My work involves a lot of direct interaction with employees. Successfully implementing schedule changes without employee involvement is like trying to make ice cream without the cream. With employee involvement has come some interesting meetings with employees. Early in my consulting career, I was taken by surprise when an employee stood up in the middle of one of my meetings and asked, “How much are you being paid?”
Changing schedules is a very emotional issue for many employees. People build their lives around their work schedules – everything from childcare to parental custody and family gatherings. I have found that people will sacrifice their health and safety (i.e., deprive themselves of sleep) in order to meet social obligations despite knowing they have a scheduled night shift or an early start the next day. Changing someone’s shift start time by as little as 30 minutes could be enough to send an employee into an emotional rant.
So, “How much are you being paid?”
There are a number of reasons that I am hired to evaluate and change schedules in a facility. There are some facilities that have traditionally run Monday through Friday that suddenly find themselves working most Saturdays and Sundays. I recently worked with a facility where employees worked as many as 21 to 40 days in a row without a day off. Some facilities are losing so much money that they are in danger of being closed. Still, others have such poor employee morale that they consistently miss production goals. Sometimes companies are spending so much money recruiting and training only to see employees leave that they want fresh new schedules to offer a benefit that other employers in the area may not be able to offer – better time off. Generally, the bottom line is that the bottom line matters to every one of my clients and I don’t take on a client unless I know they will experience a significant financial gain (whether they take my advice in order to realize that financial gain is a subject left for another post).
“How much are you being paid?”
The union president at a large tire manufacturer I helped a few years ago put his arm around me and introduced me as the guy who helped save 500 jobs in his facility. It was a moment I will never forget and happened at a point in my career when I thought I had enough with travel and consulting. Since then, there have been countless times people I impacted have come up and said, “Because of your schedules, I get to enjoy my grandchildren more.” (Or something along those lines) When managers tell me, we have been able to produce more consistently because of the new schedules, and now we can get more business, I know someone else gets to have a job.
“HOW MUCH ARE YOU BEING PAID?”
Does it really matter? Do you think the 500 employees (and their families) whose jobs were saved care? I won’t discuss how much I get paid, but I do admit my clients pay a lot of money for my services. If they are paying attention, however, they usually start seeing a return on their investment within six weeks of starting. A typical project pays for itself in six to nine months. Sometimes, when I’m feeling cheeky, and the crowd is on my side, I do answer the question by saying we can all get together and throw one heck of a party with the money the company will no longer be wasting.