You is smart, you is kind, you is important.”
That is a great line from the 2011 movie “The Help,” in which a black servant teaches the daughter of an entitled white woman that she is valuable. It’s good that she teaches the daughter that lesson, because her mother doesn’t seem to take much time for her.
Some people haven’t been blessed with a nanny or a parent that loved them. Some were abused and made to feel worthless as a child.
We seem to understand as common sense that parents should provide positive feedback to their children growing up.
Yet we don’t always seem to understand the importance of employers providing good feedback to employees in the workforce.
I was reminded of that several months ago when my staffing agency placed a warehouse worker for one of our clients. Warehouse and manufacturing jobs are often hard to fill, because they are physically demanding, they don’t exactly pay the salary of an engineer, and unfortunately they aren’t always perceived as being important.
But the reality is that manufacturing and distribution jobs are really the foundation of our economy. Without these positions, most other supporting positions can’t function.
Many recruiters and staffing agencies struggle with ghosting — when employees don’t show to work and don’t even bother calling.
And that is what happened with this employee — kind of. Well, he actually showed to work the first day. And he also showed to work the second day … for about two hours. The company camera showed him simply walking out and driving away two hours into his job. The client company contacted us, and one of my recruiters — who was quite baffled and annoyed — called him.
Usually, when an employee ghosts us or the rare times we had someone leave during the shift and not come back, we never received a return phone call. And usually, they don’t call us back.
That wasn’t the case this time. The employee answered the phone. When we asked him about why he left the job early, he didn’t seem to think it was unusual at all. In fact, he said he planned to return to work the next day. When we asked him what would cause him to think it was a good idea to leave work two hours into his shift, his response was nonchalant: “I thought it wasn’t important.”
We were even more baffled. Didn’t he know they depended on him? Didn’t he know they hired him because the work needed to be done? Didn’t he know his job was important?
Evidently not, because he himself said he didn’t think it was important.
Then it occurred to me: we had never actually told him that what he did was important.
We had communicated clearly the expectations, the job duties, who he reported to, the need to wear steel toe shoes. We had conducted a background check and drug screen. We reviewed every minute detail about the job.
At first, I thought that it should be assumed that his job was important. And most of us probably do realize our jobs are important.
But what if we didn’t grow up with parents who provided us positive feedback? What if no one ever provided us with feedback or constructive criticism?
Unfortunately, as I mention elsewhere, some jobs are incorrectly viewed as being “cooler” or more valuable than others.
Employers and managers should remember to provide employees with feedback.
And they should certainly remember to tell them their jobs are important.