplace that is strong enough to overcome problems will improve moral, create a stronger culture and create ownership.
Be open – Even after all of the above has been taken into consideration, there still might be a need to make difficult decisions but do it openly, by involving your employees.
We are in the 21st not the 19th Century but some practices are very antiquated and until companies make changes it will destroy their business.
Please feel free to share and post some of your stories or companies that are behaving badly or those that are being really innovative with their employees. By Mellissa Norman
Picture by @modalaci some rights reserved.