Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the biggest day for retailers throughout the U.S. Some companies have even opened their doors on Thanksgiving to get an advantage over competitors. Who loses? Workers who often have to leave family meals and then have to work on days when their neighbors are getting the best deals.
REI, a co-op retailer for outdoor wear, is taking a very different approach. The company has decided to close on Black Friday and give its employees a paid day off. Rather than fight frenzied consumers at the mall, REI suggests that its employees should enjoy a day in the outdoors. REI is putting its people first, and it should be cheered for doing so.
A client told me an interesting story today. Her company reorganized departments, and she got a new boss who decided to put a manager over my client who had no experience in her field and limited skills. He was taking care of a friend who lost a job. My client did something that was brave. She went to HR and protested. HR set up a meeting between her and her new boss’s boss. She stated her case clearly and professionally, no threats or accusations. Her boss notified her in writing that the new employee would not be her supervisor. She took a chance and won.
This is a good story, but a rare one. Most companies don’t give employees an opportunity to protest unfair practices. In many companies, HR is seen as a means for the employer to control employees, not to listen to them. Not all companies follow this model. My client and her company are doing the right thing, treating each other with respect and listening to grievances. May more companies follow this model of mature employee relations.