4 Reasons Why You Should Never Force Holiday Work For Employees

My jaw dropped, and not because there was more turkey and pie. I was watching football with my family after enjoying a delicious turkey dinner, and the news came on with a horrible holiday story—that stores would start opening at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to kick off the seasonal shopping madness. I couldn’t believe it. Not that people would go shopping (that’s their choice). I couldn’t believe that employees were required to work on Thanksgiving. Enough is enough. I support businesses and their right to earn a living, but I don’t support their decision to do so by making employees work on Thanksgiving.

I am pissed and disappointed in the shortsighted, make money now mentality that the business owners and managers behind the scenes have. I’m not picking on any particular business, but did you ever wonder why one of the popular big box stores have a turnover of half of their entire staff every year? What do you think that’s costing them?

So, in the holiday spirit of promoting goodness, I’m going to tell you why forcing your employees to work on holidays and to come in midnight the day after a holiday, or prep on a holiday for next day shopping is really, really bad for your business:

1. You get your employee’s family involved – when an employee works the holiday for you, they don’t just suffer being away from family, family suffers from being away from them. What happens when they get home? Their family tells them how evil your business is for taking them away from family time. Now you have a family that hates you and who will undermine your employee’s job there. They will remind the employee every day your employee goes to work that you are a scrooge.
2. Power of reciprocity – we get what we give. Maybe you’ve heard it as, “What goes around comes around,” or “Payback is a bitch.” Yeah there’s karma, reciprocity and payback, yet many don’t realize they all work both ways. If you take care of your people, they will take care of you. If you squeeze every ounce of juice out of them… they will do the same to you. The rule to follow is for you to do the dirtiest worst work yourself… and if you don’t like it, they won’t either.
3. Negative association for your business – When you have employees working holidays, they are sure to miss out on major family moments. The cool gift, or the funny moment with drunk Uncle Al, their own child taking his/her first steps, or opening their first present. Whatever it is, the stories and photos about the event will live on and be shared… and the employee who was working for you won’t be part of it. They will associate working for you, with missing out on life. And when it comes time to be there for you, they won’t be. Not good.
4. Passive aggressive payback—employees will keep their low-paying, crap jobs even if you continue to treat them poorly. But they’ll find other ways to ding your bottom line. They take longer breaks, or spend more time complaining about you to co-workers rather than working. They’ll develop the, “It’s not my job,” attitude and ignore customers. They’ll feel and act resentful towards customers. They engage in work slowdowns at the checkout, stocking and service lines. They’ll nibble away at your bottom line until your business collapses into a huge sinkhole of negativity. Your “lean and mean” treatment of the people who represent your bread and butter, your life, your business determines whether those employees are going to be patting you on the back, or sticking the proverbial knife in it.

I know you don’t want to miss out on those holiday sales, so do something different. Give your employees the time off for the holidays. Close down for Thanksgiving and the day after and let your employees come back rested and refreshed for the holiday madness. Host a “Post Black Friday Sale.” Pay them for the time off. I know, I know you’re trying to make money, not spend it, but you want this to be a genuine time to reward your employees.

By doing this you’re telling your customers you value your employees, and by default you value them as well. It may take a year or two to catch on, but chances are you’re going to be rewarded more for doing the right thing. Studies show that most people do their holiday shopping at the last minute anyway. You may lose one big sale day, but you’ll gain so much more in employee and customer attitude, gratitude and loyalty.

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