Many of the stereotypes of companies are true. Companies often hire inexperienced workers for low pay, don’t train them and then wonder why they get poor performance.
Companies don’t sufficiently include their employees in the creative idea process or give attention to individual input. They continue to enforce higher production requirements with tighter deadlines – in effect, expecting a “worker bee style” from its employees to keep up with competitive needs. Staff has little promise of promotion in this time of cutbacks, and consequently no real cause for ownership, since they are simply expected to get the job done. Yet companies feel cheated if they don’t get the quality work they expect from their workers. They complain that childcare options, flex hours, appreciation luncheons, sick leave and annual cost of living increases are frequently disregarded.
Employees feel under appreciated and un-challenged and that constant complaint prevents stepping up their performance. They justify doing personal projects on company time since the hours at their jobs are often extended - never mind that it’s often due to their undisciplined and unfocused work habits. Employees feel the inequity of being asked to assume leadership roles, if it means increased workloads with little to no reimbursement incentives. Employee theft has increased, a contributor to downsizing and cutting costs due to lost revenue. Longevity and loyalty are quickly fading concepts of the past.
To guarantee results, management has needed to adopt back up systems. Divisions of quality control and customer complaint departments are needed to fix what wasn’t done right in the first place. Numerous policies and guidelines are imported, including those of fair practices and ethics. Micromanagement is implemented to double-check work product and enforce behavioral operating rules that should be a natural mode of operation for us all. Taking personal responsibility has decreased. We have backed into corners like boxers duking it out till we settle on who is to blame for the system not running more smoothly.
Does the burden rest on companies to produce more inspired, trained and challenged employees or to the employees to be more self-directed and generative? Both must share in the responsibility of improving work environments with more harmonious relationships, mutual respect and acceptance of individual and company needs. Like the proscenium arch of a theatre’s stage, if only one column gets moved forward, the arch will fall. By moving both apart at equal distance the structural support necessary to hold up the archway remains.
I hope this article starts the cycle of recognition. That is always the first step, then there is more dialogue and brave first starters. Look at Ben & Jerry’s and The Body Shop who were willing to experiment and close the employee-employer gap. But why wait for others to act on external big changes? You can implement changes now if you’re willing to stick out from the rest, generate discussions about what’s missing and possible solutions. Be one of the first to put an end to the right-wrong game we’ve all become accustomed to.