Tag archive for "workers"

by Bill, Management

On ObamaCare, Employers, and the Full-Time vs. Part-Time Decision

4 Comments 18 February 2013

With full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) now within sight, every organization with a payroll and a modicum of good sense is getting serious about determining their strategy and tactics with respect to the act.

Some have already decided to go ahead and upgrade their health care insurance programs to make them compliant with both cost and coverage requirements of the act. Many are taking a “watchful waiting” approach to see how the first few organizations that pay a fine and dump their workforces (in whole or in part) onto the state insurance exchanges fare. Many others, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, signal that they will be shifting even more to a workforce constituted of part-time workers in order to escape the act’s coverage requirements. At first blush, the act seems to incentivize some to do just that. Although every management must decide what’s in the best interest of their stakeholders, it is this last group that we’d like to focus on.

In a recent webinar sponsored by People Report and Black Box Intelligence (very credible organizations that provide info. services to the restaurant industry), the unmistakable take-away was that reliance on part-time vs. full-time workers will be a Big.Dot.Issue. 82% of the mostly restaurant managements surveyed indicated that cutting worker hours in order to reduce the number of full-timers with mandated benefits would be their likely approach. Further, 80% of those surveyed indicated that it was their intent to hire a greater ratio of part-timers going forward.

On the surface, swapping one full-time worker for two or more part-timers seems a perfectly sensible thing to do if it helps you avoid a significant expense for worker health care benefits. Yet, managements that make such a move based purely on avoiding the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance are opening yet another, possibly costlier can of worms.

Regardless of the number of hours each person works, the addition of each incremental real, pulsating human being (RPHB), aka “heads” to the beancounters in the crowd, adds significant complexity and cost to the mix. Here are just a few of the factors to consider:

  1. Additional pressure on the physical plant (think bathrooms, parking spaces, work stations, et. al.)
  2. The task of communicating with and leading, directing, guiding the workforce becomes more complex. At some point, additional managers must be hired due to span of control issues.
  3. Recruitment and training costs go up, way up.
  4. Barring some clear and reasonably predictable way to migrate from part to full-time status, you must either recruit from a totally different demographic, or face the prospect of having a bifurcated (and not necessarily enchanted or engaged) workforce. (Think A-scale and B-scale and how well that worked for commercial airlines.)

We don’t advocate one approach over another. Rather, that each management team get beyond the surface considerations and consider all the implications. And, not to put any pressure on you, but you need to do it soon.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

 

by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Discretionary Effort: Why Wisconsin’s Governor (and Yours) May be Playing a Losing Game

No Comments 27 February 2011

Having already wrung needed and significant concessions from them, the newly elected Governor of Wisconsin has been making a rather poorly disguised effort to nullify the collective bargaining agreements and rights of various groups of state workers, principally teachers. As with nearly every other issue of import these days, the whole world is suddenly watching, including like-minded governors in several other states who are licking their chops at the prospect of following the lead penguin into the drink. Whoa… Full Flaps, Brakes, Stop!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am no fan of labor unions. Indeed, a significant portion of my professional effort over the course of 3 decades has focused on helping organizations obviate unions by maintaining a positive employee relations culture, a culture in which both the individual and the organization can do their best work and gain the most from it.

That said, I respect every worker’s right to make a choice as to whether or not they are willing to enter into a direct, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship with their management. That choice is most often based on whether or not management has earned the benefit of the doubt. If the answer is yes, workers feel no need to reach out and seek (let alone pay for) the protection of organized labor. Are you with me so far? Alright, hang on.

Demonstrations notwithstanding, I believe there is an even chance that Governor Scott Walker will pull off some kind of flash bang, middle of the night vote and get his way, even if it means reinventing the law right before our eyes. Even if that comes to pass, while winning the hand, he will lose the game. Correction, the people of Wisconsin will lose. How? Because there will still be a need for thousands of teachers, and every one of them will STILL make a quiet daily decision as to whether they want to give their full measure of effort that day, or mail it in. Given the backdrop, which choice do you think they will make?

