Quakers and Business Group
Promoting Quaker values in Business and the Workplace

Working with People

Consider that in your professional life you are engaged, with others, in a journey of development  –  practically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

Treat other people in the way in which you would like to be treated. Remember that people have different values and that you might be dealing with people from a culture that is different from yours. Like ourselves, at different times people might be angry, hurt or distracted and they might make mistakes or do things that are hurtful.

20. Responsibility of employers to employees

Advice

During the early twentieth century, Quakers pioneered better ways of treating people at work that are now accepted as normal practice. Quaker businesses took a leading part in reducing working hours, providing sick benefit, pensions, life assurance and, in some cases, affordable housing.

One of the primary responsibilities of business today is the creation of opportunity for people of all ages . Employers have a responsibility to bring out the best in people and encourage their moral and intellectual growth. They should seize opportunities to improve the well-being of their employees.

If or when disputes occur, it is easier to deal with tensions and perhaps take difficult action early on than it is to try to resolve conflicts and make peace after a difficulty has developed into a destructive, full-scale dispute. A clear dispute or grievance procedure that is known and accepted by all can take the heat out of a disagreement and allow a speedy and just resolution.

Queries

Are people proud to work for your company? Do your employees consider your business a good place to work?

Are your places of work safe, healthy, cheerful and pleasant?

Do you treat your employees in the same way that you would like to be treated?

Do you give volunteers the same care, consideration and recognition as employees?

Are your working hours flexible enough to allow for family commitments?

Do you provide adequate training for your employees so that they can progress either in your business or another when an opportunity arises?

Do you support your staff when they decide to leave? Do you provide fair references? When you have to dismiss an employee, for whatever reason, do you do it as kindly as possible? In a case of redundancy, do you compensate your employee for (some of) the time it will take them to find another job?

Do you have a regular programme of performance reviews and do you adhere to it?

Do you seek to avoid and prevent unnecessary disputes? Do you have ways to detect disputes and deal with them before they become disruptive? Do you have a clear grievance procedure that emphasises mediation or arbitration?

21. Responsibility of employees to an employer

Advice

Your employer is providing you and possibly your family with a livelihood. You should recognise that in return you must earn your keep . Whatever your position, make sure that you take your share of the responsibility to make the company a success.

The workplace provides many facilities, opportunities and distractions. These might include chat, telephones , e-mail, photocopiers, internet access, and so on. Make sure these are used for the furtherance of the business. Use for private convenience, entertainment or gain should be kept to a minimum. Remember that to go beyond reasonable use is a betrayal of your employer’s trust and is in fact theft.

Queries

Do you give a full day’s work for your wage, salary or commission? Do you avoid wasting your employer’s or client’s time? Do you spend unnecessary time socialising on the job?

Do you speak up and tell your employer when there are problems or when you see difficulties ahead?

Do you ask for permission to use company facilities for your own purposes?

Do you treat your employer the way you would wish to be treated ? Do you uphold the reputation of your company to others outside work?

Are you pleasant, courteous, helpful and supportive to customers, suppliers and other employees?

22. Customers

Advice

Treat your relationship with your customers with respect. Try to base your transactions and exchanges on fairness and equality so neither party feels aggrieved or mistreated.

Conventional wisdom is that the customer is always right, but this must be accepted with care. Reserve the right to decline custom from someone who does not respect your own rights

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Be careful not to pass information learned from one customer on to another, especially when the two are in competition.

All businesses will receive complaints from customers. Sometimes they are fair, and sometimes they are not; but all complaints have to be dealt with if your reputation as a fair supplier is to be maintained.

Queries

Do you treat your customers with the respect they deserve?

If you are likely to work for two customers in the same industry, do you inform both customers and tell them what steps you take to preserve the confidence of each?

If you are going to be late in delivery, do you tell your customer as soon as possible, or do you wait until they complain ? Do you do all you can to minimise the problem for your customer?

Is your invoice comparable with your quotation – or are there lots of extras?

Do you decline custom from someone who does not respect your rights?

Are you willing to listen to and learn from any complaints? Do you replace faulty goods without question? Do you have a fair complaints procedure? Do you take all reasonable steps to deal with complaints as quickly as possible and to rectify an error as soon as it is found?

23. Suppliers

Advice

Treat the relationship with your suppliers in the same spirit as your customer relationships. Suppliers have just as much right to be respected as customers. They are equally important to your business success. They may also be a customer one day.

Queries

Do you treat suppliers with the respect they deserve?

If you have a strong purchasing position, do you treat your suppliers harshly, abusing the power this gives you ? If you want to end a long-standing relationship with a supplier, do you give enough notice for them to adjust their business?

When a supplier provides credit, they are lending you their money. Do you treat that privilege with the respect it deserves?

Do you strive to achieve lasting relationships of mutual trust with your suppliers? Do you keep them waiting for appointments?

Do you ask an unnecessary number of suppliers to provide quotations? Remember that every quotation takes time to prepare. Do you expect suppliers to provide free work when giving a quotation? Do you provide someone else’s quotation as a target to beat?

Do you ask for quotations without intending to change suppliers, but only to reduce the charges of an existing supplier?

Do you ensure that you have contracts with your suppliers – for their protection as well as for yours? Do you give your suppliers prompt, clear and helpful feedback when their goods or services are not up to the standard expected?

24. Competitors

Advice

Respect your competitors. Remember that together you are looking after the reputation of your whole industry. Within the spirit and intent of the law, consider working jointly with your competitors to provide a new or better product or service. Avoid wasteful or hurtful associations, cartels and monopolies that damage the economy, the environment or other people.

Queries

Do you avoid maligning your competitors?

Do you desist from industrial espionage? If confidential information concerning a competitor is made available to you, do you refrain from making use of it? Do you take reasonable and prudent precautions to protect your business and its employees from industrial espionage, hackers and malicious attacks?

Are you willing to refer a customer to a competitor when you cannot provide their needs? Do you try to entice customers away from your competitors by unethical means?

Do you avoid price-fixing arrangements?

25. Caring for oneself

Advice

Business, like other activities in life, requires that each person takes good care of themselves.

Develop personal habits, routines and rituals that limit the stress and pressure in your life. Build your own self-discipline to work and rest effectively, living a rich life of benefit to all.

Queries

Do you take sufficient rest and holidays to ensure you are effective in your job?

Do you ensure that you know both yourself and your business and that you set realistic and achievable objectives? Are you learning to face issues and situations so that you avoid unnecessary fear and poor decisions? Do you seek wise counsel from both inside and outside your business when in difficulties and when contemplating new directions?

Do you know when to let go, whether it be to others, to sell, or to retire?

Are you careful to share your burdens as well as your joys? Do you allow others to take a full part in the work and responsibility of your business so that neither you nor they are over-burdened or over-stressed? Do you praise and value yourself as well as your employees?