by Colleen Donahue
My dad loved his job as an electrical engineer with the Bell Telephone Company. He always spoke highly of the company. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice all the nights he sat at the kitchen table poring over complex plans to get phone lines into rural areas of Minnesota where we lived. Mom said he was often working until midnight or later. He gave all that he had to do his work well and in doing so he helped to make the company successful.
Now, what makes someone give their all to make someone else successful? I believe first of all it was Dad’s own integrity. He was the kind of guy that gave all he had to the things he had been given in life. He turned down many promotions so he could have the time he needed to be a good dad to us.
Secondly, he loved the work. Engineering phone lines were like solving a puzzle so that people’s lives could be better in the rural areas. They would be able to communicate and that brought him great satisfaction.
But there was a third reason, not quite as obvious, that played a factor in his wanting Bell Telephone to be a success. As a company in those days the Bell Telephone valued their employees. To show how much they valued men and women like my dad they gave generous salaries, medical coverage and retirement packages. Dad knew that he and his family were cared for and he was grateful – so grateful that he applied his mind diligently to doing the best he could. If Bell was successful then Dad would be successful. He had to be one of their most loyal employees.
Dad often quoted to us kids, “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” I doubt he knew that was from the Bible. He had seen this happen through his employment at Bell Telephone and it stayed with him all his life. He knew that they treated their people well.
As with so many companies, things began changing in his later years of working for Bell. They were looking for ways to cut costs and that started with the withdrawal of good benefits to the employees. They still offered some benefits but not the kind that Dad received. Dad witnessed the whole attitude of the company change until it was no longer fun to go to work. He decided to take the earliest retirement that he could. When he left he found out that they replaced him with three full time employees!
Was “doing unto others” a good business plan? You can be the judge: 1 loyal employee (Dad) that gave 110% with good salary and benefits vs. 3 full time employees with mediocre benefits and salaries and probably little to no loyalty. I believe the truth in The Golden Rule, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you”, (Matthew 7:12) is not only the right thing to do but it makes good business sense for the employers who practice it.
Go to Table of Contents