Now why do you suppose that is?
If you’re into vacuous jargon, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Target’s March 3 news release, which is graced with catchy phrases like “reassert its cultural leadership to build unparalleled guest affinity” and “a channel-agnostic approach to growing its business” and even “a shopping experience that is centered on ease and inspiration.” Don’t be surprised if the next Rocky movie replaces the Philadelphia Museum of Art stair-step run with a Target-sponsored Stallone dancing near the power tools.
The reference on jobs is set up with the usual catchwords and phrases: “cost savings,” “efficiencies” and driving leaner, more efficient capabilities.” Nowhere in this cascade of corporate claptrap is there any acknowledgement of the human toll this represents.
Meanwhile, Deloitte’s third annual Global Human Capital Trends report found employee engagement to be the number-one worry among corporations. Yet 60 percent of companies have no meaningful initiatives to measure or improve engagement.
The Deloitte report goes on to cite a number of areas that impact engagement, such as work-life integration, job design and work management. But I found this one particularly interesting: looking at employees as customers and volunteers, not just workers.
To my mind, that’s the key. Employees are engaged when they feel valued. They’re engaged when they believe management cares about them. They’re engaged when they believe the company will do everything possible to avoid destroying their livelihoods in the name of “transformation” and “differentiation in the marketplace”—and when that isn’t possible, showing them the utmost compassion and respect.
Sometimes layoffs can’t be avoided. I get that. I’ve stood at the business end of reporters’ pens, microphones and news cameras countless times to deliver such awful news. But every single time I made sure the human element was addressed, that the pain these people faced was acknowledged. Uncomfortable? Yes. But the right thing to do.
How sad that Target chose instead to stir the blood-lust of the investment community—which has never seen a layoff it didn’t like—by equating the coming pain, in the words of CEO Brian Cornell, with “momentum” that will “ignite Target’s innovative spirit.”
One wonders how Target employees’ spirits are doing right now.