Who runs your business? Is it you or your employees? Which is better? Does it depend on the business?
Perhaps there is merit to both sides
This argument came up in a recent blog post discussion about keeping our business open longer hours, Want Higher Occupancy, Stay Open Longer and how, in doing so, our business increased noticeably on several basis points. The move caused a little riff from our employees as you might expect. However, in this instance I didn’t give them an option. Many of the comments we received from the post surrounded the topic of employee dissatisfaction, or perceived dissatisfaction, about extended hours in a field of work that typically closes up shop by 6 p.m. Staying open until 9 p.m. is perceived as radical.
Drive Them Until They Drop
In a former life I worked for someone else with a policy (or ritual) that you stayed late on Thursday evenings. The company brought in food and folks worked late dining on Chinese food or deli delight at their desks. That always seemed intrusive to me — to mandate folks to stay and work late. Heck, some people played solitaire on their computers, which is really silly, but stayed because the had to. Working hard, and working more than the standard 40 hours has always been part of who I am, but I want to come and go when I want, which is a contradiction to how we are running our own business now.
Is There a Better Way?
A small business is at a disadvantage, because if someone quits, there is likely little to no overlap. Therefore, it is sometimes easier to go with the flow and not upset the employee apple cart. We tested the idea of longer hours earlier in the year, and also saw an uptick in business, even with only staying open later a couple of nights. But whenever we would talk about staying open later more often, there was push back. Whenever we talked about less overlap there was push back. So, not until we simply said these are the new hours, and there will be no overlap did it happen. No one quit, and everyone has adjusted. Apparently we didn’t need overlap either, and business has increased.
The great companies of today, such as the famed Zappos, where customer service is off the chart, must take a different approach to employee wants and needs, or do they? They are able to get employees to do things that other companies only dream of. Having spent more time than I care to admit on airplanes, Southwest is another excellent example of empowered employees that can actually solve your problem.
So Who Makes the Rules?
We come full circle in that great companies have rules, they aren’t run nilly willy by the employees, and in some cases the folks heading up those great companies are hard drivers themselves. Where is the right balance, particularly for small business? I can tell you that our December partnership and investor meetings went much smoother due to better results. But what if half our staff had quit over the issue, which was my fear and the reason we didn’t do it sooner?
How many other critical decisions get nixed because we are afraid of how our employees may react?
How are you handling these things in your business, do you choose employee moral over better business results?