Business and Operations
From the Editor’s Desk: June 2007
By Cam Wood
Minimum Work Ethic
By Cam Wood
Here in Ontario we’ve seen numerous headlines lately
about the changes to the province’s minimum wage. Spun mostly out of
the Greater Toronto Area, we’ve read about how $8 per hour cannot
provide a sustainable existence.
Minimum Work Ethic
Here in Ontario we’ve seen numerous headlines lately about the changes to the province’s minimum wage. Spun mostly out of the Greater Toronto Area, we’ve read about how $8 per hour cannot provide a sustainable existence. Granted living in a large urban area – be it Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver – can be costly, but there’s part of me that says this is not really a provincial government issue. It’s an employment issue.
The eastern provinces are beginning to see the influence of a booming Alberta; where a drive-thru attendant at a doughnut shop is raking in $16 per hour, with employment incentives like trips to Mexico or brand new MP3 players.
In speaking with pizzeria operators about wage conditions, a very disturbing and prevalent thread has emerged almost universally: today’s employees “expect” rather than “invest.” One operator shared that his hiring experience lately has been with those looking for exceptional wages, and weekends off to pursue their “inner Paris Hilton.”
People who are worth $10 per hour, $15, $20 … they are already making that kind of money because of the value they bring to their employers. If not, then it may be time to dust off the resume and search for something better.
Yes, we need to make the distinction that we are talking about pizzeria employees, mostly part-timers, and vastly first-timers to the working class. Foodservice has never been a field that paid exuberant wages, unless you’re Mario Batali.
But as I entered the workforce, what now seems eons ago, my father explained to me that employment was a privilege. My very first “privilege” was cleaning out stalls at a sheep farm.
He made it quite clear, that regardless of what the labour was, it was my responsibility to provide my skills, to the best of my ability, to those that had given me the opportunity to earn money. In return for my efforts I was owed nothing more than fair compensation. It was a very traditional perspective on employment, and something that appears to be sadly missing today.
What we earn, be it hourly, annually, or on bonus, should be reflective of the commitment we bring when we arrive at work. Does the person who continually upsells the customer when they phone in their order, or offers the walk-ins the opportunity to purchase drinks with their pizza, deserve the same wage as those who start each week by checking the weekend schedule and then lobbying fellow employees to switch shifts?
Minimum wages should be reserved for the latter. They offer no investment in the profitability of the business, and it’s doubtful they will recognize the need to change their work ethic.
Of course, if it were that simple, there would be no need for mandated minimum wages. But outside of corporate mentalities that adopt a big-box retail method of “Pay low, Profit high,” wages should best be reflected in the value the employee brings as opposed to the expectations of what is deserved.
Take the time to invest a work ethic in your employees, and minimum wage shouldn’t be much of an issue. Just make sure it’s not a mandate for the job but rather a philosophy for life.•