Stop and Shop Needs to Nurture Its People To Remain Competitive
On the picket lines, come rain or shine; the Stop & Shop workers weren’t backing down, and late Sunday night they won their fight. Eleven days ago, Stop & Shop employees in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, downed tools and put their rights ahead of the money in their pockets.
Stop & Shop is staffed by unionized workers, meaning they have unions protecting their wages and benefits. If the workers feel they are being given an unfair deal, the unions will support their fight for improvements. If the brand doesn’t agree with the requests from workers, the workers are entitled to strike for no pay but retain their jobs.
I approached the workers last week to ask why they were fighting. I was handed this:
With all of these proposed cuts and changes, you might think the company is struggling, but “the Dutch food retail giant reported $2 billion in profits last year, and recently voted to give shareholders $880 million in dividend payments later this month.” Boston.com
Unsurprisingly, the plans angered employees.
The retail market, like most industries in today’s world, is changing. Privately held competitors are making technological changes to stay current, and Stop and Shop is struggling to keep up.
Job and benefits cuts do not go down well, even when companies explain they’re in trouble and need help. When a company is doing well, changes of this magnitude can seem like a slap in the face.
As Stop & Shop leaders now agree, people deserve to receive the benefits they were promised when joining the company. They deserve a fair wage, they deserve access to good quality healthcare – both for themselves and their families – and they deserve the pensions they were promised.
Now that the two sides have agreed to a deal, Stop & Shop leaders seem happy, but we are yet to hear if all the workers are comfortable with the agreement. If there are still going to be job losses or some people are going to return to work with fewer benefits than before, Stop & Shop will experience significant reductions in worker efforts. It’s now more than ever that they need to nurture the people they have, or they will soon be suffering with:
To engage employees, on top of their humane package of wages, vacation, and healthcare coverage, workers need to feel their efforts are valued. They need to continue to feel they have a voice in Stop & Shop’s growth. They need a sense of autonomy in their work and pride in their brand. Engaging employees doesn’t need to be focused on financial rewards, but employees must have a fair standard wage and benefits as a baseline. Factors such as the following can help to continually engage employees in their work:
To fight for your rights you need energy, grit, passion, and determination, and these people have that in spades. Unfortunately, instead of putting these qualities into their work and helping the company to come up with new ways to save money, innovate their brand, and improve their services and products, they had to use that energy for their rights and their futures.
One of Stop & Shop’s trademarks is the friendliness and helpfulness of the people it hires. Not only that, but it is also a significant employer of workers with disabilities. Their people are critical to the Stop & Shop brand, and are the real assets they should be cultivating.
To continue to be successful, Stop & Shop needs to make more of what makes it unique, different and special. It needs to make more of its people.
Could Stop & Shop be the grocery store that offers a more personal service in an ever-increasing technological world?
Change is inevitable, but changes must be made carefully, and with respect for the people who helped them get to where they are today. For Stop & Shop to continue to be a profitable brand, they need to embrace their employees and encourage them to help navigate the journey, not keep them in the back seat.