Employees Want to Speak Up and Add Value. Are You Listening?
First Sears, now Subway. The world’s largest restaurant chain is in serious trouble as consumers seek healthier, fresher food and as competitors offer better options. Additionally, franchisees are protesting the Corporate-directed promotions, complaining about product quality, and struggling with over-saturation.
Subway had 25,835 shops in the U.S. in 2017, compared with 26,744 at the end of 2016. And 2018 could just be the tip of the iceberg for store closures. Franchisees estimate that up to one-third of Subway locations are unprofitable, as traffic has fallen 25% over the past five years.
The most telling sign that Subway is in trouble comes from a quote I read in Business Insider by a franchise consultant. Joel Libava, says, “The brand is tired and the employees even look tired.” In my opinion, this is a surefire sign that employees are disengaged, which will not help Subway’s turnaround efforts.
Business Insider also reported that years ago, stores ordered local produce daily, but Corporate forced them to stop doing that, moving to a once-a-week produce delivery. “By the end of the week, the lettuce is a massive problem,” saidone store owner. “I can’t eat the lettuce, and that’s a problem, and I’ve told them so,” she said. “They’re just not listening.”
Does this sound like your company? Employees with the best of intentions speaking up about things that need to be improved hoping to ensure the long-term growth and success of the organization? If so, you are not alone. I regularly speak with employees who say they are disengaged because leaders don’t listen, respect their opinions or solicit feedback. The saddest aspect of this scenario? It simply doesn’t have to be this way.
WHAT CAN I DO? Most companies conduct a quarterly employee town hall meeting. Approach the group that leads these events and suggest that after the meeting, employees are invited to stay for an hour to brainstorm solutions to a problem your organization is facing, otherwise known as a focus group. If your company does not hold a town hall meeting, lead focus groups for employees every other month in an effort to give people a voice and convey that their opinions matter. Maybe if Subway had done this, they would not be in the position they are. Just maybe.
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a 2017 Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement, 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.