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The Good Jobs Strategy: Lessons from Retailers

by Stefan Lindegaard
January 23, 20141/23/14 1 Comment

Sometimes you get surprised on how some executives run their companies. Zeynep Ton wrote something that caught my attention on this:

“These companies think about employees not as costs to minimize but as capable human beings with the potential to generate sales and profits.”

If you ask me this should be common sense, but as Ton indicates in this blog post this is not always the case. Too often, employees are seen as costs rather than valuable assets and then you try to bring down wages to the lowest possible rate.

This is especially true among retailers, which is the main focus area of Ton’s upcoming book, The Good Jobs Strategy. But I think her points are worth considering in all industries so that we do not forget that people is a key element in building great companies. Of course, we all already know this is true when it comes to innovation, right? Oh, not all of you? : – )

Ton shares examples on companies that have taken a different approach to their employees. Ton argues that these companies design and manage work in a way that makes their employees more productive and takes full advantage of a committed, motivated, and capable (that is, well-paid, well-trained, and well-treated) workforce.

She also offers the nuts and bolts of how they make this work through four operational choices:

• They reduce costs and simplify work by offering fewer products and services.
• They combine standardization with empowerment, each in its most useful place.
• They cross-train employees so that they are always busy and so that they are all well equipped to assist customers.
• They deliberately overstaff so that employees have enough time to do their jobs well and to contribute to continual improvement.

Check out the above links. You might find some inspiration here even though you do not work in the retail industry.

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Tim Boone says:

    A major bank who was a client a few years back had a major problem. $4B in excess liquidity and the highest loan asset quality in banking. They didn't discard the excess cash….they put 50 officers and a small army of consultants to work on it, these people went to the troops and found out their was a major customer service problem..it got fixed!!

    So if you have unproductive human assets, it seems managements smart and moral solution is to put those assets to work determining new ways to grow the business….. If you really think people are assets and not liabilities….. why would you let all that intellectual capital walk out…..?? Perhaps its just easier to be focused on financials that it is to lead the people??? What does that say about our business schools and corporate ethos??