Here is a full-time help wanted ad: Full time store help wanted. Well, here’s what you get: you get poverty level wages, a chaotic schedule, no training, poorly designed work, and no meaning or purpose.

This is a bad job, right? Nobody wants this job. This is a job that many, many people have within low cost retail. But it turns out that these bad jobs are bad not only for employees, but bad also for investors…

This is the contention that is made up by this book, which is written by Zeynep Ton. It’s entitled The Good Jobs Strategy. It’s got the cold hard science of what you would expect coming out of MIT’s Sloan School of management. But it’s also got a soft heart towards big problems that we face today in society. It’s really starting to change business thinking around serving employees at companies.She identified that the highest business performance companies in low cost retail actually had the highest labor budgets and the best operations management. This is paradoxical, right? It comes from “human centered operations” strategies. The key to success that she found in the most successful companies are that there were two things going on:

  1. The company had excellent operations management
  2. The company was investing in its employees

There were four components to the operations management piece. They are (1) operate with slack, (2) offer less, (3) cross train, (4) standardize and empower. The crown jewel or the centerpiece of human centered operations is that you must invest in your people. I think the logic of Zeynep Ton’s book is illustrated nicely by a quotation from Herb Kelleher who was the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. “We take great care of our people. They take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders.” Is it right or is it smart to serve employees? It’s both, right? It’s wise. This is a quote from the book, “The Good Jobs Strategy is a sustainable strategy in which everyone wins.” She describes four different groups winning. “The employees win,” they have good jobs. “The customers win,” they’re being served well. “The investors win”. She found that the companies with the best investment performance were offering the best jobs. She says, “the icing on the cake is that society also wins.” The world is better off for having companies like this.