Employers Might Be Winning Now, But That Will Change

Since my job has so much down time, I realized I had to find ways to deal with it so that I won’t spend hours there torturing myself by looking at the time every 2 minutes. I really do not want to get accustomed to doing very little on the job, because I know I won’t be at this place for years and years. And I don’t want to get used to sitting at work, surfing the internet. But this is pretty much what is happening–I’m using the internet to pass the time in between calls.

I love sports–particularly football (American) and basketball–but there’s only so much sports news, articles and opinions I can take. So, I have started reading blogs. Today, I found this one post that instantly gave me a blog topic. I have read so many articles and blog posts online that show a vast difference between the way employers and the people who do their dirty work–managers, supervisors and the like–think and the way employees think. This is even more true when you get down to new-school workers, i.e. people who are recent graduates entering the workforce or only in the workforce full time for a few years at best.

The link above is yet another ridiculous piece that seems to be coming from the point of view of the enemy. It is a more narrow version of things I’ve read, as the primary example is about some dumb kid who thought not having soy milk was a serious issue, leading to a post that many perceive to be about employees having issues with perks. I really don’t care about perks, for the most part. I certainly miss having water coolers at work, which I had at my last job but don’t have at my new job. My new job has sodas, but you have to pay for them. That would be fine (except the paying part) because I love soda, but I have gotten into the habit of not drinking soda unless I can also have water to kind of offset/balance out having soda and/or to wash the sugary taste away. It’s kind of ridiculous to me that they have soda and not soda and water, but, then again, this is the South and as a region we haven’t at all reached the point that the rest of the US seems to be getting to in terms of seeing anything wrong with sitting around drinking sugar all day. Obviously, I hadn’t planned to say anything to anybody about this.

I also don’t particularly care about benefits, either, but I also don’t have children. This is something that I see as perfectly reasonable to worry about and maybe even expect if you are married with kids. I know that all my life I had been led to believe that jobs pretty much were supposed to offer benefits, and my parents act as if a job not offering benefits should be a dealbreaker.

My issue with pieces like this is the section of the post in which the author goes into “more blunders by new employees.” This section reminded me of my last job. Do you know how I left my last job? I quit. If it weren’t for my parents, I would have quit months before I did, and I would have quit without another job lined up. But I got fed up to the point where I stopped saying to myself and fellow co-workers who also hated working there that I need to get another job…and got another job. I got the call from my current employer on a Thursday afternoon as I was leaving work, and I walked into work the very next day, quit and didn’t return.

Here’s the rundown using that blog post:

Constant Overtime

I didn’t work constant overtime. We had peak seasons when we knew we’d have to work 12+ hours a day, maybe 10 hours on Friday if we were lucky. The job was advertised this way, so that was fine. The ad basically said we’d work 12 hours/day during peak times and then work around 8 hours/day otherwise. To me, if you’re told from the get-go that you will work a lot of overtime and you take the job, then you can’t complain. It looked good to me because, relatively speaking, my pay already was decent for where I live and overtime really was going to make it good.

What I came to have a problem with is the back and forth between overtime and barely getting 30 hours–peak time or not–plus never knowing what time I’d get off work and the start time changing sporadically. None of this was expected. The overtime was advertised as something similar to, “You’ll work from 5:45am to 5:45pm.” This is not what was going on. Except for one short-lived experiment, there was never a time through my entire employment there when I knew exactly when I’d get off work. Plus, we’d start work at 5:30am for a while and then they’d inform us on Friday, “From now on, your start time will be 6:30.” And then maybe a couple of months later, “From now on, your start time will be 6am.”

Exceptionally Late/Weekend Overtime

Long story short, the answer was no. They didn’t require us to do these things, but we could and they would ask. Uh…no. Especially during football season. Whasamattawitu? Ubettagonesumwhere!

Understanding Your Job (or Not)

Your job is what you are asked to do by your boss. This could include learning new software or assuming duties that not part of your original job description. While this can be frustrating, it is not uncommon.  What can be frustrating is that you are now evaluated on new skills which you may not be your strength. If you realize that you are not able to handle the new demands of the company including new skill sets but also perhaps mandatory overtime or required business travel, update your resume and seek employment elsewhere. 

What’s the point of job ads describing positions and duties, then, especially since most employers don’t say up front that the description might change or isn’t all-inclusive? Does it make sense that employers can lure you in by telling you that you’ll be doing ABC and then you end up either having to do XYZ or quit? Why, then, can’t we send in resumes with a degree from Harvard and CEO experience at a fortune 500, then show up at work and inform the employer, “Oh, I actually didn’t finish college, and I’ve only worked in fast food joints until now–deal with it”? Why does the fit have to be right for the employer but not for the employee?

