Poor employee relations can have big consequences

Editor’s Blog Posted 10/12/15
Where does your business draw the line in terms of trusting your staff?

Following unimpressive figures and a national press expose of its treatment of employees, major retailer Sports Direct has endured a 13% plunge in its share value.*

The company saw its revenue increase by just 0.1% in the first six months of its financial year, but probably more damaging, in terms of its public image, was the revelation that staff at the firm’s warehouses were effectively being paid less than the minimum wage. This was due to the fact that workers underwent a rigorous search procedure at the end of each shift, typically taking 15 minutes - requiring them to be on the premises for an additional hour and a quarter per week, for which they were not paid.

Although Sports Direct now claims to be reducing the time these searches take, this raises an interesting debate about issues of trust between employers and their workforce.

In a business that sees a high volume of temporary or seasonal staff passing through its doors, it could be argued that there is no time to build up a relationship of mutual trust and respect, and that protecting a business’s assets is the most important priority in that situation.

However, the other side of the coin is that perhaps mutual trust and respect should be offered from the outset, as something that is retained rather than earned. Should an employer adopt the “there’s plenty more where you came from” attitude to temporary staff? Or are there benefits - quite aside from public relations - to be gained from a more respectful approach?

We’re keen to hear your views on how you deal with issues of trust in your business, and how you balance commercial concerns with the needs of your staff. Are there circumstances under which you would search employees before they left the premises, or do you already have similar security measures in place? Get in touch to let us know your thoughts.

(* correct at time of writing)

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