For the last twelve years we have worked almost entirely within the field of Discretionary Effort, studying, writing, speaking, and teaching leaders about that extra layer of effort that every one of us can give to a situation if, but only if we want to. Eerily consistent with similar work by Towers Watson and Gallup, our own engagement surveys suggest that barely 50% of workers are, by their own admission doing their very best work, and that most of us routinely expend no more than 60 to 70% of our maximum effort in the workspace. In other words, a lot of unspent capacity goes home with us at day’s end.

So, if just half of the 50,000 or so teachers in a state, any state choose to ratchet the ‘ole effort meter back another 10-20%, what is that going to cost to compensate for the lost productivity? Perhaps more importantly, what will it do to the level of educational performance in the state? If you’re getting a mental image of a post office being superimposed over your local school district, you’re getting the picture.

Since the publication of our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk in 1998, we have maintained that giving workers (be they on an assembly line at GM, or a school in Racine) benefits they haven’t earned, the market doesn’t require, and you can’t afford is the antithesis of good employee relations, because some day you have to take all that stuff back. As the folks at GM did, and now a lot of teachers and other municipal workers face that same music, the last thing in the world we, through our elected representatives ought to be doing is rubbing their faces in it, just because we can. It’s not good business or good politics, and it’s certainly not good employee relations. Motivated people move faster.

As always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Leadership, Management

Leadership Lessons From the Wisconsin Budget Crisis

No Comments 19 February 2011

Politicians of every stripe, particularly in the State of Wisconsin, are predictably getting into their respective corners over the degree and methods by which deficit spending should be reduced at the expense of government employees, particularly those who are unionized. It’s a serious matter in nearly every jurisdiction, and one that deserves both sacrifice and some of our best thinking.

Amidst the hue and cry, one important fact seems to be escaping all of them, regardless of political persuasion. That fact has to do with how workers, government or otherwise, come to be organized (members of a union) in the first place.

Nearly 40 years ago, Dr. Charles Hughes offered that, “any management that gets a union deserves it”, a precept that is as valid today as it was back then. Employees seek the protection of and hire a labor union to level the playing field when they believe that they are otherwise powerless to deal with an arbitrary, capricious, or unskilled management. In other words, one of the primary root causes of the situation we find ourselves in today is the abject failure of managers who were paid to lead and didn’t. Translation: Much of this damage is self-inflicted.

Regardless of how the pie gets re-divided so that government can continue to function and not default on its fiscal obligations, we’re proposing that, going forward, serious attention be focused on the quality of leadership in government. It will yield far better outcomes than getting into a public pissing contest with your employees and the labor unions that at one time management made necessary.

Now, as for Wisconsin, we’ve got some advice for the governor:

  1. Back off from the union busting rhetoric and activities. It’s a losing hand. If you truly want to de-certify unions, do it through better management, as private sector employers have done. Once your employees feel that they are being capably managed, listened to, and have no need to pay union dues, trust me, they will solve the problem for you.
  2. Deal firmly with state employees who are abusing sick leave, their constituents, and working peers by skipping work in order to protest. Order all employees who are not on approved leave back to work, and begin replacing those who fail to comply.
  3. Lower the volume and sit down (yes) with union leaders and representatives of all employee groups, show them the state’s books, and convince them that reaching immediate, sensible compromise on a phased increase in burden sharing for employee benefits, and making needed work rule amendments is better than the alternative.
  4. Initiate an immediate audit of management talent and worker engagement levels. (If you think government pension expenses are outrageous, and they are, take a look at what 40-70% lost productivity due to employee disengagement is doing to you every single day. Can you spell Post Office?) Beginning with your own senior staff, deal swiftly with those who are struggling with the leadership aspects of their jobs. Get them some help (training or coaching) if it’s applicable, or move them out. Perhaps Illinois has some job vacancies. :-)

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book, Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Leadership, Motivation

On Mission, Motivation, and Discretionary Effort

No Comments 24 May 2009

This morning, as I watched TV coverage of the space shuttle Atlantis touching down at Edwards Air Force Base in California, I said a silent prayer of thanks for the safe return of the craft and crew. Today’s landing completed the 124th successful space shuttle flight (of 126 attempts). That’s an admirable success rate for something that is still a quite dangerous activity. But is it really successful? What exactly have we succeeded at? More to the point, what did we set out to do? What is the mission of our space program?

