The Price of Loyalty

Last month one of the counselors went to put fuel in one of the Pet Camp Express Vehicles.  Unfortunately, she put regular gasoline into our diesel vehicle and then proceeded to drive it to do all her morning pick-ups and drop offs.  The damage was extensive – $8,000 extensive!  The question then became what to do with this employee.

Let’s start with my position – wtf!  She did what?  It’s going to cost how much to fix?  Tell her goodbye!
I then took a deep breath, reached for the bottle of vodka in my personal freezer (don’t I wish) and asked the managers what they thought we should do.  They correctly pointed out that this was not the first mistake anyone had ever made at Pet Camp (though they did acknowledge that this might be one of the most expensive ones), that she did admit to the error as soon as she realized it (which unfortunately was after she had driven the vehicle for a while and was submitting the fuel receipt), and that as a company we didn’t want employees to think if they made a mistake they would be fired.  They thought that some action was necessary and suggested a two-week suspension.

I spent a day or so thinking about their arguments, and of course, they were right.  Pretty much everyone at Pet Camp, yours truly included, has made a mistake.  This mistake, while expensive, didn’t impact the health or safety of a camper or even customer service.  I decided that a one-week suspension would send the message of how upset I was about this error, hit her financially without breaking the bank, and acknowledge the critical feedback the managers had provided.

To say that the counselor was relieved to have kept her job is an understatement.  When told about the suspension, rather than being upset about losing a week’s pay, she thanked her manager for letting her keep her job.  She clearly knew how upset I was since she told her manager that she wanted to thank me too, but wanted to let some time pass.  Well, time has passed, and the other day she saw me and thanked me for letting her stay at Pet Camp, expressed how pleased she was to be able to work at Pet Camp, how grateful she was to everyone who advocated for her to keep her job and how she would do everything she could to make sure we knew we had made the right decision in keeping her as a Pet Camp counselor.

Did we make the right decision?  There’s no denying that $8,000 is a significant hit on our bottom line, but what’s the long-term value of keeping a good and loyal counselor?  Guess only time will tell.

Thanks for reading.