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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Employee & Employer: A Relationship

As a working stiff I am sometimes all too often discouraged by the relationship between the employee and the employer. After some time being a common Joe holding down an hourly paid job, and after my fair share of working in a number of fields, I began to see and believe that I wasn't just working a job, but that I was a part of the business as a whole. I liked that ideal, and it served to inspire me to do more than just the minimum required of me. I felt both empowered and obligated to try and do more in my work, to help in the success of those I worked for, and with the realization that I was helping myself to succeed further at the same time. It was a relationship of give and take, and it still is, but more and more it seems those on the lower rungs of this network are treated for less than they are, for less than what they are bringing to the business they are working for. I feel this often, and it is increasingly demeaning and unsatisfying. I know I am not alone.

A poll posting on shows just 45% of the American workforce are happy with their job, that's less than half! What a huge number. The polling covered many questions like commuting, health care coverage, opportunity for growth and advancement, and even whether or not they liked their boss/bosses. 51% say they are satisfied with their boss. That's down from 55 % in 2008 and around 60 % two decades ago.

The economy has a lot to do with these sentiments of course, but it has also been a long time coming. Right now business in America is having to rethink and reshape itself to push through these hard times, and for the most part it seems this reshaping and rethinking has most to do with how to market and maintain profit; after all, the reason so many are out of work is because companies need to cut costs to maintain profit, only adding more fuel to the fire of the recession.

I never really knew before, but by law a company is protected and enjoys the same rights as an individual. So when we think about the relationship between employees, and those who run a business, which is often more than a single person, it isn't just about a worker and business, again it is a relationship.

Like all relationships there has to be mutual respect and there has to be compromise, for that relationship to succeed and grow and be sustained. Unfortunately that's not always the case between the employee and employer, it seems to me to be quite one-sided too often. This is where unions came into being, to protect the workers, because business in general was acting like a lord of the land, and its employees the surfs. I am a proponent for unions, but like most other things in the world even it is susceptible to failings.

It seems to me that in rethinking business strategy for the times, more thought would be put into the relationship between employee and employer. Now, I am sure there are plenty of businesses and bosses out there who have, and are a model for my perspective, but again only 45% of America is saying that they like their job.

In my own experiences, from which I draw upon for these perspective pieces far more than polls or wikki-research, the employer to me is most often like that needy and selfish girlfriend or boyfriend we have probably all experienced in life. To them the relationship is all about what they are getting out of it, and I too realize that are more than the fair share of employees who are of the same mindset. Its always a two-way street.

I have worked under management and owners who seem to stylize themselves like a dictator, because they are in charge, calling the shots, having power over others. I've never understood the thought process of these individuals, why they think it's okay and productive to act as if they rule over others in the workplace? Of course they have a job themselves to do, and if the boss is the business owner, they have a lot riding on the success of the business, but that doesn't excuse them to treat those under them as less than who they are, Humans firstly, and a part of the success of the business.

I've often joked about organizing a walk out, so that for once and for all, those kinds of employers can stand there with their jaw to the floor, and I can ask, "What are you the manager of now? Go bark to the broom and see how well it listens. Shake your fist at the computer and see how well it works for you. Since we are not so important and valued, we are just going to go home and let things run themselves..." It would be a great sight. I envy those in unions, that can protest in such ways. The power of many over the one. As an individual I cannot just walk off and protest; I would just be fired and replaced, and the message would be moot. And I don't just make a complaint and point the finger away myself; I take responsibility for myself and my position.

To end that cycle, I believe that employers must rethink the way they manage those who work for the success of the business. Employers are not just managing people and a business for the making of profit, it is part of their duty to instill interest and value in the workplace, to promote positivity rather than the negativity of do this or I will replace you. They are supposed to foster their staff to encourage productivity rather than just expectation. In a lot of ways it is like parenting, where you are nurturing for the good, for the future. It is a relationship, both sides have to come to terms, not just one.

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