We were in Macy’s department store the other day and Mary Jane and I noticed that the items for sale had been totally rearranged. As we surveyed the scene we deducted that the purpose of the remodeling of clothing and shoes and housewares and fragrances…was to give the appearance of more items…when in fact there were less. As we looked further we could not help but see that that Macy’s staff were as scarce as hen’s teeth!
During my career with SIUC I spent 25 years in management of Building Services which is the housekeeping department of the Physical Plant. We were tasked with cleaning all of the academic and office buildings on campus and including the Arena and Shryock Auditorium as well as the Airport and the Carterville Campus. I counted every building and found that there were 200 +. Now we took our mission very seriously and worked to achieve immaculate buildings that parents would want to send their children to and students would want to study in.
And, so, the staffing cuts came, due to budget shortfalls around 1989…but the cleaning needs did not dissipate or receive a cut. In fact we did not experience our paramount enrollment until the mid-1990’s of nearly 25 thousand students at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. Now, during those boom years and budget shortfalls I witnessed game playing and work slow downs…not instituted by unions, as the myth would portray, but lead by managers and administrators…in the effort to illustrate the need for additional staff!
Today, I see civil service staff who’s numbers have been decimated do to enrollment shortfalls and misplaced priorities. I not only see my valiant colleagues doing more with less…but performing two and three and four peoples jobs and receiving neither a minimal raise in pay nor any effort to alleviate the work stress that these precious people undergo on a daily basis!
It has been said…many times…that they should be glad that they have a job…and that is an insulting assertion! Anyone who has ever been without a job…is glad that they have a job!
I shop at Kroger supermarket almost every day. It is a busy store. Although there are several checkout lines…there are no more than one or two of them staffed. However, there are a dozen or more self check-out kiosks that almost no one wants to utilize…because we realize that they represent a cut in staff and a reduction in opportunity for our Southern Illinois neighbors!
But, the rule of our stock market driven society is that the less employees that a business has and the higher dividends that the company can produce for it’s shareholders…the mission of the organization is realized.
There is a reason that the American workforce is becoming sicker by the day. There is a reason that job-stress clouds the mind and dampens the spirit of countless professionals who want only to work hard and produce an excellent work product.
We tell our employees to deliver service with a smile…and to replicate the old Hertz Rent a Car commercial that had the iconic catch phrase, ‘Hertz Puts You In The Driver’s Seat’….and to treat our wonderful customers with another maximum from McDonalds….’We Do It All For You!’ And then we wonder what the morale problem is when our staff has a hollow and vacant stare out of sleepless eyes and fallen hopes for the future?
Whether you are the janitor or the grounds worker or the cashier or the department store employee…increasing work without reward…is a prescription for disaster!
There was a day…in my lifetime…that the middle class and blue collar workers did not begrudge the CEO a good salary…because they felt compensated for the yeoman duties that they were performing. They could pay their bills and purchase a little house and drive a decent automobile and take a week vacation each year.
Now, both the husband and wife work…often more than one job each…and they continue to slip on the ladder of success and incur the mental and emotional stress of knowing that they are one paycheck away from disaster and a few weeks from oblivion!