Thursday, August 19, 2010

Insomniac Thoughts

This is mainly fueled by something a friend is experiencing and it got me to thinking. I think it is very interesting how employers expect their employees to work hard, to go the extra mile, to provide excellent customer service, show up early, stay late, work overtime, sacrifice time with your family, friends, loved ones, be on-call, work weekends and holidays.... give, give, give... and they think that they can just take and take and never worry about giving their employees the chance to recharge and find subtle ways to punish people who take time off or are punitive to those who fall ill after putting in long hours.

I am all for putting in a good day's work and receiving a fair paycheck for that work. I am all for going the extra mile and providing excellent customer service. I'll take my lumps when I deserve them and once in a while, even when I don't. I show up early, I stay late, I work weekends but it is very, very rarely that I receive even a "well done" or a "thank you" much less any sort of real, tangible appreciation when I go above and beyond what is expected or even what is reasonable.

Is it really reasonable to have an employee be "on-call" for a week at a time when that means they will easily work 60-80 hours (or more) during the on-call week and then have to work their regular 40 hour week afterwards which puts them "on the job" for 12 days in a row? Factor in a call at, say, 1AM which keeps the employee out until 3AM and then they return home, get three hours of sleep (if they are lucky) and need to get up and get back to the job. Is that wise? Is that safe? Are we really looking at the best interests of ANYONE in that scenario?

Maybe this all made sense back in the days when people got a job after they left school (high school or college) and stayed with the company for 35-40 years. When companies had some loyalty to their employees. When your boss knew your name and your spouse's name and the names of all of your children. And your kid got a nice pen & pencil set from your boss when s/he graduated from High School.

But now? Now it feels like employees are a commodity. Use them up and discard them as quickly as you can and then gripe about all of the money you have to spend on training and how hard it is to find good help. Don't think twice about telling the employee whose Grandfather passes away that if she goes to the funeral, you'll consider it "job abandonment" and not to bother coming back if she leaves. Don't come right out and ask a woman if she has kids or a husband (because that isn't LEGAL) but hide the question by asking "So, if at five minutes to five we ask you to stay an extra hour or two, is that an issue?" Penalize the people who had no choice but to join the workforce after high school who were, at the time, told that what was important was work experience and now, 20 years later, the only thing that matters is whether they have a degree (which they don't). I understand that a college education can be a wonderful thing, but there's something to be said for 20 years of experience, too.

And if you asked them, the employers, how their employees feel about them and their company, most would be surprised to know that their employees feel shortchanged. I suspect most would not care. Employees are a "resource" to be allocated and discarded. You think no more of dismissing an employee than you do of throwing out a pen that has run out of ink.

The well has run dry. As my friend says... "all of the Care has been dredged from Giveafuck Bay"... I can only hope that something that resembles balance can be found/achieved again.

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