Energy, food, fuel – the costs of all the basic essentials of life are increasing dramatically and rapidly. No wonder there is concern about inflation and widespread talk of a “cost of living crisis.” For all but the highest earners and the wealthy, life is increasingly becoming a question of what to do in order to survive.
This puts pressure on employers. After all, if you want to safeguard your operations, you need to ensure that you have the full attention, capacity and capability of your employees. In such circumstances this is hardly likely. Yet, while the news is full of stories of people who are struggling from payday to payday, there are never any reports of employers who are doing anything about it.
I have little doubt that this stems from historic attitudes, rooted in the concept of employees as “hires.” You persist in seeing the relationship as a contractual one. You thus avoid doing anything that risks personalising it. So, because the terms are mutually agreed, if the employee sees them as unsatisfactory, it is up to the employee to try to change them. You will only accommodate the possibility if you can “afford” to do so: i.e. if the effect on profits is acceptable.
This conundrum can be easily reversed by considering employees as assets. When you do this, you:
- Acknowledge their value;
- Treat them differently – not least by recognising their humanity and the fact that they are also investing in your business;
- Manage and account for them differently;
- Lay the foundation for a development partnership that fosters greater commitment and thus better long-term performance.
Think of it this way. Why do we always assume that hard times or a recession inevitably mean lay-offs and job losses? If we truly recognised the value of employees we would be far less inclined to turn to redundancy as an option and sacrifice the value, energy and capability that goes with it. In fact, in times like these, it would go a long way towards mitigating the cost of living crisis, minimising its impact and accelerating progress out of it.