Zeynep Ton, an adjunct professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, argues in The Good Jobs Strategy that well-paid employees + good operations is the winning strategy for better performance for all stakeholders–employees, customers, and shareholders. My favorite part is when she explains why retailers that skimp on labor costs can’t keep track of their inventory even when they have scanning and tracking systems in place.
But it’s the connection Ton makes between worker satisfaction and economic performance that is really striking. Just as the retailers and manufacturers she discusses get trapped in a vicious downward spiral of poor performance leading to cuts in labor costs leading to even worse performance, our society as a whole treats citizens as expenses to be minimized, as if, to paraphrase Ton, they had a fixed value, rather than a value that rises with investment. The stories Ton tells about companies that follow the good jobs strategy–QuikTrip, Costo, Mercadona, and Trader Joe’s–should inspire us to promote the economic security of all citizens the way those companies promote the economic security of their workers. It won’t just help the economically insecure–it will make us all better off.
First, I’m going to give a copy of her book to the manager of my local supermarket….