When I had my job completely changed at my last place of employment, I tolerated that job for my parents before I exploded two months later and told my manager and supervisor that I would quit if I wasn’t going to be doing what I accepted a job with them to do. Although I got my way and my supervisor all but begged me not to quit, I was just completely done with that place (for more reasons than just what’s mentioned here) and nothing could have changed that. I had an entire week off before I started my new job, and that was the happiest I’d been in a long time.

Why Employers With This Mindset Will Lose

For one thing, as I said, there’s a difference between someone coming into a situation knowing what’s up and then whining, and coming into a situation having been told one thing and then everything’s changing. Telling someone, “If you don’t like it, get another job”–that’s not the answer, especially if you’re misleading everyone or thinking you have the right to change things whenever you want. An employer might think most people are going to deal with it, but, whether the economy gets better or not, this is going to cause quite a bit of turnover. Who does turnover hurt? On top of that, the employees who stay who thought they were getting certain hours and that turns out to not be true…well, they’re going to be unhappy employees. Unhappy employees make crappy employees more often than not. So, what this employer has is employees leaving and employees staying but unhappy and unmotivated. Again, who is really hurt?

This is exactly what my last job was like. I didn’t know anyone who liked working there, and when I quit it had reached the point where a lot of people were either leaving or applying for other jobs. And the majority of people leaving were the really good employees. But the enemy was always either whining about us, whining about the work production and standards, or trying to figure out how to motivate us. They couldn’t figure out the relationship. Also, the two things the majority of us wanted–better work-life balance and more money–were, according to them, the two things they couldn’t give us. They felt there was no way they could give us a more normal work schedule or even the 5:45-5:45 many of us were told when we were first hired–we had to stay until the work was done. I mainly wanted to be able to know what time I’d get off work on a regular basis. I’ve got that at my new job.

Young workers nowadays don’t put up with crap, either. Personality-wise, I’m a little more of a cross between old-school workers and new-school workers. But I know that new-school workers not wanting to deal with overtime, changing job duties, jobs that don’t make them happy and many other issues is not always about a sense of entitlement. New schoolers just don’t have as much of a reason to stick with a job they don’t care for, unlike old schoolers. A lot of young people today are not getting married and having kids in their 20s, like me. And many of us can live with our parents, like me. The only reason I need a job is because of student loans–and, frankly, my parents would pay those, too. Although I owe a ridiculous amount in student loans, the fact that this is my only concern allows me the flexibility to look at jobs that pay a lot of money but carry a lot of stress or would make me miserable and take a pass. I did that with practicing law, although that was also at least somewhat about not being able to get a job in that field. I think had I gotten a job in that back in 2008, I would not be practicing today anyway because I would have hated it and would have seen no reason to keep putting up with something I hate.

My parents always take my tax information to their preparer and have my taxes done for me. They told me that the preparer looked at the amount of money I made from my last job and commented that I make good money (which is only good money relative to the kinds of people who live in my area). But I took a job making less money than I made there in order to get away from the stressful, maddening environment. And the money I make is enough. Each month, I can basically take one paycheck and pay student loans, then take the other one and buy a geek gadget with plenty of money left over. Being happy matters more to new schoolers than money or anything else does.

I also didn’t even make it to a full year at my last job. In fact, I’ve only stayed at one full-time job for more than a year–a year and two months.

This is the new normal, which is another reason why employers are only hurting themselves if they approach employees with an “if you don’t like it, quit” attitude.  New schoolers will quit. They’ll work two months and quit. In fact, they’ll work one day and quit. If I were more like a new schooler, I’d have quit this new job by now because it’s boring, some of the clients are jackasses, I don’t like feeling like a receptionist when I am supposed to be a tech geek, it’s not exactly what I expected and I’d rather work part time–oooh, five whole reasons to quit. And this is becoming so normal that many employers are fine if you’ve only worked somewhere for a year or two before interviewing with them. That would look bad back in the day, but not so much anymore.

The thing is we’re going to get to the point where new schoolers outnumber every other type of employee. This culture of leaving jobs if they don’t like a good bit of what’s going on there will continue to take over. That’s going to mean that if employers want more retention–especially of the best employees, whom I recently read are the most likely to leave jobs when unhappy–better long-term workers and to spend less money on hiring/training newbies, they’re going to have to get down from that power-trip throne they’ve been on since this latest recession officially began.

Employers are going to have to start caring that employees want a life away from their jobs and want to be happy at their jobs when they’re at work…or else their precious bottom lines will suffer.


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