It’s 2014 finally and the economy is on a slow rise. Which means that more employers will be employing, and in turn means quitting one job for another will be on the rise also. Minimum wage is the new hot topic and people are demanding more money all over the nation. Employers are usually reactive as opposed to being proactive to this type of thing. I am certainly looking for my way out. This is an open letter of sorts to employers large and small in an attempt to help them mitigate being “victimized” by the soon to come mass exodus of their employees. People quit their jobs for many reasons, but there are a few that are mostly shared universally. These are those reasons:

Horrible Bosses/Tyrannical Management:

Even the most cushy and lucrative job can be spoiled by an “overseer”. Nothing is more depressing than a boss/bosses that act like they own the entire company AND you. Most often front line or lowest level managers are the worst offenders, being only one step above those that they manage. What’s even worse are the managers of these managers that encourage this type of behavior by either doing nothing, or acting this way themselves. I have never understood what was so hard about front line managing. The first requirement is and should  always be to represent the employees. Front line employees are the literal back bone of every company, yet they are always treated the worst. It boggles my mind. If you took a 2nd or 3rd level manager and made them work front line for a week they’d cry. This was proved by the show “Undercover Bosses”. A show where CEO’s take on the roles of front line employees for a week and fail horribly every time.  The bottom line is that everyone should treat others as they would like to be treated, especially those in management. If you have ever asked or required something of your employees that you would not do, then you are a horrible manager and you should reevaluate your management style in a hurry. Because if the majority of your team quits today, it will be you on the front line filling in the gap. And your manager, if they are smart, will begin to scrutinize why it happened.

Unsuitable Work Environments

While in the Air Force I worked in an office where the temperature was always a few degrees from being unbearably cold. It angered my fellow workers and I to no end. One of the times that we raised the issue we were told in response “we have to keep the temperature here so that the computer equipment will not overheat”. Which meant to me that our managers valued the computer equipment more than they valued me. But the equipment is only as good as it’s users.  Mean while the back office had it’s own thermostat that was adjusted regularly to keep our bosses nice and comfy. If only employers truly understood how much productivity would improve if their employees were more comfortable. I have worked in “secure environments” for the last 7 years of my life. There is little, to no face to face customer interaction, yet there are still attire guidelines. Why? Who are we dressing up for? Each other? Understandably, attire choices say a lot about a person out in the world. But at work, appearance should not matter if you are not a “forward facing” employee. At my current job numbers are king. People even cheat the system to “get their numbers up”. There is no reason my fellow employees and I should be asked to dress business casual. Aside from attire, there are many concessions that can be made in a work place. If a company has an issue with employees taking long lunches, then it would make sense for that company to eat the cost of providing lunch a couple times of week. The cost of the provision is easily less than than the opportunity cost of lost productivity. The same goes for internet usage. Most employers are stringent about the use of social media sites, news sites, and any non-company related site while on company time. When the reality is that people are not robots. You’d be hard pressed to find any person that could stay completely on task 8 plus hours a day. It is widely accepted that the best model for continued productivity is the 50/10 rule. 50 minutes of work supplemented by 10 minutes of  break.  I was unsuccessful in locating the original study that proved this. I do not understand why corporations are so reluctant to adopt this model, but they ultimately pay the price in the form of opportunity cost. Instead, we have all become experts in making ourselves look busy or hiding our downtime.

Unrealistic Metrics/Goals

At a point in time in my life I was a Cable/Internet installer for a Fortune 500 company. One of the metrics that we were required to meet after only 6 months of employment was to finish installing or repairing a home in the time allotted 100% of the time. Did you read that? 100% of the time. The sheer idea of being able to do anything with 100% efficiency is laughable. Not to mention that the times allotted  were unrealistically short and based on perfect condition scenarios. While the upper echelons of management stated that this metric was only a “goal” and not a real metric, our performance evaluations were mostly based on this “goal”. If we didn’t meet it we were placed in “performance improvement” programs and scrutinized regularly. Needless to say most people learned to beat the system. Our “top performers” would have 150% plus efficiency. That in itself should have let the powers that be know that there was something wrong. Unrealistic metrics and goals may at first seem to be “ever inspiring”, but in actuality they hurt more than they help. When people feel that a goal is impossible, they give up and stop caring.

Low Wages

A lot of times companies “low ball” you just because they can or because the industry is leaning in the employer’s favor. Whatever the reason, again the employer pays more than the employee. No one in their right mind will “go out of their way” for pennies on the dollar. I am currently in a situation where my employer wants to push more responsibility on me, in exchange for nothing. Absolutely nothing. I have had to tell them no on several occasion too. They keep trying to get me to believe that the “opportunity for increased visibility” is worth the significant increase in responsibility. I called bullshit. No opportunity is guaranteed. Especially seeing their habits of preferring to hire from outside as to avoid paying the company mandated 5-10% increase for promotions. People work for money. Not because we need something to do during the day, or because we love to serve under others. We need money to survive. The universal constant of work-pay exchange is for companies to get the most work out of employees for the least amount of money, and for employees to get the most money out of employers for the least amount of work. When the constant is unbalanced on either side employment ends.

In an economic downturn employers seem to forget that they need employees. Employees cling to their jobs as employment is scarce and hard to come by, tolerating things that they would not usually. In the end, however we never forget how we have been treated. At the first viable opportunity to leave, we jump. Should it be this way? No, I would love to work for a company for 30 plus years like my parents’ parents did, but the companies have forgotten that their 2nd most important asset is the employee, the first being the customer. Therefore we, as employees, have stopped being loyal. The work-pay constant is turning in favor of the employees due to the slow economic rise and employers will be reminded.


© Stephen R. Freshley and wordbending, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephen R. Freshley and Word Bending a secret but not so secret blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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