The Cost of Doing Business

There is a grave misconception in this country┬áthat the purpose of a business is to make money. In truth, the purpose of a business is to create a product or service that people want…or better yet need.

In actuality, profit is a by-product of good business. If a company makes a good product, that company will inevitably make money because people will buy that product. Sweeten the deal by adding awesome customer service and technical assistance, and it is likely that many of those customers will become loyal, repeat customers.

There are several aspects of good business that tend to be overlooked by our society’s faulty business model. To begin with, quality is often sacrificed to save money. Granted, cost does become a factor when consumers shop for products, but most people look for the highest quality products that fit well into their budget. Sacrificing product quality while continuing to raise pricing means that eventually average people will no longer be able to afford base products that have little or no value at all.

Another area that companies like to cut costs is employee wages. To me, that seems like the companies are just shooting themselves in the foot. Most companies create general consumer products and services meant for people just like their employees. Now, by ensuring that their employees don’t have the money to buy their products, and show them off to their friends (who, by the way, had their wages cut by similar companies) aren’t these guys just making sure that no one is able to buy their products? That, simply, makes no sense to me.

Employee relations is an area where most US businesses fail miserably. What puzzles me here is that employee satisfaction has been shown time and time again to improve productivity and overall sales–dramatically. When people are happy with their jobs and their employers, they show confidence, loyalty, the willingness to work more and to work harder for the company–they have a genuine desire to see the company succeed. On the flip side of that, when people are unhappy in their jobs, they are more likely to take more time off of work–both paid and unpaid, they are less likely to care about the quality of the products/services they are producing, and they are more likely to harbor animosity toward their employer.

What do employees tend to complain about? Well there are a lot of things, but let’s take a look at a few of the chief issues.

Overworked

The average full-time worker now days puts in 50+ hours per week. The sad part about that is the fact that in many places in the US, that doesn’t pay the bills. In the 1950s, people worked an average of 40 hours per week, and could sustain an entire family off of the income from that one job. Now it takes two incomes, often both of them working full-time (or more) to ensure that the bills get paid. I think people are more than justified for claiming that they are overworked.

Never Any Time to Rest

This goes hand-in-hand with being overworked. While working 10 and 12 hours days, and having employers expect miracles from them, employers also think that people can rest, recharge, and be ready to go again with a mere ten minute break. Ten minutes barely gives a person enough time to catch their breath, or go to the restroom. It’s unlikely that there’s enough time to do both in ten little minutes. Another big trend I’ve seen is 30 minute lunches. No wonder so many people have gastro-intestinal issues. I mean, really? Thirty minutes to shove down a plate of food, get severe heartburn, then hate life for the rest of your shift!?

Scheduling

This is one of the main issues I see. Companies expect their employees to be “flexible” with their schedules, which basically means that you have to come in whenever they want you to. If you need time off–forget it. If you want specific days or hours–not going to happen. If you need to change your current schedule due to something changing in your life–don’t even try.

There are many other things that can cause friction or issues between an employee and employer, but these are at the top of my list.

What most of these companies miss is that good relationships with their employees is what saves them money and brings in new money. By ensuring that their employees are satisfied, the employees are more likely to gain loyalty to the company. That means they will stay longer, ensuring that the time, effort, and money put into to training them was not wasted. Along with that loyalty and satisfaction comes a desire to see the company succeed, raising the quality of the product/service the employee produces. With that desire to see the company succeed comes a desire to be at work, on time, every day, which means the employee is less likely to take sick days. Once the company raises the employee’s wage enough to buy the company’s product–advertising it to his/her friends, the company can gain even more business through the loyalty of a satisfied employee.

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