Good Employee Relations Start When the Competition Stops
“Without labor nothing prospers.” Sophocles
There’s a natural tension between capital and labor, employer and employee, boss and staff. It’s easy for either party to assume the other is getting the better part of the deal. Business owners accept more risk and stand to gain more; employees accept less risk in exchange for less potential gain. A worker is always free to leave for greener pastures; the owner is tied to the business. Owners create their own working conditions’; workers have to play by the owner’s rules. No wonder mistrust can sour the relationship.
As a staffing company, because we maintain relationships with both employers and employees we find ourselves in the unique position of sympathizing with both. It seems clear to us that both are seeking the same things: fair compensation—and respect—for their efforts. Here’s a little friendly advice for employers AND employees who find themselves competing fruitlessly with the opposite side.
1. Owners who treat workers as if workers have nothing at stake should recognize the value of their workers’ time. They invest a large portion of their most valuable commodity—their lives—into their jobs.
2. Workers who assume they have no share in profits should take stock of the profit sharing they already receive in the form of their salary.
3. Owners who envy the ease with which workers can change jobs should consider the concerns of employees who understand the ease with which they can be terminated when business goes sour.
4. Workers who covet their employers’ business success should recognize the sacrifice, commitment and risks it entails.
5. Owners who create onerous or demeaning rules for their employees should recognize the cost of those rules in commitment and productivity.
6. Workers who presume their employers have it easy should be given the results of their employers’ most recent stress tests.
Remember: you’re in the business together. You can both gain or you can both lose. But it’s unlikely either will win without the other.