The Ultimate Act of Employee Loyalty: Risking Your Job to Save Your CEO

I’m based outside of Boston, and the big news in these parts last week was the work stoppage by employees at Market Basket, a New England-wide, family owned, grocery store chain with more than 70 stores, 25,000 employees, and annual revenues around $4 billion.

So, what’s so unusual about a work stoppage among dissatisfied employees? In this case, several things:

  1. The protesting employees are fighting for their beloved CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas (called ATD by employees), who was fired last month in, basically, a family brawl.
  2. They are not unionized.
  3. Several of the employee protest leaders have been fired, yet they continue to fight on.

Employees reject new leadership

Of course, there’s more underlying all this.

Market Basket is famous for their low prices, yet they also pay employees at the top of the scale and offer excellent benefits. And the chain continues to grow, profitably.

Buried in the myriad news stories are employee concerns that, under new leadership (co-CEOs brought in from the outside, which is also a departure from a culture of hire-from-the-ranks), prices will be raised, benefits will be cut, and the chain will be prepped for sale. Employees don’t trust new leadership to put the best interests of the employees and the customers first.

That’s why employees – by the thousands – are rallying in protest, demanding nothing less than the reinstatement of ATD as CEO, saying they will work for no one else. Store shelves are emptying as new merchandise (especially perishable produce and meats) are being blocked from delivery. And employee messages of support are very publicly in the face of customers.

See these images from Twitter (right, and below).

What workers are saying

Even more telling are the statements from employees who are putting their livelihood on the line:Twitter2

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  • Employee Linda Kulis: “I am 100 percent sure I will lose my job but I’m committed to take a stand to support ADT. This is our company. We’ve all worked here. We’ve all built it. Together.”
  • Store Manager Chris Sturzo: “You have to work for this man to see. He is the greatest CEO in this country. I believe in him and want to work for him as long as I can. He is honorable and human.”

And then there as ATD’s response:

This is the first time I have commented publicly on the recent events at Market Basket. The success of Market Basket is the result of two things: a business model that works and the execution of it by a dedicated and impassioned team of associates. Their fierce loyalty to the company and its customers has always been deeply valued. In the final analysis, this is not about me. It is about the people who have proven their dedication over many years and should not have lost their jobs because of it. I urge that they be reinstated in the best interest of the company and our customers.”

ATD’s not asking for his job back. He’s asking for the jobs of the people who support him who were fired for their loyalty.

3 things you should ask yourself

Now think about your company, its culture, and your CEO and ask yourself:Twitter3

  1. Are you “fiercely loyal” to your company and your customers?
  2. Would you put your job on the line to save your CEO’s position?
  3. Would your CEO equally go to bat for you?

There are a lot of reasons I choose to work for Globoforce. That list above is just a few. Can you say the same?

This was originally published on the Recognize This! blog.

Facts and stats run through Lynette Silva’s veins. She uses her wealth of data and knowledge to help customers build strong business cases for the power of thanks to increase employee engagement, retention, productivity, and performance. In her role as senior recognition strategist and consultant at Globoforce (www.globoforce.com), she’s also a frequently requested speaker and session leader. Contact her at Lynette.silva@globoforce.com.

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