Beth Isreal or Hyatt?

In What goes around Kevin Cullen tells the story of Beth Israel Deaconess holding internal town meetings, and coming up with a way not to fire or outsource housekeepers and other low wage earners.  Higher paid staff decided to forego raises and some benefits.  As a result, 600 employees kept their jobs and Paul Levy, the head of Beth Israel Deaconess received at least 3600 suggestions – and took some of them.

What happened?

And now tbhis news:  The foregone raises will be restored in April.  “I asked our staff, if we start doing better, what do you want back first?” Levyh said, “We did a poll, and they wanted salaries restored.”  Beyond good intentions, the transparency of the process made it work.

As one employee is quoted as saying:

…Hartsough knew she and her co-workers made the right decision.  “I had never worked in a place where these things were discussed so openly,” she said, “for me, the most rewarding part has been the sense of everyone pulling together, of having our values tested and seeing how we reaced as a community, so that we can live out those values of generosity and compassion.”  When she walks the long polished corridors, she looks at her co-workers differently.  She’s proud of them and to be one of them.  “We’re walking our talk,” Hartsough said.

Very different from another story on the same page, Police to lay off civilian liaisons in which there is no mention of an open process, asking employees for solutions, or any efforts to save these jobs.  Are these liaisons valuable?  Well:

Nine of 10 civilian liaison positions will be eliminated in September when funding for the jobs runs out.  The loss of the liaisons, some of whom have been in the department more than 15 years alarmed community leaders who have come to rely on them to help facilitate gang truces, aid domestic abuse victims, and act as go-betweens for immigrants who don’t speak English or are afraid to approach police.

What if the Beth Israel Deaconess approach was taken, instead?  What if Hyatt had taken the Beth Israel approach rather than outsourcing?  What about Woods Hole’s Marine Biological Labs?

What if the Boston Police Department’s employees, like those at Beth Israel Deaconess, where given the change to protect and take care of one another, as we expect them to protect and take care of us?

When I voted for hope and change, I also voted for a new spirit of community, in place of the rich getting richer.  I hoped and even expected the kind of community and transparency that Kevin Cullen described at Beth Isreal Deaconess.  I still believe it would work, that together we can take care of one another, and moderate this economy.

My challenge to Boston is to avoid layoff of those liaisons by holding their own town meetings and coming up with solutions other than the obvious, knee jerk, “cut cut cut” that impoverishes everyone – and constitutes business as usual.

[Cross posted with BlueMassGroup]

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