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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I now hate Staples

Yesterday, while waiting for the bag’o’ fluids to infuse our hero (The Amazing Bob) with healthful wonderment, I read the paper. Even the Business section which I, most often and at best, give nothing more than a cursory glance.

I found this utterly infuriating bit—while Staples, the big office supply retailer, attempts to stay afloat, to reinvent itself and reemerge as THE all time go-to source for every little biz related need {(they sell paper, computers, printer ink, furniture (!), cleaning supplies (!!) and snack food (!!!)}, the CEO’s already mammoth salary has doubled.
Staples Inc. has struggled as the Internet and other retail forces reshape the office supply business it dominated for decades. Sales have fallen and profits have slumped. The company is closing stores, and employees are feeling the squeeze.

One person who has prospered through the rocky reshaping of the business is chief executive Ronald Sargent. His annual total compensation has nearly doubled to $12.4 million over the past three years.
One thing that came up quickly in my Googling of this dude— he's most def anti-Affordable Care Act. Staples has been cutting its remaining employee's hours from full to part time to, ostensibly, cut costs. This means that they get to avoid having to pay benefits such as, ya know, health insurance.

Labor, the folks who work on the front line, seem obviously expendable.  We’re a controllable expense. Just pawns in the game of life, like Mongo. If the head honchos can get us all to work twice as hard, they can hire and retain half as many. Right? Cut your workforce and *BOOM* more profit. Right? At first sure. After that? Wickedly overworked, under trained, undervalued employee’s job satisfaction wanes—they leave or stop performing at peak levels which leads to unhappy customers.

From the Harvard Business Review article Why “Good Jobs” Are Good for Retailers by Zeynep Ton:
…instead of responding to short-term pressures by automatically cutting labor, stores should strive to find the staffing level that maximizes profits on a sustained basis. In many cases, that will mean adding workers. 
Retailers do not just underinvest in the quantity of labor. They treat the quality of labor the same way—paying low wages, offering insufficient benefits, and providing inadequate training. The short-term pressures are just too difficult to resist. The inevitable consequences are understaffed stores with high turnover of low-skilled employees who are often part-timers and have little or no commitment to their work.
What this says to me is that the B-Schools who're churning out all these axe wielding CEOs, are teaching the future job cutters of America to be intellectually lazy—to only go after low hanging fruit. To date they're being handily rewarded for their tiny brained bullshit.

Ron Sargent now makes $12.4 mil. That breaks down to $24,023.23 a week and $600.58 per hour. Waddya know. He makes more in one hour than many, myself included, earn in a week. Yet the company, whose health he's charged with reviving, is in the toilet.
Carly Fiorina walked away from her disastrous HP tenure with $40 mil.
Mitt-Job Killer-Romney's so rich the gods go to him for loans.
Romney and his team also maximized returns by firing workers, seeking government subsidies, and flipping companies quickly for large profits. Sometimes Bain investors gained even when companies slid into bankruptcy.

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