A few thoughts on employee care

We’ve been closed this week while we do some deep cleaning and construction, and today I sanded doors, installed a ceiling, and swept everything in sight multiple times.

The ceiling was not so fun. Tipping perilously on ladders, we held up lengths of hemp and raffia material and stapled them to the acoustic tile with a staple gun. (A serious staple gun, attached to an air compressor.) We got stinky, and dirty, and covered in particles of yuck. But the ceiling does look amazing, to be fair. We were very pleased with our work, although it took us hours. Luckily we escaped having to install the flooring, because I loathe installing floors.

We also caulked, oh, how we caulked. The caulk jokes were flying, especially after a couple of beers. There was sloppy caulk and black caulk and big caulk and…oh, yes. And we sanded and painted and installed fans and…oh, god, the list is endless. It was an action packed week, I tell you what.

The thing about it was this—I enjoy making things with my hands, and I like working. Those of us who were there in addition to the owners were there because we volunteered to be there and worked during the closure—everyone else went on vacation. So we were a fun team. We were probably a little lazier than we were normally, and certainly more relaxed. We were out of uniform, piercings and tattoos were showing, and we were having a grand old time. The bosses also took us out to lunch every day, which wonderful, and above and beyond the call of duty. It’s amazing how much difference a small thing can make to your employees.

Here we were, volunteering to get covered in spackle and paint, to get dirty and rip the knees of our jeans out on the floors, and every day at noon we closed up shop and trouped off for a leisurely lunch—burritos at the Headlands, what have you. It was a lovely gesture of appreciation, I tell you that, and I think we were better workers for it.

This is what distinguishes my employers, and other rare wonderful local employers like Nicholas and Jaimi, from other lesser businesses. They care about their employees, and make no bones of it. We are a family. A family with a clear hierarchy, to be certain, but a family. I am confident that if I needed someone to cosign a loan, offer a car to use if I needed to drive to the city, or some other urgent thing, that my bosses would step up. They select their employees with care and they work hard to make us a team, and they really do take care of us. In return, they get employee loyalty. We would never dream of stealing from them, because it would be like stealing from ourselves. We always take extra shifts if it’s needed, and we work extra hard to keep their business beautiful and the customers happy. You can tell when you enter an establishment whether or not the employees are well cared for, and it makes a huge difference.

If people wonder why they have high turnover and bitter employees, maybe they should ask themselves how well they take care of their employees. Perhaps they should take a lesson from a well run and happy workplace, and try making small gestures that make a big difference—it doesn’t take much, people, and it’s oh so worth it.

[employee care]