Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a story about how a bad boss turns good. Scrooge is a small business owner who abuses and insult his employee, Bob Cratchit. He only cares about money. After being visited by the Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future, Scrooge is a changed man who “keeps Christmas in his heart” every day. At the end of the story, the bad boss becomes a best friend, giving Cratchit a raise and treating his boy Tiny Tim as his own son.
Stories in the real world don’t normally have such a happy ending. Bad bosses stay bad, and companies that put money before people lay people off days before Christmas. A few weeks ago I saw a client who had worked for the same company for 30 years. He was laid off because his salary was too high. Another client who worked for the same company for 20 years was laid off so a member of the owner’s family could take his place. So much for loyalty. Over 6,000 employees at Dominick’s stores in Chicago are being laid off a few days after Christmas, so a Wall Street investment firm can pump up the value of the store’s parent company, Safeway.
Most companies and bosses won’t change as Scrooge did. They don’t care about the time of the year or the hardship of employees who are losing jobs. All that matters is the bottom line. Dickens imagines Scrooge as a man who has a conscience and is capable of change. Sadly, too many large investors and corporate leaders in our time have not been visited by the Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future. They have no feeling for others and think only about what they can gain. Scrooge would pity them.