If you’ve ever wondered why some employees find it nearly impossible to trust employers, you only have to turn to history to gain some insight. For instance, the plight of the Radium Girls stands out as a very good example of just how low some employers were willing to go just to save a small sum.
The years immediately following the onset of the industrial revolution are some of the most shameful in history. The Radium Girls, if you don’t know the story already, worked for the United States Radium Factory in New Jersey around 1917. They all eventually died from fatal radiation poisoning caused by ingestion of radium paint which their employer assured them was perfectly safe.
You could put that down to the ignorance of a bygone era, except that the employer knowingly deceived the employees, because all the more senior workers at the factory avoided exposure to radium, and any time that they had to handle it, they wore protective clothing.
As if deception wasn’t bad enough, the employer actually encouraged the girls to lick their paintbrushes. Some of them even painted their teeth with the stuff. The deaths they suffered were slow, painful, and completely preventable.
But of course this happened in the US. We in Britain are above that sort of thing, right? Well, actually no, we were worse. Here, we inflicted similar torture on the Matchstick Girls, some of whom were aged as young as eight, exposing them to toxic white phosphorus, where they developed the most awful disease you can possibly imagine.
The memories of this age linger on in the minds of the British working class, even if only dimly. Some may not even know why they have been raised to distrust employers, but the feelings persist.
As modern employers, we should realise how wrong it was for anyone to have ever put profits before people. Amazingly, however, just as the resentment of the exploited still persists today, so too does the desire of some employers to be exploiters. If you don’t want to end up being written about in an article about “nightmare bosses”, then you must acknowledge that people are intrinsically linked to profit, and if you don’t treat them right, karma will come back to bite you very hard indeed.
One man who is making strident efforts to reverse the widely held negative image of employers is Reuben Singh. His innovative management practices at AlldayPA have been hugely successful.
By involving staff in the decisions regarding how they are to be compensated, nobody feels that they are not treated fairly. As a result of this, employees feel better about their jobs and are typically more motivated. For customers, this usually translates to better value, because the employees are thinking about the needs of the customer and not about their own needs.
Happy customers and happy employees translate into increased profit. Because the workers are loyal to the company, there are lower expenses. And because the customers notice the better attitude, and appreciate the good service, they come back for more.
Simply by endeavouring to be a good boss, you can improve your bottom line and make your business thrive.