business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we took note of a CNBC story about how "quiet hiring" is a workplace phenomenon likely to occur this year, defined as "when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees … Sometimes, it means hiring short-term contractors. Other times, it means encouraging current employees to temporarily move into new roles within the organization."

I commented, in part:

One of the examples cited in the CNBC story is "Australian airline Qantas, which asked executives to address a labor shortage last year, in part, by rotating in as baggage handlers."   This reminded me of the conversations we were having here last week about Southwest Airlines, and how the company's founding CEO, Herb Kelleher, exemplified this sort of attitude before it was a management buzzword.  There are few messages more clarifying than when a senior executive grabs a mop or takes over a checkout lane or carries bags out to a car.  And when this kind of attitude is institutionalized - part of the executive's regular responsibilities, it becomes a cultural norm, not an anomaly.

MNB reader Julie L Covar wrote:

It's interesting, I think, that your examples highlight flexing down levels — executives hopping on a register or handling baggage.  Yes, those things send a signal that we are all in this together to get the job done, that no one is more important than anyone else, and that everyone is responsible for the company’s success.  What I see in real life is employers asking lower level employees to flex UP - taking on responsibilities and tasks that have historically belonged to higher level roles - and failing to accompany those requests with appropriate additional compensation and/or title.   THAT sends an entirely different message - and not a good one. 

MNB reader Bob McGehee responded:

My first job in the grocery industry was in a union shop.  One of the rules was when someone is temporarily (40+ hours) replaced by a lower paid employee, that person receives ½ the difference between their regular pay and the person being replaced.  I.E., person being replaced regular pay is $10/hour and the replacement’s regular pay is $5/ hour.  While doing the temporary job, their pay was $7.50/hour.  Both the employee and employer recognize there is a skill/proficiency difference and pay is adequately adjusted.  Sounds like that equation might be applied today.  Very simple but might be a good starting point. 

Another idea.  I have had the privilege of hearing Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A speak.  It is their policy that all executives serve at least 4 hours/week on the Help Desk.   Also, very simple and good starting point. 

On another subject, this note from an MNB reader:

You have long decried the Bed Bath & Beyond coupons as creating customers who won’t buy without the discount, which is probably fair, but I don’t think it’s the real (or at least *only*) reason for their lowered performance.  Yes, I keep a bale of their coupons handy in all our cars so we’re never caught out, but I’ve found them to be not as reliable as I need.  So many times over the past year or more I’ve searched their website for things I need (a specific baking pan, a specific organizing item, etc) and been told that they are available in my local store and for a certain price, only to get there and have them NOT in store, or not at the price shown on the website.  And to make matters worse, when you step into the store, the search that was up on my phone gets hijacked and changes - something that Best Buy got into trouble with years ago, if you recall.  (Actually, I think theirs was just their in-store website was rigged to not show the low price that people were seeing on their home computers—before the pervasiveness of smartphones.)  I’ve also experienced frustration from inaccurate descriptions—driving to the store to pick up a specific size of cake pan, only to discover that it isn’t the size claimed online.  Admittedly, that isn’t unique to BB&B.