The Uncertainty Of Employment


I remember as a young lad how scary it was to think I might lose my job. Everything revolves around that paycheck and to have it eliminated or have your hours reduced can be a catastrophic event. Going home to announce the news to your young family can spell gloom and doom. The atmosphere today with our sagging economy must be nightmarish for those who are being cut back on their hours or losing their jobs altogether. Sometimes it can’t be helped. The uncertainty of employment and the effects it has on your operation is no small matter.

What goes through my mind though, is knowing how those cutbacks may affect the operation. We all know what it is like to have just one person not show up for a day and what it can do to wreak havoc on the production or even the counter. How about the route? Someone must be taken away from another job so the route can be covered. Now there is a shortage in that department. I remember all too well how that can wreck a day. In fact, it is the main reason people get out of this business, I am told in my travels. I have heard from more than one operator that quit drycleaning, that maintaining help in any consistency was the reason they left the industry.

Employee Problems In Certain Areas Of The Country

I remember reading a survey somewhere not too many months ago that someone did about the reasons why people leave the industry. Sure enough, employee problems were right at the top of the list. Though many operators reported that they had little or no problems with help and that they had very little employee turnover. That got me to thinking as to why it can vary so much across the country. It appears that some of the problem is related to geographic. The very nature of our industry makes it difficult as we are known for low wages and hot work. The counter is probably the least difficult position to fill but filling it with people who are smart and willing can be a challenge. Some of the problem is sheer lack of work ethics.

I always felt hiring someone that was smart was a start because it is hard to teach smart. The same goes for responsibility. Either they have it or they don’t. But then sometimes if you can hold onto someone, it takes time for them to mature into an adult and start taking their job more seriously. If only you could keep them long enough for that to happen! Making an investment in an employee is necessary to begin a relationship that has trust at its core. You simply must put a certain amount of faith in someone or the relationship will never build.

Among the many reasons employees come and go according to the Human Research Advocates Company are flexible scheduling, tuition assistance (especially for those girls you hire from college to work the counter), your work culture and environment, relationship with your boss. Too often we throw them into the pit and forget about them with little or no follow up. A new employee is likely to enjoy no attention in the beginning as they fall into a comfortable routine and get used to their new co-workers. But soon, the boss must take an interest and follow up with this newbie or they will feel neglected. Constant training is a must.

Don’t Discourage Your Employees By Overloading Them With Too Many Tasks

What worries me also is that the work suffers when we lose help. As we struggle to make ends meet in any and all industries, the people at the top want to protect their income so they trim the labor to accomplish that goal and that is when the quality goes down the tubes. This is happening everywhere in the marketplace. Every product you buy today is smaller, lousy quality and yet the price is higher. In our industry it relates to poor finishing. No sizing-thus limp clothes, double legging, cheap hangers, less tissue and packaging until we are putting out half the product we once did.

Pay Close Attention To Employee Attitudes

For every person you take away from a department, you lose some protection against errors and sloppiness. If the volume has not changed significantly, then the danger of continuing to reduce the labor force will be your downfall. Eventually the quality will suffer and there goes your customer base. It won’t happen quickly but it will eat away at your production and overload your employees to the point to where they could not give a flip how the product turns out. They are too obsessed with the fact that they are short handed and asked to do too much multi tasking. Attitudes get sour as they feel you are asking too much of them and then morale sinks.

I don’t know the answer other than to do your best to take good care of your employees, invest in them (even in the worst of times) and quit trying to reduce the labor percentage just to protect your own income. Having a floater person is a great asset. These multi-tasked people can fill in on any given day and take up the slack. I can remember when all plants had a floater. So…review your labor costs and check on that product quality and worker moral and hopefully you can stay above ruination.

I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!


About Kenney Slatten

Kenney Slatten Training Company is a Dry Cleaning and Laundry Consulting Firm Specializing in Environmental Training and Certification. Kenney Slatten Training Company, or KSTC, is based in Texas with offices in Arizona and California. Kenney Slatten is a certified instructor/trainer for the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), is actively involved in the San Diego Drycleaners Association, the California Cleaners Association, is an Allied Trade board member of DLI, the Executive Director of Western States Drycleaners & Launderers Association, a member of the International Drycleaners Congress, and a columnist for American Drycleaner and Western Cleaner and Launderer magazines. The Kenney Slatten Training Company provides the only complete environmental training and inspection process. Started in 1987, Kenny became the first instructor for California E.P.A, OSHA, and state regulations. Kenney publishes a 36 point plant requirement every year in trade publications which is his guide for plant training and certification. We are the only company that provides dry cleaning and laundry specific environmental training. Kenney Slatten is a third generation drycleaner/laundryman from Houston, Texas. His company, KSTC, can teach you the skills you need to have a successful plant. His wagon is found all over the country parked under a tree just waiting for the next call to come to your plant. He can be reached at (800) 429-3990; e-mail: or go to: www.

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