Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Employers Have Benefited From Unemployment

There was a time in America when you could settle in, work on a stable job with great benefits for 20-25 years, build up a nice pension, and or 401k cushion, and retire comfortably. My parents did it, my in-laws did, and several other family members have done it. They were all able to provide nice homes and good lives for themselves, and their families with little or no concern for job security, because they knew that as long as they came to work and put in a hard 8. Their jobs would always be theirs. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and those kinds of jobs are few and far between.
Today's employment landscape, and culture have changed considerably within the last 5-6 years due to the economic down turn. In 2009 the unemployment rate hit 10.2% which was the highest it had been in 26 years. Although there has been talk of a slow recovery, millions of Americans are still struggling to find their footing, and those who once relied on job security have often found themselves back to square 1.
Given the fact that so many people are without gainful employment, it may seem a little ungrateful for those of us who are, to gripe about our working conditions. But the fact of the matter is that simply being one of the "lucky" few who are employed is a perilous adventure fraught with uncertainty. The high rate of unemployment has given many employers the ability to choose from a large pool of desperate applicants. This new found advantage has given some employers the opportunity to not only pick and choose from a huge demographic, but it has also given them the opportunity to create an interchangeable work force. A work force in which current employees are no longer viewed as a commodity or a valued contributor to an organization, but as tight rope walkers who are forced to balance the agenda of the organization with complete loyalty in the face of danger. One slip, and their employment may meet a fatal conclusion. Some organizations have cut salaries, while others have drastically increased the work loads of their employees. There have even been stories of loyal long term employees who have been terminated, in favor of new hires at a lower pay grade.
There was once a common dilemma that was often discussed , "How do I ask my boss for a raise?" But these days I don't know many people who would dare ask for a salary increase. Having the sheer audacity to ask for what you deserve may be viewed as insubordination, insurrection, and initiate ideas for your replacement.
A friend of mine told me about a meeting at his office the other day in which a gregarious co-worker directly questioned his supervisors intentions. The supervisor was quoted as saying, "This is your job. if you don't like it, you don't have to work here!" This particular manager then pretended to realize that his remark, was crass an insulting. But according to my associate his behavior seemed deliberate, and focused on the collective. Meaning, he used the opportunity to send a message to all 11 employees in attendance. His sentiments, though rarely heard, seem to represent a new way of doing business for many organizations. A model that is far more profit driven, than people driven. But it helps to remember that God is still in control!


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