What an excellent question. And after pondering this I realized that all human beings have the same need and aspiration out of their vocation. In addition to making an income to live, everyone likes to enjoy what they are doing, getting a sense of satisfaction from their work, and feeling they are growing as a person. This equally applies to someone making minimum wage in what may be considered “under-appreciated” work compared to those college educated professionals making six-figure salaries.
YES! We need to stop right there. No person should ever look down at another human being and consider someone else’s job or vocation as “menial” or “less than.” We should treat the highly specialized surgeon who may be operating on us and the person giving us our meal at a fast food restaurant with the same respect. We should equally respect a health care aide making about minimum wage, often working alone in a client’s home taking on physical and emotional challenges, as much as the CEO of a large company grappling with global commerce.
Think about this – how many of us routinely interact with corporate CEOs? Very few. We all interact with people making minimum wage several times per day. Isn’t it pleasant when these people serve us with a smile because they sincerely enjoy what they are doing and want to deliver an excellent client experience?
Here are three important points to consider for providing skills and career development and fulfillment programs for those lower wage employees:
1) More often than not, your lower wage employees are the ones in client-facing roles. An energized satisfied employee can provide excellent service to your clients so they keep returning, whereas an unhappy employee will turn clients and customers away.
2) The cost of recruiting, replacing, onboarding and training replacements for departing experienced employees can often be up to one full year of salary. Constant employee churn is very costly and can indeed impact your bottom line. For example, in home care, consultant Anne-Lise Gere estimates it to cost at least $2,500 when a caregiver leaves within 3 months, and this does not take into account the potential churn in clients dissatisfied with losing their caregiver.
3) Some of your entry level and lower wage employees have ambition and the ability to progress into management and leadership roles. Do not discount them. When doing my career development projects for my clients, I often profile mid-level managers and even senior leaders who got their start in the company in minimum wage jobs.
Indeed there is a value proposition and strong business case for engaging all employees in skills building and career development activities.
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Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer offers consulting services in diversity and career development, including its innovative “Total Engagement Career Mapping” offering for engaging employees in meaningful company-tailored career planning.
I thank Anne-Lise Gere of Gere Consulting Associates for her valuable input and insights for this blog.