This was my first Christmas celebration since I started working for a private retailer versus a HUGE retail chain. What a difference! I feel like a person this year instead of a number. I spent time with my family instead of working crazy extended retail hours. Work is work, but I don’t feel as though I’m coming out of the season a brittle husk of a person stretched tissue-thin. It’s a nice change of pace!
I had a great conversation with my sister last night. She mentioned that it seemed as though employers expected their employees to behave as if they’re happy all the time, to be cheerful and smiling. “Have a nice day!” Employers want to create a positive experience for their customers, a positive first impression. But as she also pointed out, if you keep beating your horse with a stick as an incentive, sooner or later that horse is going to bite you…or worse. It’s certainly not going to be a happy pony. You can only get so much productivity and happiness out of your pony if you keep waving that stick around!
I laughed at her remarks because I can relate. (I think almost everyone can.) If you’re a good employee, you want to please your employer. You’re there to serve, and at the end of the week, receive a paycheck for your efforts. If you have good workers, you don’t need to threaten them with writeups and whatnot. Employees want clear expectations of what needs to be done, so they can do their job and earn their carrot! They don’t need to be threatened with more sticks, especially when they’ve done quality work or completed a task ahead of schedule. They just want their carrot.
(Can you tell I come from a horsey loving family? Yup! Carrots for everyone!! LOL)
I’m not saying we should live in a free-for-all world with no consequences for our actions, but I remember the corporate emails I used to read, written 2-3 DAYS before the upcoming holidays. Emails that went something like this: “We’ve decided to extend our holiday hours. Instead of closing at 9pm, we will be closing at 11pm. Please adjust your schedules accordingly. Also, you are reminded that employees are to stay a minimum of 2 additional hours after closing for clean up and recovery, per company standards. Happy Holidays!” Yes, there’s nothing like dragging your happy-self home at two in the morning after working 8-12 hours to put you in a festive mood. But, that’s the reality of a typical retail holiday season. And you wonder why your cashiers look so tired and crabby? Is it any wonder they’re showing you their teeth, but not for smiling?
It’s not just retail workers that are feeling the stick. Almost every profession is expecting more work to be completed with less ponies. And sadly, there seems to be a very limited supply of carrots being thrown about as an incentive.