I stopped yesterday for a milkshake. Milkshakes are a weakness for me. Actually, ice cream of any kind is a weakness for me, but yesterday was a milkshake day. I looked and saw 3 employees in the restaurant. I think that was all. They were all taking turns taking orders, running the drive-thru, running the kitchen, taking money, delivering food, etc. THREE people. Well, 3 people plus the sign that said, “Please be patient with us as we are having a hard time keeping a full staff. We apologize for the wait, but please be kind to the people who did come to work today.”
It’s not an isolated incident. Everyone is struggling to find enough people, and when they do, there is a struggle to keep them working. I don’t know all the reasons why, but I do know one major one. That is the additional unemployment payments.
Unemployment was designed to be a stop gap. It is insurance to help you if you get laid off, and it supplies partial payment until you can get another job. In Kansas the unemployment maximum you can get per week is $488, plus the government also puts in another $300 per week. This means that a person can receive $788 a week on unemployment. If a husband and wife are unemployed, it goes up to $1576 a week. If you translate this to a per hour rate, that means that a person makes approximately $19.70 per hour if they were to have worked a 40 hour week.
Now, that brings us to an interesting situation. If you have an employee who is making $18 an hour, they could make almost the same, or maybe even a bit more by not working. And, even if you have someone who is making, say $25 an hour, keep in mind they could make almost $20 an hour not working, so the actual value of working is $5 an hour.
Don’t think you folks haven’t thought of this. They know, and they are dedicated enough to you, or have a high enough ethical standard that they keep coming in to work every day!!! That is HUGE. These folks, more than ever, are what is keeping your company running. And, when things get back to normal, they will be the one to thank for you still being in business.
Plus, to make things even more complicated, businesses are paying top dollar right now. Your employees can probably leave and find a higher paying job tomorrow. But they still come in to work for you every day.
So, my encouragement is say “Thank You” and say it often. A handwritten note from the CEO, lunch for your staff, a gift card to a restaurant, an extra day off to be used later in the year, a donation in their name to a charity they are passionate about, a small gift, a relaxation of the rules for a day, publicly praising the employees who come to work every day, an investment made in their name, a contribution to their kids college fund. There are dozens of ways that you can say thank you. But, if you will notice I didn’t say increase their pay. If you need to do that, great, do it! Keep their pay competitive, but that isn’t what will let the folks who are keeping your company running how much you appreciate them. If you want to really go above and beyond and say thank you, find a sacrificial way to do it. You will let the people who are serving you the best know how much you appreciate them. Trust me,