In today’s episode, we look at LinkedIn’s report on where frontline workers have gone – and perhaps some of the reasons why.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.
In today’s episode of Mind Readings, let’s talk about civil society and the great residents action. LinkedIn, published in their Economic Graph News recently, a study on what happened to all the frontline workers. So these are folks who worked in hospitality and retail restaurants, et cetera.
This customer facing positions. Right. And obviously, there has been a lot of churn in those industries, people leaving for other opportunities. So the question is, where did they go? Well, LinkedIn understandably has that. And let’s look at the information here. We see number one, growth from front line workers moving to other positions, real estate, 15.2% in two years.
Construction and number two, tech and media. Number three, transportation, logistics. Number four, ranching, farming and forestry number five. Now, give some thought to this. People who worked in things like food service, like the takeout line, like being a Starbucks, going to something like farming, ranching and forestry and talk about a completely different working environment. Well, why did this happen?
Why did these people go to these places It’s not hard to figure out why. When we look at the way people and I can only speak for the things that I’ve seen in the country that I live in, which is the U.S. just some incredibly bad behavior by customers, people behaving like toddlers, honestly, but with all of the destructive capability of an adult.
Right. Breaking stuff, screaming, getting into fistfights with other customers and employees, shooting people There’s been no shortage of really bad behavior on the part of customers. And it’s no surprise if you worked in one of those positions, you’re like, you know what? This is not what I want to do with my life. Dealing with a spoiled brat, adult and all of their issues So why did this happen?
Well, think about what the pandemic did. The pandemic, particularly in the first six months, shut down everything And we essentially hit the pause button. And in many nations, pandemic assistance brought supplemental income to people both at the national level in many nations and here in the USA at the state and national levels. Depending on the state you lived in, what did that allow people to do?
It allowed them to take a step back, to look at their lives and say, am I happy making $12 an hour serving coffee to people who yell at me that I put almond milk and soy milk in their latte? And for a lot of folks, like, yeah, you know, this is not what I want to do with my life.
And the reason for that is that pay is out of alignment with the work being asked And this is a really important concept We get paid to do work and paying people more, which is important. Paying people more is also means paying them proportional to the work that you’re being asked to do. So if you’re being asked to make coffee, that’s worth a certain amount of money.
But if you’re also being asked to handle unruly customers to traffic control, to de-escalate violent confrontations, that’s a separate job, right? That’s a totally separate line of work. And in a lot of cases for your average retail employee, they are wholly unqualified to be doing that kind of work. Right. They should not be an on the spot therapist.
They should not be an on the spot police officer. That’s not their job. Their job is to check out people’s groceries and stuff like that. And so this rash of uncivil behavior essentially dramatically increased the workload and tasks of frontline workers without a commensurate increase in pay. And even now, as companies are trying to, you know, recruit people, they’re running into shortages.
They’re running into a lot of talent shortages because a bunch of people have decided they would rather go out and manage a forest than deal with a customer. And to be honest, as a misanthrope and an introvert, I totally get that. Construction, transportation, logistics, farming. These are not traditionally strong customer facing positions the way that retailers So how do we get people back into their frontline positions?
You may not be able to because the underlying issue is that the work that those positions are being asked to do that is effectively in the job description is not what you’re paying people for. Right. You would need to supplement that in order to win those people back. So, for example, suppose you have a line of cashiers. You also need to have a security guard with a big red button at every cashier station saying, Hey, I got an unruly customer here.
Please come get, you know, take care of them.
And you’ve essentially paid for offloading that very critical, very important, very dangerous task from someone who’s unqualified do it to someone that is qualified to do with having a security guard to deal with that That’s how you win those employees back over the long term. One of the great, I think, dis services that we have done to ourselves and our employees is wholeheartedly embracing the term.
The customer is always right. No, no, they’re not. And an awful lot of the time, the customer’s really wrong. Right. When a customer leaves a water bottle filled with their urine on a shelf, that customer’s not right. The customer doesn’t need to be in the store. Right. And yet these sorts of things happen all the time. So how do you solve for that?
Well, I don’t know that you can. I don’t know that you can change customer behavior except to draw the line in the sand with extra security guards, for example, to say, you know what? There’s some behaviors that are simply unacceptable. And if you want to shop here or dying here or get coffee here, you have to go back to living the social contract that we all agree on that says you’re not going to be a jerk to other people.
One of the strongest things a company can do is an adopt a no jerks policy and not just for the employees, but for the customers as well to say, you know what? If a customer acts like a jerk, we are going to reject that customer’s dollars. We’re going to say, you may not do business here because as companies are finding out, replacing employees is really expensive and really painful.
You lose a lot of institutional knowledge. You lose a lot of culture. And it’s a long process to get a new employee. So if you adopt a stringent no jerks policy across the board management line workers, customers, vendors, partners, you say to everyone this is going to be a better place to do business. Right. For those customers who are not jerks, they’re going to feel better shopping in your stores or getting coffee right.
Because they’re not going to have to cringe and endure a hostile environment when a customer another customer’s behaving badly. When you stand up for your employees, they will stand up for you, right? They will. You know, the old expression, you take care of your employees and your employees will take care of their customers. And not a lot of companies do that.
So is the customer always right? No. What I might rephrase that is the the best customers are right. Right. The jerks are not right. The jerks can go take a long walk off a short pier. And what will remain to be seen is how many companies have the practicality and the intestinal fortitude to make that change, to say, yes, we are adopting a no jerks policy and we are willing to turn away dollars.
We’re willing to turn away business from people that we don’t want to do business with. And in time, that may affect customer behavior at large. Right. Because if you are blacklisted at three of the four retail stores for groceries in your area and you’re not allowed to shop there anymore, it might dawn on you that maybe you’re the problems, right?
Maybe you’re not the person the company wants to do business with. And maybe you’ll change your behavior. Now, I’m not saying that you are this person, but I’m saying in general. So we lost a lot of people to other professions, and that’s OK because those professions need people, too. But if we want to have a functioning frontline economy, we need to have the rules of common decency bolstered for a little while until people are reminded that, yeah, you can’t be a jerk and still get what you want.
I mean, you can be a jerk, but there are consequences for being a jerk. So that’s what’s on my mind today. Hopefully your company, your organization, wherever it is, you are already has a no jerks policy. And if they don’t, please feel free to share this video with them and say, hey, let’s adopt a no jerks policy, because that will make life better for everyone, for customers, for vendors, partners, and especially employees.
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