Asking staff whether they are happy working for their company should be pretty predictable. And it is. They are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them, especially not knowing to whom they are speaking. I regularly ask staff this question, particularly at Aldi and Woolworths and I watch their body language closely, mainly their facial expressions.
It was Professor Albert Mehrabian, an Armenian born in 1939 in Iran who is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, who conducted research into verbal and non-verbal communication and he became known for his 7 per cent, 38 per cent, 55 per cent rule. Otherwise known as the 3 V’s – verbal, vocal and visual.
- 7 per cent of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken
- 38 per cent of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the way the words are said (tone)
- 55 per cent of a message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression
Often the answer will include how long they have worked at the company – a certain pride shines through if the number is high.
I also look carefully at how the staff work and their speed and efficiency. This entirely unscientific research has revealed the following:
- Woolworths staff have generally worked there for longer than Aldi staff which is entirely predictable.
- Aldi staff move much faster, whether they are unpacking or walking.
- Woolworths staff are pleasant and happy to chat.
- Aldi staff are less inclined to chatter. They are not rude. They simply want to get back to work.
- Some Woolworths staff clearly shirk work – and try not to be observed.
- Aldi staff are generally younger.
- Aldi staff are generally slimmer than Woolworths staff (probably politically incorrect to raise this).
- Woolworths staff seem to reflect a certain job entitlement, probably due to some of the above observations.
- Aldi cashiers get to sit down but Woolworths checkout people have to stand.
In summary, Woolworths staff are friendly, move more slowly, are older and plumper and are not hungry for work. Conversely Aldi staff tend to be hasty, are younger, slimmer and display a thirst for work.
Although the models are quite different between the two companies, the above points to the expected efficiencies required to justify the lower prices charged at Aldi. Whether the number of staff at Woolworths will be sustainable will have to stand the test of time.