The recent JFK incident in which JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater had dramatically performed basically revealed how a disgruntled employee desperately “gave notice” by exiting via a JetBlue airplane emergency chute. This extreme and ridiculous behavior quickly became an identifiable sentiment amongst thousands of employees here and abroad. Following this incident, MSNBC.com conducted a poll which showed over 91,000 voters viewed Steven Slater as a hero versus 10% of voters who suggested he was an “idiot.” If this incident and the results of this poll, amongst many others, do not raise a red flag for leaders of organizations, then we can certainly expect many more creatively dramatic or other life threatening incidents to occur. From shootings to jumping out of airplanes, it’s no wonder mental professionals are super busy these days.
Clearly, leaders need to pay more attention to what is happening within their organizations. Leaders need to identify with their employees’ needs, as well as provide appropriate training for their executives, line managers, Human Resources, and supervisors to help identify brewing issues which may promote liable situations from occurring. That said there are many reasons why the level of employee frustration is rising amongst the American workforce. Aside from the stresses imposed by the economy, high unemployment rates, pay cuts, increased workloads, and most of all, lack of proper leadership, an influx of disturbing employee behavior will emerge if leaders don’t wake up and pay attention. What then? How do leaders and workers handle extreme unpredictable violence or outrageous employee behavior without jeopardizing innocent lives at the work place or other environment?
The bottom line is leaders need to provide avenues for employees to feel free to talk about their unhappiness or grievances within their organizations. Leaders need to build trust amongst their employees and management without having employees feel speaking up may result in terminations. Regardless, it is the responsibility of leaders and their management team to provide a safe and fair work environment for all employees. In the case of JetBlue’s recent debacle, I only hope there will be no Slater copycats out there who feel that because their personal and work lives are stressful, they can take matters into their own hands. Remember, there are much more appropriate and suitable ways to deal with your stress and/or quit your job. Leaders – wake up!
Wendy Oliveras is an entrepreneur, columnist, author, search consultant, and career planning and development advisor. She can be reached at either (201) 947-6662 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also visit her at http://www.twitter.com/wendyoliveras, http://www.linkedin/in/wendyoliveras, or http://www.oliverascoinc.com.
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