“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

When you look at your employees, what do you see?

If you have hourly, non-desk workers with a relatively high turnover rate, you might see your workforce as a group of expendable assets. Some organizations encourage a culture where leaders write this group off as people who will leave their job as soon as a better offer comes along.

They perceive employees who feel no loyalty to the company and are just punching the clock for a paycheck.

We talk with large organizations on a daily basis and one of the most interesting questions we ask is, “what do you call your hourly or non-desk employees?”  Responses to this question have included Associates, Team Members, and even Cast Members.

Ultimately, we have learned to ask this question because what you call your employees is indicative of how you perceive them, which is an indicator of how you treat them, speak to them, and prioritize them.

Companies who use the term “team members” to refer to their hourly workforce embrace a team mentality. From their first day on the job, “team members” must embrace the expectation that they are contributing to a team, and managers perceive their employees as assets for accomplishing a common goal.

I love this article highlighting a Facebook post that recently took the Internet by storm. Mike Waite is a McDonald’s employee working more than 50 hours each week as he pursues a degree and strives toward his goals. Frustrated with the preconceived notions of working at McDonald’s, he offered up these words of wisdom:

“Every person I work with has a story and every person is working their ass off in what can be a very tough job…”

“I work with people I would aspire to be like, who have strengths in areas I wish I had, who have overcome situations I never could and who have the determination to not fade away on handouts but rather step up and work…”

“… this job has pushed my limits in so many areas!”

Waite’s goal with this post was to help his friends on Facebook see the human side of the McDonald’s workforce, but I think this is an important message for managers and leaders at every organization.

Your workforce is made of humans with real hopes, dreams, and goals. Every person on your payroll has a story. The way you perceive, treat, and communicate with your hourly workers really does matter.

However, investing in the human side of your workforce is not just a “feel-good” expense – we now know that morale and employee engagement are major contributors to your bottom line. Connection drives engagement, and engagement reduces turnover. And this all starts with how you view your workforce.

mike waite mcdonalds facebook post