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Zeynep Ton is a Professor of Operations Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
She studies the retail sector and the way that some firms have invested in paying more and doing more for their workers. She studied firms like QuikTrip, Trader Joes, Mercador in Spain – she found that firms that treat their workers better achieve better results.
It’s no secret that the labor market is tough these days. But the issue isn’t just the number of people who are unemployed. It’s also income inequality and the low pay of retail employees that’s concerning. Retail employees represent close to 20% of the U.S. workforce.
In retail, conventional wisdom holds that if you want to offer the best prices then you can’t afford to invest in your employees. Typical retail workers receive minimal training, irregular hours, and no benefits for part-timers. Turnover is high with understaffing common.
Wages are so low that retail workers tend to rely more on public assistance than workers in other industries. If companies actually invested in their employees by offering better jobs, many of these people could move into the middle class, which is critical in our economy.
My new book,* Parenting Your Child with Autism, is, in many ways, the book I wish I’d received all those years ago when my oldest son was first diagnosed. In the ten years since then, I’ve come to realize that my MIT training in science and management can help parents of children with autism. My co-author, Dr. Blaise Aguirre, and I packed this book with information and advice that we think will help parents choose the right treatments, educational approaches, and developmental goals for their child.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: parenting a child with autism will never be easy. Even with our book in hand, parents will still struggle with making tough choices amid incomplete information, limited funds and time to try new and different things, and not enough sleep.