Full stop. I’m not, repeat NOT beating up on NASA. It’s just that their purpose, their raison d’etre isn’t so clear any more. When President Kennedy announced the moon mission in 1961, it was crystal clear. Today, not so much. Similarly, when we took military action against Iraq in the first Gulf War, our purpose was entirely clear. Today, not so much. So what’s the point? Simple…

When you ask a group of people to come together and really lean into an activity, any activity, the odds of getting selfless, truly committed, balls to the wall effort are entirely dependent on them having a clear sense of purpose and direction. That is especially the case when you’re asking them to sacrifice, to bleed for the cause, and continue doing it over a protracted period.

Today, owing to intense global competition, a sputtering economy, and a financial meltdown of epic proportion, we’re all asking workers to suck it up, expend copious amounts of their discretionary effort, and in general to TOFTT. That’s perfectly appropriate, but we must understand that motivating people to do something out of fear (of financial penalty, losing one’s job, extinction, what have you) is effective only in the short term. Not unlike the jolt one gets from a cup of coffee, the benefits quickly wear off. As leaders of the currently out of favor political party are figuring out, it is simply not sustainable. In a sprint, fear works. In a marathon, hope wins… every time. So what to do?

1. As leaders in the midst of a storm, we must redouble our efforts to explain and reinforce for all hands on deck what it is we’re about, what the organization stands for, and where it’s headed. Do not assume that people remember something that you think you made clear six months or even six days ago. There are simply too many other competing thoughts in their minds at present.

2. Make darned sure that your people understand, explicitly, where they fit in and why their work, their best effort, matters. Don’t just tell them, show them.

3. Once the mission and expected contribution are clear, advise your folks that they are at liberty, no, expected to discontinue any activities that do not support those purposes. You’ll be pleasantly amazed how much wasted effort comes to a screeching halt.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Management

Mad Cows in the Workplace

No Comments 28 April 2009

Over the past dozen years we’ve worked diligently to build a brand centered on the premise that treating people (workers) right yields better business outcomes. The evidence is irrefutable. Whether in good times or bad, companies like Marriott International, Wegman’s Foods, Chick-fil-A, Pebble Beach Company, and a host of others skillfully (and profitably) use their relationship with employees as a competitive weapon.

One thing we’ve not focused on much, and perhaps its time we did, in view of the havoc being created by a still tough economy, is the fact that treating workers well also helps preclude the organizational equivalent of Mad Cow Disease. In other words, it helps keep bad things from happening.

Let’s face it, when people get bored, frustrated, or feel they’ve been mistreated or taken for granted, they frequently strike back. Whether it’s appropriate or not, the target of their ire is often the workplace, specifically the institution and its management. Witness the recent YouTube incident involving two Dominos Pizza employees making “special” orders, or incidents of malicious damage done by fired IT workers at the Wand Corporation and Fanny Mae, as reported at INC.com. These types of incidents do more than just damage brands. They cost real money, and in some cases, threaten the very existence of the enterprise.

Though having an engaged workforce doesn’t innoculate an organization against Mad Cow employees, it certainly helps. For one thing, acts of spite, vengeance, or larceny don’t often occur without the tacit knowledge or support of others. Et tu Bernie Madoff? Engaged co-workers are far more inclined to report such incidents, or take direct measures to stop them before they play out. Those who are less committed are more likely to turn a blind eye. Even if they’re being fired, people who believe they are being treated humanely and fairly in the process don’t often resort to bad behavior. Indeed, some go on to speak quite well of the organization.

For the record, once again, treating people right doesn’t mean lowering standards or giving workers things they haven’t earned, the market doesn’t require, and you can’t afford. To the contrary, it does mean:

• Giving people real work, meaningful work to do, along with the freedom to pursue it. People want to be in the game, not on the bench.

• Maintaining high standards. Deep down, we all realize that high standards are a necessary precursor to winning, and nobody wants to spend the majority of their day losing, or hanging out with losers.

• Making sure people see a crystal clear connection between their work and real, paying customers; and that they understand fully where the organization is going and why.

• Having leaders who are skillful, authentic, and especially important these days, optimistic.

• Showing genuine appreciation for a job well done.

BTW, If you want to see a real mad cow, ‘er bull indoors, check this out:

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com


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Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.

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