Summary of The Good Jobs Strategy

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Investing in your retail company’s employees makes good business sense, writes MIT professor Zeynep Ton. She offers a fresh perspective by showing how this investment in your staff pays off even more in tandem with four facets of “operational excellence.” Using real-life examples from four outstanding companies, including Costco and Trader Joe’s, she shows how good wages, cross-training, overstaffing and limited product assortments can help retailers energize and motivate their employees. She also recounts some notable retail stumbles as cautionary tales. getAbstract recommends her solid advice and practical wisdom to retail decision makers, executives and store managers seeking to build an engaged workforce.

About the Author

Zeynep Ton, a former faculty member at the Harvard Business School, teaches at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and The New Yorker.



Cutting Labor Costs Backfires

Salespeople and cashiers hold the two most common jobs in the United States – yet they earn far below the median wage for US workers. The salary of a typical full-time retail sales worker falls below the poverty line for a family of four. Part-timers have it worse: Not only are their wages lower, but their employers often schedule them to work so few hours that they can’t make a living. Schedules fluctuate without warning – day shift one week, night shift the next – so workers cannot go to school or hold a second job.

In the US, such low-wage jobs are among the fastest-growing employment sectors. Low-paid workers and their families bear the costs, as do customers who encounter retail workers with too much to do or too little training to help them. Taxpayers feel it when underpaid workers require public assistance. Low-paying retailers create their own problems: falling employee engagement and rising turnover.

Caught in the “Vicious Cycle”

Retailers fail to invest in their workers because most believe keeping labor costs low drives profitability. Discount retailers, especially, cling to that belief because their strategy ...

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