Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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workers are especially likely to get each other sick. "There are shops in my town that completely shut down for multiple days at a time during the last fl u season. That's a huge loss of income. You have to wonder, if [there] had [been] a policy in place, they could have avoided that. Did they really save money by not giving workers paid time off?" Andrew also reports a downtick in the amount of same-day call-offs, which means fewer workers called in on what should be days off, as well as fewer workers waiting until the last minute to seek treatment. DO WHAT YOU CAN Running an independent coffee shop is challenging, and it's important to acknowledge that while it's in coffee shops' best interest to fi nd ways to offer paid-sick-leave, there are still things they can do to reduce the pressure employees feel to work while sick. One strategy for employers is to make it clear to workers that they are encouraged to take a day off if they're ill, even though that day will be unpaid. While many work- ers can't afford to lose the time, studies have still shown reductions in days worked by sick employees when employers make it clear that staying home is encouraged. An important element of that is to try to make sure your team isn't a skeleton crew—real- istically speaking, employees will get sick at some point, so whether that time is paid or unpaid, your business should be able to run without one or two of your staff members. Another thing businesses can do is offer what you can. It's perfectly understandable that the fi nances won't necessarily be there to offer a full paid-sick-leave suite, but assess what you can afford without taking an all-or-nothing approach. Even if each employee only has one paid sick day a year, that's better than none. Still another method employers can use to better develop paid-sick-leave strategies is to set a savings and/or price rise goal specifi cally with a paid-sick-leave program in mind. It may not be feasible to put aside that money or raise prices now, but could you set a realistic goal for six months, a year, or even three years from now? If so, now is the time to start planning. Having goals on paper with realistic timeframes is often hugely helpful in achieving them. Todd of Undercurrent also believes that the industry at large has work to do in educating consumers in order to make our industry sustainable. "When low margins deter employers from providing basic benefi ts and decent wages to their staffs, I believe that we need to evaluate the pricing structure of specialty coffee," he says. "Given the high quality customers expect regarding service as well as the food and beverages in specialty-coffee shops, custom- ers should be better educated on the value they are receiving so that higher prices become accepted, creating a more sustainable business model." Overall, the benefi ts to a thoughtful, conscientious paid-sick-leave strategy can't be overstated. Paid-sick-leave policies keep customers safe, employees healthy, and staffs operational. Employees working sick is not only dangerous, it's off-putting to customers and under- mines the ambience and perception of quality that specialty business- es strive for. Customer service is about interpersonal contact, both on a physical and emotional level; policies that encourage employees to work while unwell undermine that contact. While paid-sick-leave costs money, the shops that have invested in it report that the expense is well worth it for a happy, healthy café environment and a safe, enjoy- able customer experience. 75

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