Ask Employees and They Will Tell You

Jim Luff
Posted on December 2, 2009
ANOTHER WRINGING FOR BELL TRANSPORTATION?
I have written three previous articles about the labor issues dogging Bell Transportation of Nevada, including a class action lawsuit filed by its chauffeurs. Last week, the suit was certified by a Federal Supreme Court in San Francisco. It is unfortunate that the issue was not resolved between management and employees before it got to this level which is very expensive for both parties.
 
Bell now seems ready and willing to improve the treatment of its employees who have in the past been asked to go out trolling at the airport and hotels for passengers on their own dime. If they landed a passenger, the payroll clock would start ticking. Until then, it was hope, luck, and prayers for the Bell chauffeurs, according to their lawsuit.
 
The class action lawsuit may have inspired Bell to ask its employees how they feel about their working conditions through an online survey. The survey has since been taken down off the Internet and my calls for seeking a comment or the results of their survey were unfortunately not returned.
 
The QuestionPro survey sought to learn how Bell employees felt about the company in many different areas, including fairness in assignments, responsiveness to concerns, and other operational issues seeking comment on an anonymous basis. I was able to view it and thought the questions were designed to improve the overall treatment of chauffeurs based on their responses to the questions.
 
I have to say that I truly admire the courage of such a survey as a bold endeavor. It was similar to a hotel survey asking, “How we can make it nicer for you during your stay?”
 
I think it is good to have feedback and companies should have suggestion boxes and programs to reward those who offer up ideas on how to improve the work as well as open communication between management and rank-and-file employees. 
 
For those who may be so adventurous as to initiate a survey for your employees, just remember the long range. What are you going to do if you don’t like the results? If there are things that you cannot change, will you appear to be unresponsive to your employees? Will they reflect and wonder why you wanted to know if you don’t plan to do anything about it? Did you do it just to hear how miserable they are? What if they don’t like Big O brand tires and insist that every car has Michelin tires? What if they don’t like that Pina Colada air freshener that you buy in bulk and they want cherry? I mean, so many issues could come up that you can’t fix, and yet now you have the information and you must do something about it. To this end, be careful what you ask unless you know what action you might take in areas that you already know need improvement.
 
I would like to think that if someone in our company has an improvement suggestion, we speak often enough that they would feel comfortable suggesting something to me. I have lost track of how many great ideas came from our fabulous chauffeurs. I also would like to believe that because we as a company take care of them, they take care of the company and life is a two-way street.
 
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor 

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Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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