The question for this week gets a bit tougher as we look at quality in a different way.
The question is this: Would you live within 2 miles of the facility where you work? Why or why not? What I am really asking is this: If there is housing within two miles of your facility, would you or your employees permanently live in it?
I found many facilities in such decrepit neighborhoods that anyone making over minimum wage would not live there.
This is different from a few generations ago, when everyone, often including the senior managers, lived close to the facility. Then, automobiles came along and management, as well as other employees, had the means and freedom to live elsewhere. This caused them to turn a blind eye to their own communities and give them little thought. They didn't even think of their immediate surroundings as their own communities.
It is not they are not charitable--there are pictures on companies' websites of employees cleaning up a river, taking toys to kids in the local hospital and so forth. It just escaped everyone's thoughts that perhaps charity and caring should start at home--within a two-mile radius of their facility. They climb over, go around, ignore the debris and dereliction near their facility to go to the river with the glamor shots of them picking up a plastic straw.
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The worst case I ever saw of this was over a quarter century ago in New England. A senior vice president asked me to go look at the morale problems in a certain facility. I went to the town. The mill had been there since the 1920's. It had gone through several ownership changes over the years. It was a poor performer. The town around the mill looked like it had not had a new house built in it in 50 years. The downtown area was decrepit. Yet in the yards of the mill worker's houses were expensive fishing boats, snowmobiles, and so forth. The mill workers were spending their high wages on toys while they lived in shacks.
I talked to a couple of managers. Asked them where they lived. It was some distance away. I went to that town. It was a picture perfect, white picket fence New England town about twenty miles away. The fast track managers came to the mill, did their tour of duty while living the good life in the white picket fence town, and left. The long-term mill workers didn't care and didn't feel threatened that the mill might be sold or shut down: "My grandad worked here and I expect my grandson to work here. Companies and managers come and go but nothing ever changes." There has been a change there--a Chinese company now owns that mill. We'll see what they do about the neighborhood.
Personally, I think it should be a policy that managers live near the facility where they work. If this is undesirable, fix it. Long term, it will pay huge dividends in morale, productivity and favorable treatment by the local governmental authorities. Lots can be done. For instance, companies could offer low interest loans or extra pay to all employees that live within five miles of a facility. Their ability to walk to work in times of distress, such as a snowstorm, will pay for a lifetime of subsidies in a flash if there is one such incident.
If you are surrounded by blight, you are part of the problem, it is not just "what you have to put up with"--it is something you have an opportunity to improve and at the same time improve your image.
For safety this week, that blight surrounding you begets crime and other problems, problems that can affect your facility. Change the local blight and you have helped your own company.
Be safe and we will talk next week.