We are no longer taking ANY EXCUSE for calling off. If you're sick, you need to come prove it to us. If your dog died, you need to bring him in and prove it to us. If it's a "family emergency," too bad. Go work somewhere else.
That was part of a written message an Olive Garden manager in Kansas recently delivered to his staff. The message that Olive Garden corporate delivered to that manager — "You're fired."
Too often I'm writing about bad employers, the worst of the worst (see 2022's Worst Employer poll; don't forget to vote). Today, I'm celebrating an employer who did something very correctly. Bravo, Olive Garden! You fixed a management problem before it could fester and grow into something beyond your control.
What type of "beyond your control" thing am I referring to? How about union organizing? Food service employers like Olive Garden are ground zero in the current wave of organizing. Businesses that have a culture that requires an employee to bring in their dead dog before they'll be allowed to take an excused absence have a toxic culture that make them ripe for union organizers to gain a foothold and never leave.
So what are the lessons here:
1.) Be flexible with your employees, within reason. Yes, employers are still experiencing staffing issues, but that's not an excuse to toss all compassion out the window. Emergencies happen, and if it's legitimate an employee deserves compassion, not termination.
2.) When you discover a problem, fix it. Olive Garden did not wait for this manager's awfulness to destroy that restaurant. Use its prompt action as an example. Noxious managers don't improve on their own and I don't want them in my business. They cause way more problems than they could possibly be worth and create way too much risk for the organization.
3.) Culture matters. If you're not employer of choice for employees, you're an employer of opportunity for unions. If you're not the former, you have some work to do.
While I'm on the topic of unions and union organizing, I have a couple of recent podcasts to share with you.
First, I guested on Lunch Conversations with Randy & Teddy, discussing the rise of labor unions. You can watch on YouTube or listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Secondly, Mike VanDervort and I recorded a new episode of Labor Related for DriveThruHR, which is available via the DriveThruHR website or wherever you get your podcasts.