For a bit of change of scenery, I went store visiting in York today. It's been a bit relentless over the last few weeks, with 11-12 hour days at my desk and then overnight stand-by too, so it was nice to just get away from the office for a day. I won't lie to you, it was also a lovely day to be driving up the M1 with my sunglasses on and to get the chance to (briefly) walk around my old stamping ground in York town centre in the blazing sunshine.
As a favour to another colleague in the office, we also popped out to Selby on the way home to check on something for them. What I didn't realise, until I walked through the door of the shop, was that the thing I was checking on was the closure of a part of the shop and the redundancy of two members of staff who have been there for more than sixty years between them. In fact, the person that I spoke to was on her last afternoon in the shop before her redundancy after 34 years, and although she was more than pleasant, to say that she was unamused and couldn't really give two shits about how the closure was going is probably an understatement. She was still giving first class service to the customers who walked in when we were there too, and it's hard not to wonder at what the business is going to lose when all that experience walks out the door.
We were the first people from head office to speak to her about this, never mind to actually walk through the door and look her in the eye. Nobody had even had the courtesy to explain what was happening to her beyond the bare facts of her redundancy, which seems astonishing. We were only there as a favour to someone else (who neglected to mention all of this to us and let us walk into this situation totally unprepared), but it felt like the least we could do to thank her for all her years of hard work and to wish her well for the future. Thirty-four years is a pretty large chunk of anyone's life.
It's true that it's the people that make a business. I don't care how many years of glorious history a company might have, if you treat people like this, then ultimately the people worth having will vote with their feet.
Bobbins. Proper bobbins.