- 51% expect a raise in base salary
- 27% expect more employees to be hired
- 23% expect benefits and perks to be restored
- 22% expect a bonus
- 21% expect to find a new job somewhere else
In addition to these measurable rewards, employees have expectations about how their workplace environment will recover in recovery. Gallup says 50% of employees are not "completely satisfied" with the level of recognition they're receiving at work, even while they're working harder and getting paid less. And Robert Half Management says 27% of CFOs think the greatest lesson they're learned during the recession was the need for maintaining employee morale. This is a pretty significant lesson especially coming from the Chief Number Crunchers.
Most retail managers will reluctantly admit that some day they know they're going to have to start paying attention to the people part of their business again. Many are not eager for that day to come, though, because people are messy. It's so much easier to focus on things that are predictable and controllable.
I was in my neighborhood no-frills grocery store this weekend and while I was looking for an edible onion, I heard an announcement over the store's P.A. system that went something like this...
(Cheerful nondescript elevator music introduction...) Employees... While you're walking around our store, make sure to look for items that need to be put in their proper place. Our customers depend on us to create a store that is neat and well-stocked. Your effort to create a store experience that is pleasing to our customers is essential. Thank you. (Cheerful non-descript elevator music ending.)
It took me a second to realize what I had just heard. The public address system had just been turned into the public employee motivation system? Were they kidding?
Looking around, it seemed none of the shoppers had noticed or cared about the piped-in managerial instructions. I looked around further and saw only two employees and one prominently positioned security guard in the store, none of whom seemed to be particularly managerial. I realized that it was possible that in lieu of store management, the employees were being watched by a security guard and coached by recorded announcements.
While this seems like an extreme and unsustainable staffing model, it was not that much different from what I had observed in Cracker Barrel. The greatest casualty of the Great Recession might just be retail management. I'm not talking about retail managers as a line item on a payroll spreadsheet per se, but rather retail management as a concept.
The idea that employees need nothing more than a paycheck and some basic benefits to motivate them recesses the management profession back about five decades. While employees are willing to take a few giant steps backwards for a while, they're not going to stay in that workplace time warp forever and they're also not going to ask "Mother may I?" before they move themselves forward again.
Employers will probably have no trouble finding employees for a few more years, but at some point, the stack of resumes is going to get smaller and the applicants aren't going to be overqualified and willing to be underpaid any more. And by that time it will be too late for companies to adjust their managerial practices because all the best employees will have gravitated to the best workplaces with the best management.
The best retail employers have already been big winners during the recession. The question is which retail employers will stay ahead of the unemployment recovery curve well enough to be the big winners in recovery?