Target is joining Walmart in closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day – a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, some Caribbean islands, and Liberia. Why are they doing this? Not for the reason one would hope, which is to enable employees to spend the holiday with their loved ones vs. work. Instead, the move comes as stores rethink how to manage Black Friday, one of the top two sales days of the year, which also kicks off the busy holiday shopping season.
Needless to say, COVID is turning the holiday shopping model upside down. Shoppers can no longer mob physical stores, so retailers must figure out how to drive online sales and stretch out the timeframe for sales. So, once again, we have another example of employers making a decision that benefits employees but not because it’s the right thing to do, but because they are being forced into it.
In an effort to put employees first, some stores and malls, like Bloomington, Minnesota-based Mall of America, reversed course and have not opened on Thanksgiving in recent years. And others, such as Costco and Nordstrom, have always remained closed on Thanksgiving, noting they want to respect the holiday.
This entire situation begs the question: How do we get employers to make decisions that benefit employees because it’s the right thing to do? Honestly, this is not the easiest issue in the world to crack, as most organizations exist to turn a profit for their shareholders. Therefore, most business decisions seek to increase profitability and customer satisfaction vs. engage employees. But, there’s hope.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? Turn the ‘profits and customer first’ mantra on its head. You cannot increase profitability and customer satisfaction if your employees are miserable and slacking. To excel, you need engaged, motivated employees who stay, and give you discretionary effort. There’s a lot of data (here, here, and here) that supports this, so bring it to your leaders and make the case that you need to start making decisions with employees in mind, as well as profits and customers. When you do this, the money will follow.