advice/perspective on jobs, work and management

I had to interview for my old job

I work in construction. The pay is okay (I belong to a union), but it’s not quite enough to support a family – and I have a kid on the way! (I should be good in a couple years, though). To make ends meet in the meantime, my plan was to work nights and weekends at my old job bussing tables and running food at a restaurant. But when I went back to see if they had anything for me, they made me interview all over again. I even had to fill out another job application! In their defense, most of the managers were new – but really? I left on good terms with the owner (or so I thought), so why put me through this? Don’t you save the paperwork for your old employees? In the end, the shifts I wanted weren’t available anyway. But by then I was so turned off I’d decided to keep looking. Good riddance! – Name withheld

There’s an old adage in the restaurant/service industry: Customers who leave happy and satisfied will tell two of their friends. But a “guest” who’s had a bad experience?

They tell ten.

This is why some establishments go to such great lengths to make sure their patrons had an enjoyable, if not exceptional experience. Comment cards are slipped in with the check, or one of those pesky online surveys shows up in your email in-box the next day. Yelp! reviews are combed over for even a whiff of dissatisfaction. And “secret shoppers” are deployed to ensure the food and service is all on point.

So frankly it amazes me when these organizations don’t apply this same logic to the treatment of their former and/or future employees.

What? Do they think disgruntled ex-staff are whisked off to some far corner of the galaxy to some uninhabited planet where no one can hear their complaints and grievances? Don’t they realize these individuals remain right here on earth, and return to their communities where they might then vent to family, friends, and even complete strangers about their poor or otherwise insensitive treatment – any one of whom might be looking for work themselves?

Or consider your experience. You actually liked your this employer enough to want to go back.

That makes you a “repeat customer,” to my way of thinking. And I probably don’t need to tell you how much $$$ companies like Amazon, Uber, Starbucks, Apple, etc., etc. spend coaxing, cajoling, or outright begging their customers to come back. In your case, your former employer actually did the hard work necessary to make you want to return – but then they flushed all that good will down the toilet by making you feel as if you’d never set foot in the building before, much less were once the proven organizational asset you seem to have been. Why? Probably because of some manager’s outdated, protocol-driven, bureaucratic mindset. Or maybe some manual somewhere stipulates that prospective employees first fill out a job application, no matter what their work history.

I swear, it absolutely baffles me.

I suppose this is the point where I could do the whole “this-just-means-this-job-isn’t-for-you-and-you’ll-be-better-off-somewhere-else” routine. But we both know that’s not necessarily true. Wherever you do end up—particularly if it’s in the service industry—things aren’t likely to be much better. They may even be worse – which would be a shame.

So, I’m sorry. I really don’t have any advice for you other than to keep looking. And what little I may have been able to offer in the way of perspective I admit isn’t very optimistic.

But if I may, one final thought:

In my own experience, a tiny percentage of employers are at long last beginning to realize—albeit slowly, and incrementally—that their employees (past, present, and future) are, effectively, their customers. Therefore they should be treated as such – and not as a rack of dirty dishes to be used up and then replaced once they chip, crack, or break.

Unfortunately, the day when all employers come to see things this way is probably further off than you and I might both like. But by the time your baby-on-the-way is old enough to enter the workforce?

Who knows?

Congratulations – and best of luck to you, and your growing family.

[ 1 Comment ]

  1. Ralph

    Sobering, but useful perspective, backed, apparently, by deep experience. Thank you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


To comment on a specific post, scroll to the bottom of the post’s page and submit your comment there. To search the archive, click here