Shutdown: Non-Essential Personnel in Your Business

Nonessential Personnel

Welcome to this Special Government Shut-Down Issue.

Today, I’m making the announcement that starting at 12 noon today, all non-essential personnel in my business are to be furloughed. Laid off. There will be no exceptions.

Oh wait a second, all the people in my business are essential. Are yours?

Every few years our federal government shuts down for one reason or another. Most taxpayers are largely unaffected by this and could care less, but it makes for lots of political posturing, scary headlines, accusations & finger pointing. And, of course, some citizens actually ARE affected. But it’s not usually the non-essential workers, who, after the shutdown, are often paid for the work that they didn’t do during the shutdown.

Let’s go over that again: Non-essential workers, getting paid to do non-essential work… that didn’t actually get done.

Maybe governments can afford to operate that way, but most of us in business can not.

But my point today is not to get even remotely political. It’s simply to ask:

“Do You Have Any Non-Essential Personnel in Your Business?”

…people whose work makes absolutely no difference at all to your top or bottom line? People without whom everything would continue to function absolutely fine… or perhaps even better?

If so, why?

Just the idea of having and paying non-essential personnel makes no sense to me! Why would anyone do that?

In reality, any business owner living up to his or her fiduciary responsibility can’t do it. It simply can’t be justified.

For that reason, I believe each business owner needs to either a.) employ only essential personnel, that is, those whose work actually makes a difference and contributes to the success of the organization and eliminate the rest or b.) make the decision that every person and position in your organization is essential… and then… treat them as such.

If you were to think of a job that could be considered non-essential, you might think of something like the greeter position at Walmart.

Their only job is to stand there, smile at people, welcome them, maybe hand them a smiley sticker and wish them a good day. Most other stores don’t employ someone for that purpose. So is the job really essential? To stores that don’t employ greeters, the answer is obviously no. The job is not essential, therefore it doesn’t exist. But Walmart obviously believes that greeters make their customers feel valued and appreciated. So that makes the greeter an essential function at Walmart.

Each business decides which functions are important to them and their mission, and each position in an organization needs to contribute to that mission in a meaningful way.

So I encourage you to take a look at your company — the people you employ and the work they do. Be sure that you and they can view their positions as meaningful and essential.

No one should ever feel that the work they do is irrelevant, unnecessary, insignificant or worthless. And no business should create positions that lack true purpose.

As you evaluate the people you employ and the work they do, if you can’t view their position as meaningful, then change the parameters of the job!

Figure out a way to change the daily activities and the responsibilities to make the job meaningful and essential — to the business and to the employee.

If you can do that, great.

If you can’t do that, then the position should probably be eliminated, so the person can find a job that brings along the dignity that comes with being meaningful.

No one should go though life feeling like the work they do is non-essential. Make the job meaningful or make it go away.

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