Thinking I do with words - Employees deserve respect in a crisis

It wasn’t a surprise to me that City Council held a special meeting to accept a modified tender for the City Operations Centre. It was a project that needed to happen, and last second sniping about the total budget and scope wasn’t going to make the current facility any less condemned.

But building the project isn’t going to repair the damage that rejecting it the first time caused.

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Because this is about more than a building. It’s just as much about having some respect for employees that work there. As any organization, whether you are a government, business, or non-profit, you need to show your employees respect. That entails giving them the impression that their time and effort is valuable, that they deserve a safe and functional place to work, and that you appreciate what they’re doing for you. That respect is hard to gain, and easy to lose.

Job hunts start because employees feel there is a lack of respect. Productivity halts because employees feel there is a lack of respect - why would someone work hard if their effort isn’t going to be appreciated or valued? Businesses have died due to a lack of respect for their employees.

Take Deadspin, G/O Media’s website focused on sports without a wide range of content. While management is attempting to salvage the mess they made, that site died because the entire editorial department walked out over a lack of respect shown by that management. That’s an extreme example to illustrate what can happen if employees feel as though their work isn’t being respected.

At the end of the day, it’s the employees that keep things running, it’s the employees who make money if it’s a for-profit business, and it’s employees that bear the brunt of these decisions. If they start to get the feeling that their lives and livelihoods weren’t considered in the process, it’s going to be extremely damaging for employee morale. People might leave, they might be hard to replace, as friends in the same field tell them how awful it is to work there, the employees that remain might find themselves less willing to go above and beyond for the organization. And it’s going to be management that is to blame.

There’s going to be a very long road back to gain the respect lost last week, and it might even be impossible for the people in charge to do it with some employees. Even reversing a bad decision that shows a flagrant lack of respect for employees doesn’t change the fact that the decision happened in the first place. While someone can respect the need to save money, especially in a crisis that we’re currently facing, behavior in a crisis tells you a lot. The City of Yorkton is not the only organization that has fallen flat on its face when it comes to respecting their employees right now, and beyond repairing the economy in general, post COVID-19, we’re going to see a lot of companies brought down not because of the crisis itself, but because they took advantage of a lack of mobility during it and employees won’t be willing or able to forgive and forget.

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