“You Should Be Happy To Have a Job”
I cannot stand it when I hear people telling me that employers hold employment over the heads of their employees, with lines like, “You should be happy to have a job.” Let’s get this straight: companies make money with employees. Design is a service-based industry, where employees perform a service, and where the employer charges many times more what is paid to the individual employee. In addition, there is equity in valuable employees that keep clients coming back.Just like “you are what you eat,” a company is who it hires. Companies should make careful decisions about which people they hire, only selecting the right candidate for the job. The candidate should be able to do the job well in return for compensation. If the job is not done well, then it is time to take action: communicate that the job isn’t up to par, offer more training to the employee, move them to a more suitable position, or let them go. That’s the system that drives the workforce.The skills of the employee make money for the company, and the company returns the favor with salary and benefits. It’s a two-way street. If an employer thinks that they are doing employees a “favor” by employing anyone, then they are employing people for the wrong reason. If you are are an employer and you’ve found yourself saying this: STOP. This is one of the most toxic things you can say to an employee. It not only shows the lack of appreciation for the skill of the employee, but it shows an ignorance for the reason of hiring someone to do a job. If you don’t value what an employee does for you, then why did you hire them?
“I Hate Working Here”
If you hate your job, then it’s time to leave. If you can’t leave, then you should appreciate why you are there, why you are so dependent on it, and get yourself an attitude adjustment. But, being the “I hate this place” person is poison for the morale of a company. Just like enthusiasm is contagious, the same goes for negative energy. One person starts saying this, then more and more start saying it. Then content employees hear the whispers of discontent and in turn also become dissatisfied. Who wouldn’t hate working at a place with a bunch of miserable employees? In fact, I’ve been there myself. So, in short don’t be “that person.” If you are saying this, it’s time for an attitude adjustment or a new job.
Be the positive energy that your place needs. It is also contagious, and makes for a much better place to work.
The Spoiled Employee & The Free Lunch
“Burgers again for lunch?” Come on people. Some places order lunch for their employees. Personally, I am against catered lunch. First, you should get a break. Just take a break. I remember working at Blur when it was in Venice, CA and I was the only person that would take a break and walk to the beach. I guess growing up in the cold midwest will make it seem that much more exciting. But, walking and stretching your legs will do wonders for your health. Speaking of health, eating a high calorie lunch every day will do nothing for your health other than ruin it.
I tend to bring my lunch. If I do order, I try to keep the calorie count down by ordering something vegetarian.
My second problem with the free lunch is that it establishes an uncomfortable class structure between those that fetch, serve and tidy up after lunch, and those that receive it. I’ve seen several instances where an employee will treat the poor souls serving lunch like wait staff: complaining about their order, requesting condiments, etc. I know there is a structure to how things work: management, senior staff, assistants, etc. But, treat please treat your co-workers like your friends, not your servants.
Third, somehow this privilege of a free lunch gets overlooked and treated, somehow, like a burden. I’ve heard this way too many times: “Oh no, that place again.” If you need a reminder, about 800 million people go to bed hungry every night. If you want to complain about getting pita sandwiches too often, you need an attitude check.
I don’t care if you are the most in-demand editor or motion designer on the planet — if you do get a free catered lunch — be humble about it. Order something small. Thank the person that brings it to you. Clean up after yourself. Realize that you are very lucky to have this privilege.
The Rumor Mill
Every company has rumors that go around. The more widespread they are, the worse the communication is within the company. As the saying goes, “Communication is worst in the communications industry.” We are always so busy communicating the ideas of others, that we forget to talk to each other, or don’t think that it is necessary.
When I was staff, I remember the circulating rumors about potential bad news. Sometimes companies fall on hard times, that’s inevitable. A company I was with had an open house one week, launching a new web site, logo, facility signage, etc. The next week, it was announced that the company would be closing its doors. Talk about mixed messages! Companies should NOT let communication happen organically, or assume that people know what is going on.
How a company is going to react to bad news should be public knowledge to the staff. No matter what, there WILL be speculation. Management can either let it spread like a dark stormbutt throughout a company, or communicate what they can, even if it is bad news. A simple meeting or email with honest answers might be tough to hear, but it’s better than letting employees guess. This guessing game leads to paranoia about employees losing benefits, wages or their entire job. This often stimulates overcompensation: working late, skipping vacations, as well as attempts to “outperform” other employees in an attempt to not be on the chopping block. All of this creates a terrible work environment.
If you an employer, be upfront about bad news and how it will potentially be handled. If you are an employee, skip the rumor mill. If you didn’t hear it from your boss, then don’t spread it. If you DID hear it from your boss, then encourage him or her to tell the rest of the company.
Overtime as the Norm
I understand that, on occasion, jobs will arise that require long hours. However, some places see to make a part of the culture of the company.
If you are content with this, don’t let me stop you. But, being overworked will eventually burn you out. If you are a salaried employee, it lessens what you earn each hour. Even if you are paid hourly, working 10-12 hour days pretty much make you tethered to your job. If your life is work, eat, sleep.. is the job REALLY that enjoyable? How can you do a job well if there is little else to your life than work? Just like a good design needs negative space and contrast, our lives need the same.
Plus, once you have kids, you’ll realize that all that free time that you could have had is LONG gone, and you should have enjoyed it while you can!