October 15, 2010

Disliking your job? Well, you’re not alone

Blog, I know you don’t dislike your job, because I’m such an awesome boss! LOL But seriously, folks, everywhere I go lately, I seem to be hearing people complaining about their jobs. Is job dissatisfaction more of an issue these days than usual? I think so.

Firstly I’d like to speak on behalf of my fellow American workers--yes, we do know that we enjoy good pay, benefits and working conditions by the standards of many countries on Planet Earth, and we don’t mean to ignore that fact. Still, I think we are right to be upset at some of the trends affecting the workforce in the U.S. of A.

What I’m hearing here is complaints about salary stagnation or cuts, benefits reductions, and an overall decline in rewards for our work. I’ve heard of companies that require long hours and increased workload of their employees, rather than adding staff or rehiring those who were let go. I’ve heard of businesses that hire temp-to-perm, only to keep staff at the temp level indefinitely to avoid having to pay them benefits.

My theory as to why this is happening is not rocket science: Used to be that when you felt ill-treated by an employer, you looked for a different, better job. I’ve done that myself a couple of times. After a couple of weeks or months, you nailed down the new position and handed your icky employer a resignation letter. With some smug self-satisfaction, I might add.

But not so in 2010. The unemployment situation being what it is, there are just not that many jobs. And those that exist, are offered at salaries below what used to be appropriate--and therefore below what you’re earning now, possibly even with that pay cut you took in 2009. The benefits are lower everywhere, the perks harder to find. And if you do risk temp-to-perm, you may go benefit-less for longer than you ever suspected.

In real estate, you call it a buyer’s market: devalued properties eager to be bought. In the world of employment, it’s an employer’s market. And it seems a lot of employers are taking advantage of it without the slightest shame.

Raise your hand if you’re ready to punch the next person who says “Be glad you have a job!” As much compassion as I’m sure we all feel for the unemployed, we can’t be expected to be happy about what’s happening to the employed. Suddenly it seems that employers have license to take as much advantage of workers as they want, since after all, we should all just be glad we have jobs.

What we see is an economy that really seems to be recovering. We see the companies we work for reporting sales comparable to and even above what they achieved in the boom days. We see economic indicators improving. And all we ask is if we could all be reset to the way it was before things took a dive...we don’t even expect to get back the raises and bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments we missed out on.

Unfortunately, by not doing that, employers can pad their bottom lines even more. (And dare I say, increase certain key salaries.) It’s looking like ethics and genuine human compassion are not motivational enough to many businesses, so they take advantage of the situation because they can.

Those who know me know I am totally a proponent of free-market capitalism. And those not so enamored of capitalism will tell me, “See, here’s what happens in this system you love so much! Bwahaha!” Yeah, I get that what’s going on is partly inherent in capitalism.

But you know what? There’s another principle that occurs in free-market capitalism: You get what you pay for. And if what I hear on the street is any indication, the employees’ response to

“Be glad you have a job”


“Okay, I’m only going to work hard enough to keep from being fired.”

What businesses get in return for their attitude is bad morale, which leads to lower productivity, mistakes, and eventually, a failing business.

American workers as a group generally have pride in their work performance, and what I see happening even now is people working harder, putting up with the situation, grinning and bearing it. But eventually even the most dedicated employees crack if they feel they are being consistently taken advantage of. Their new focus will be on determining just how little they have to care to keep their job, and they will strive for that benchmark instead of doing their all to help their companies succeed and thrive.

The recession was scary, and we all had to make sacrifices. But if the powerful expect to reap the benefits of recovery while their underlings continue to sacrifice, they will eventually get their comeuppance. Jobs are coming back, and American workers won’t forget which companies treated them fairly in the aftermath of the recession and which did not. In a free market, the good employees do find their way to the good employers, and they will do that again.

So that’s my little manifesto, Blog...wow, I felt like Che Guevara or something for a minute there! I want to close on a more positive note: To those employers who treated your employees well during this time when you could have gotten away with less (and you know who you are), thank you! Here’s to your huge success in 2011! And please send me your names, I have a lot of friends looking for new jobs. :-)


  1. "You get what you pay for." How true that is. It's OK for a company to make a profit, but when good employees are not allowed to share in the profit that their work brought forth, it's a taint that eventually poisons the whole operation.

    Time and time again, it's the companies that treat their people right who enjoy the longest-term success. Thanks for posting this, Diane!

  2. You're welcome, and thank YOU, Jennie. You summed up my thoughts nicely.