It is probable that most executives and employers do not know because they have not fully considered what this rapid ratio of change costs. This cost, of course, varies over a very wide range, according to the kind of work to be done and the class of employees. The sales manager of one organization told us that it cost his concern $3,000 to find, employ, train, and break-in to his work a new salesman. The employment manager of one of the largest corporations in the world in-forms us that it costs him $10,000 in actual money to replace the head of a department. The employment manager of a large factory employing people whose wages ran from $5 a week up, told us that the records of his department showed that it cost $70 to get the name of a departing employee off the payroll and to substitute thereon the name of a new permanent employee to take his place. But these are only costs that can be computed. There are other costs perhaps even greater, records of which never reach the accounting department or the employment department. Let us tell you a story:
Joe Lathrop, foreman of the finishing room, had a bad headache. It had been along toward the cool, clear dawn of that very morning when, having tearfully assured Mrs. Lathrop for the twentieth time that he had taken but “one li’l’ drink,” he sobbed himself to sleep. His ears still range disconcertingly with the stinging echoes of his wife’s all-too-frank and truthful portrayal of his character, disposition, parentage, and future prospects. His heart was still swollen and painful with the many things he would like to have said in reply had he not been deterred by valor’s better part. It was a relief to him, therefore, to take advantage of his monarchical prerogatives in the finishing department and give vent to his hot and acrid feelings.
With all his flaying irony and blundering invective, however, Joe Lathrop never for a moment lost sight of the fact that there were some men upon the finishing floor whom it was far better for him to let alone. With all his truculence, he was too good a politician to lay his tongue to the man tagged with an invisible, but none the less protective, tag of a man higher up. And so Joe Lathrop let loose his vials of wrath upon those whose continuance upon the payroll depended upon merit alone. One of these was Robinson.
Robinson had been finishing piano frames upon this floor for twenty months. He was a young married man, in good health, ambitious, faithful, loyal, skilful, and efficient. He was a man who worked far more with his brains than with his hands. He understood the principles of piano construction, and was, therefore, no rule-of-thumb man. He had studied his work and, as a result, had continually increased both its quantity and quality Robinson was not self-assertive, perhaps a little taciturn, but there was something about him which made people respect him. Over the dinner pails at noon there had been many a conjecture on the part of Robinson’s fellow-workers that he was in line for promotion and that he might be made assistant foreman at any time.