I’ve been blogging every week for the past three years. If you have been on the journey with me from the beginning, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and you know that “the story of Sears” is – and remains – a major thorn in my side. Why? Because it saddens me that organizations are so arrogant they keep their failing doors open, causing misery and grief for their most valuable asset: their employees.
On. Sept. 8, 2016, I wrote a blog called. In it I reported that Sears’ cash and equivalents fell to $276 million from $1.8 billion one year earlier, and since 2007, it closed half of its locations and eliminated 137,000 jobs. The open stores are understaffed, with some operating on less than half of the employees they need. Not only are the stores firing people, but they are also cutting hours for the workers that remain. In some cases, stores are operating with just one cashier and at times no cashier.
I also reported about an internal message board that workers use to communicate with employees at other stores. “Our motto now is ‘you can only do what you can do’,” one employee wrote. “It’s sad to watch what we worked for with pride for so many years to be slain in front of us and then we still have to care for the dead body.” Another employee said, “With new hires only lasting less than a month, experienced employees are quitting for better pay and better working conditions. The worst is that we have a 17-year-old running the office. He has no experience, but he is a warm body to fill the job.”
What has happened since my 2016 blog? Nothing good. Sears is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (shocker) as part of its plan to reorganize its business around a smaller group of profitable stores. Are you kidding me, Sears? My take on this situation has not changed. Your time is up – close your doors and put your remaining workers out of their misery.
WHAT CAN I DO? If you are leading a sinking ship and multiple efforts to return your company to profitability have failed, fly the white flag and admit the truth – you were viable and added value at one point in time, but this is no longer the case. Nothing in this world is meant to last forever. Do your employees, your customers and your shareholders a favor, by putting your ego aside and shutting your doors. Leaving an “Open” sign on the door of a business that has a toxic culture is both selfish and cowardly. Step up and do what’s right by your people.
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who?, and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.