The store was packed as usual, and some customers could even be seen giving up and going home. I greeted the customers and went around to the back of the store. Carm-san was already there waiting for me.
“Did you wait long?” [Ryouma]
“No, you’re right on time. I was considering going out to greet you because of your curse.” [Carm]
“I see, sorry to worry you.” [Ryouma]
“Shall we go?” [Carm]
I went to the office with Carm-san, and he briefed me on the things that had transpired in my absence. No big problems came up in his report, and even the smaller ones have mostly been dealt with already. He can really be trusted. If there’s anything to be concerned about, it would be the work ethic of the new hires.
It wasn’t anything serious, though. At most they were just a bit too inattentive. It would be bad to allow them to develop a habit, but I believe it’s just a matter of time. It’s normal anyway since they’re just starting out.
“The store has only opened for about a year, but it’s flourishing thanks to your achievements during New Year. Everyone can also see that you have the duke’s backing now. Above all, our employees are treated well and our reputation is good, so people have a tendency to believe that they can achieve a stable life by getting hired at our store.” [Carm]
“This would have been unthinkable back when we first started.” [Ryouma]
I still remember the day when I tried to hire employees from the Merchant’s Guild, and the people that gathered for the interview left at once. At the time, my store didn’t have a reputation, and the boss was also a child – that is: me – so it couldn’t be helped.
But nowadays, people want to be employed at our store so badly that they would walk up to the reception desk and pitch themselves. To be honest, I didn’t think that our situation would improve so abruptly.
“Everything is still within our expectations, so there aren’t any problems. We’ve also already taken measures to deal with it, so let’s just watch for now.” [Ryouma]
“Yes. If you indirectly tell them to be more attentive, those willing to improve will immediately reflect and change. If they’re willing to learn, then we should also be willing to teach. I have plenty of experience in that regard from the Morgan Company, so just leave it to me.
The bigger problem would be if there are people that don’t want to improve. In such cases, we’ll have to conduct interviews and hand out warnings, and if there still aren’t any improvements, then we’ll have no choice but to let go of them.” [Carm]
“It’s unfortunate, but it can’t be helped. It’s one thing to be lacking, but it wouldn’t be profitable for us to keep people that have no intention of bettering themselves. After all, they will affect not only the quality of their own work but also their peers’.” [Ryouma]
I’ve seen plenty of those people back in my previous life – people that can’t do anything by themselves and always rely on others. Whether it’s as a student at a part-time job or an adult at a full-time job, they’re everywhere and come in all ages and genders. When people like that increase in number, the productivity drops, and they infect the atmosphere with their attitude.
As the saying goes, ‘one bad apple spoils the whole barrel…’ That’s not a nice thing to say to anyone, but it’s the truth. So in order to prevent a vicious cycle from starting, we have no choice but to pick out any rotten apple.
“Yes. I believe that talking to them and warning them beforehand is already plenty lenient.” [Carm]
“I’m not being particularly lenient, actually, but…” [Ryouma]
The laws of this country favor employers, so the ‘immediate termination’ that a Japanese might imagine from stories from the States could easily be done.
In Japan, the laws greatly favored the employees, and there were some drawbacks as a result of the excessively strict regulations. I’ve seen bosses in my previous life use ‘termination’ as a threat to control their subordinates, so while I don’t want to be strict, it’s scary to be too lenient too.
By the way, Americans don’t do ‘immediate terminations’ as frequently as Japanese people think. They have employment termination laws there too, so unjust termination has a high change of resulting in legal action. So while they can technically dismiss employees on the spot, they don’t and negotiate instead, sometimes even leading to a premium severance pay.
“Anyhow, interviews and warnings are important. Above all, it’s important to make it clear what ‘standard’ we’re looking for from our employees. Vague standards make for poor teaching, which make it harder for the employees to learn, and in turn lead to misunderstandings and meaningless arguments.” [Ryouma]
As important as explaining the standards demanded are, however, there’s no avoiding the risk of the dismissed employee making a ruckus and trying to throw mud at our reputation in an attempt to get back at us. In such cases, it’s crucial to appeal to the legitimacy of the termination by communicating the exact reasons for it, while also providing evidence of warnings previously issued and demands for improvements.
Prolonged disputes could worsen our reputation and also drain the employees of their strength, possibly leading to another employee being dismissed and a vicious cycle starting, then before anyone knows it, we have a toxic workplace. Yeah, I’m not having any of that. If the atmosphere in the store ends up that bad, I’ll just help the employees find a job elsewhere or give them a premium severance pay, then I’ll close the store.
“Please don’t make a face like that. I understand what you’re trying to achieve with your policies, and besides, you’ve already left the management of the store with me.” [Carm]
“Was it so obvious?” [Ryouma]
“The light left your eyes. In any case, we can just proceed as we’ve planned, right?” [Carm]
“Yes. I’m counting on you.” [Ryouma]
“Okay. Next, there’s a request from some of the employees… They want to use the materials you provided in regards to management policies to use as teaching material for the new employees.” [Carm]
“Are you talking about ‘that’?” [Ryouma]
I had written some documents when I delegated my position to Carm-san, but it was also meant for future branch managers. It included a guideline for store operations, as well as a short course on harassment to prevent toxic workplaces from forming. To be honest, I had no idea how effective such a thing could be, but I did make it seriously in hopes that it would at least have some impact.
However, it would also be problematic if the future managers were to be overly concerned with harassment and end up excessively considerate, and it’s not like my thoughts were absolute or anything. I know that people will interpret things different according to the common sense and custom of this country and the area where the branch is, so i would have been plenty happy if they just kept those guidelines in mind.
…Moreover, if I recall correctly, there were people that requested a copy before, only to end up crying from how unbearable it was to read. Carm-san also complained before when he skimmed through it once. Who would’ve thought that there would actually be people who would want such a thing? Have they lost their minds?
“It’s true that the stuff you wrote is depressing, but its contents, especially the first half, resonated with me and the other employees. I found it educational, and I learned what sort of interactions to be wary of.
The problem is that the examples grow more and more severe to the point that I can’t help but doubt the sanity of the superiors mentioned. For example, there was that ‘things to take note of in case you’re hit by a wine bottle.’ Why is the document presuming that someone is going to be hit by a wine bottle? And why are there descriptions so vivid it felt like it was written out of a grudge? In that regard, the document being easy to read and understand actually works against it.” [Carm]
Come to think of it, I did end up burning it several times with magic while thinking of examples… Did I accidentally curse it? I might not have intended to, but I was certainly full of grudge while writing it, and considering I’d burned it up several times while writing, I must have been leaking mana too. Could it be that that document is actually really dangerous?
“Carm-san, where is the original copy?” [Ryouma]
“It concerns the management of the store, so it’s being treated as confidential document and is being kept in the locked cabinet over there.” [Carm]
Upon saying that, Carm-san opened the cabinet and brought over a bundle of documents as thick as a comprehensive law book. Hmm… I can’t tell if it’s cursed. I’m not sensing anything from it akin to that stone that Remilie-san and I used for practice.
“It’s probably fine. I read both the original and the copies, and both were equally depressing. Those who read only the copies felt similar too.” [Carm]
“Hopefully, you’re right… Who are those people you’re referring to?” [Ryouma]
“All the employees when the store first opened. They were all able to understand why you treated your employees so well.” [Carm]
I couldn’t meet his gaze, but I could tell that he felt sorry for me.
I didn’t know what to say, so I just cast Dispel on the document and forcefully changed the topic, agreeing to grant their request and giving Carm-san the discretion to decide how much of the original to include in their teaching material. He’s handling the store well, so I’m sure he’ll know how to handle this matter too.