Rewarding Incompetence – What the Sears IS going on?

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Sears Canada recent promotional banner
(Photo credit:  durhamradionews.com)

In the face of insolvency, Sears Canada has had to ask for court protection from its creditors. The problem, besides the obvious, is that the people that hold the keys to the executive washrooms have given themselves bonuses in the midst of laying off thousands of workers without a severance package.

Companies usually pay bonuses as an incentive to do good work, or they are paid as a consideration for a job well done. Leading a company to bankruptcy is not the definition of good work or a job well done. If the average worker does not perform well, he or she could see a decrease in the amount they receive as a bonus or no bonus at all. If an executive does not perform well, why is it that he or she be allowed to get a bonus? If everyone rewarded incompetence, our nation would go broke. It does not make sense.

We have seen this scenario before, most infamously with the collapse of the housing market started by our neighbours to the south, which had a devastating ripple effect throughout the world. In that case, bank executives, charged with fraud over the subprime mortgage fiasco, were still given millions in bonuses. Many of these companies (and don’t doubt for one second that banks are not companies in business to make a profit) say they need to pay out bonuses to executives to get or retain the best executive staff. How can these people be the best at anything when they are in effect the worst the world has to offer? What Sears Canada is doing to its employees and former employees is morally reprehensible. They happily walk away with their bonuses acutely aware that people at their feet are drowning.

These bonuses are not a paltry amount either. In the case of Sears Canada, 43 executives and senior managers and 116 general managers will receive $9.2 million dollars for leading the company to bankruptcy. Good Job! That is an average of just over $57,800 for each person if Sears distributes that amount equally. The truth of the matter is no matter how the company distributes the money it is people within the upper echelons of the corporation who will receive the benefit; no clerk, cashier, or sales associate will see a penny.

If Sears Canada had chosen to distribute these funds to all concerned, including the 2,900 employees currently on the chopping block, they would each get about $3007 each; that is certainly enough to tide most people over until they work out their next move. I am also positive that if Sears Canada had taken this route, they would have more than enough employees to work throughout the “transition” – a euphemism for the state of bankruptcy the company has found itself.

Managers and executives complain when Millennials quickly move on to their next job, screaming, “There is no loyalty anymore!” Perhaps Millennials have it right. Look what dedication has brought the employees of Sears and other companies who see fit to put their loyal and dedicated employees through the ringer without a second glance.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see that this is not the way to ensure employee loyalty and retention. The 65-year-old company has a reputation of standing behind every product they sell. The company executives and management should also support and stand behind their employees by paying their severance packages; it would be the right thing to do.

Flight Attendants Wanted

Canada-Oxygen

There is something to be said for taking care of yourself before others. At least airlines have this right. “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” On a personal level, many of us struggle to put us first. On a governmental level, however, this should be the norm.

I understand the difficulties of running a country must be seemingly insurmountable. People who have been wronged need to be helped. People facing crisis need to be helped. Decisions must be made on how best to hand out funding. The number of people and groups asking for financial aid is not small, and there needs to be some kind of prioritising and safeguards put in place to ensure our tax dollars do not fall into the wrong hands.

The question of whose hands are the right hands is seemingly difficult. All Canadian governments of all stripes have missed the mark, but it does not have to be that way. That question should not be difficult at all. At the risk of sounding a bit like a certain American president, who shall remain unnamed, I would put forth that any, if not most of the funding should go to helping Canadians first.

We have a long history helping other countries when called upon. We do this because we are a nation of givers, helpers and humanitarians. Helping others is entrenched in our Canadian DNA. One does not have to go outside of our borders to see what Canadians are capable of. From the train derailment in Lac Magantic, Quebec to the Fort MacMurray, Alberta forest fires, we have seen Canadians come together to aid their fellow neighbour. Even complete strangers who needed food and shelter during a massive American airplane diversion to Gander, Newfoundland in the days of 9/11 were greeted with open arms. It did not matter if you were rich, poor, or what nationality you were, you were helped, no questions asked.

As a fellow Canadian, I have no issue with helping other people of other nations. I do question helping other nations when there is so much wrong here. I am not saying to close the doors to refugees or to aid other countries. I am saying other nations can only be best served when a country’s own financial responsibilities to its constituents are met first. This does not mean Canada becomes a socialist state – far from it – this means that a nation with a healthy, prosperous population is always better equipped to help others in need.

It is true that Canada’s track record on foreign-aid spending in comparison to other countries like Sweden, Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Norway is not that great. In fact, according to an annual report from Global Canada, Canada is in last place, but there is no requirement that Canada must keep up with the Joneses in foreign-aid spending. When you are talking about billions of dollars spent in someone else’s back yard when so many of your own citizens are struggling for all kinds of reasons to make ends meet, there is something wrong. I believe the majority, if not all, of those billions of dollars, could be better spent at home before helping people from other countries.

I do not come to this lightly or easily. I have always thought that helping others no matter where they are from was the right thing to do. I still believe this. However, because there seems to be a disconnect between our government and all people that desperately, and clearly need help right here in Canada, I question our government’s priorities when spending on humanitarian projects. There are certainly many other human issues our country could deal with before they look to help other countries in need.

Just a few questions to ponder: Why must our military veterans beg and plead to get the help they need? If someone has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and asks for help, why is it so difficult to get it to him or her? Why is it that entire villages in Canada in 2017 don’t have clean drinking water? Why is it that when a railway line is cut off due to flooding, an entire northern city and points beyond cannot get assistance to repair said line so that the flow of food and necessities are not hampered by delays that could cause death? Why is it that so many senior citizens, who have worked and paid into government coffers, are struggling and living below the poverty line? Why do disabled people have to wade through a myriad of red tape to get any assistance benefits?

Does not our government realise that these types of worries can cause undue stress and perpetuate other disastrous and chronic health problems which create a domino effect where our already taxed health care system takes more hits? Sick and poor people cannot help a country’s economy. If the disabled and seniors are left to live with benefits that securely places them below the poverty line, how can this help anyone?

Part of the problem, I believe, is bureaucratic red tape. Must we pay millions of dollars every year to have tribunals, public inquiries, Senate hearings, studies to make recommendations that are obvious to everyone? I do not think it would be too difficult to ensure that benefits for the most vulnerable of our population; our seniors, our sick and poor should be enough do not leave them in an impoverished state. I understand the need to ensure value, but when the need is blatant, any study is a waste of money.

Decisions need to be made quicker. We must stop ignoring the problems we face in our own society, and help our own people before we can step forward to help other nations. Perhaps Canada should hire their own flight attendants? I’m sure they’d be saying something to the effect of ‘Put on your oxygen mask, Canada. Save yourself first.’