With the ousting of former CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas, thousands of Market Basket employees in New England have walked off the job, refusing to return to work until their former leader has been returned to his post. Now, almost four weeks into this standoff, Market Basket employees have been told to return to work by Friday, August 15, 2014 or their employment will be terminated. Many are willing to make financial sacrifices and walk away from a job they loved. What makes employees so loyal to a leader that they would “risk it all” for him?
Artie T., as he’s affectionately known by his employees, built a culture of family at Market Basket. It’s the recent deviation from that culture that has employees ready to walk away. They are loyal beyond any measure of employment loyalty that we’ve seen in decades. Here are a few lessons we’ve learned from Artie T. and the culture he bred:
Make it personal. Get to know your employees. Know their names, a little about them, and when you see them, ask questions about their lives. Show you care. Arthur T. was famous among his employees for saying “hello” and checking in on personal matters.
Culture starts at the top, but one person can’t do it all. Artie T. used his senior management team to disseminate his message and cultivate a culture that made people feel like valued members of the Market Basket family.
Build trust. Employees will be loyal to an employer they trust. One of the largest grievances the employees have is their distrust of the new management.
Job satisfaction goes a long way towards retention. Market Basket had a history of long term retention, with some employees working 40 plus years. In today’s marketplace of job hopping, that kind of retention is unheard of.