The Harsh Reality of Today’s Work Place

My husband says that the tone of the work place is like Survivor Island. He’s an engineer who has worked in a lot of different states at various manufacturing facilities and according to him everyone is trying to see who can get voted off before they do.

I can’t help but wonder if this is in all industries now? Have reality shows put us in this posture that “team work” has been replaced with “scheme work?” Should we always be on guard all the time? Is paranoia common place in the work place? What gives?

I have a friend who is a high-end hair stylist and she says that the work place has become much more “stern” compared to ten years ago-that employers demand more but offer less.

We’ve certainly seen lots of new requirements in the last decade regarding what it takes to get through the door of a company and actually become an employee-from drug tests, to credit reports, to background checks. And now most states have “at-will employment,” which means that employment is presumed to be indefinite for both employers and employees. The unfortunate truth about this is that it produces an atmosphere of mistrust and disloyalty, and is far more favorable for the employers than the employees. In short, employees get the shaft and employers hold all of the cards!

I think that the most unfortunate by-product of these new developments is that it gives no wiggle room at all for employees to have problems or make errors. It puts people in fear for their job whenever they have anything that comes up in their life that might prove to be interference with their work. There’s no room for being human!

I can remember when it was three strikes you’re out regarding dismissal of an employee, which meant you’d give the worker two verbal warnings and one written. I recall this from when I was an Office Manager in California, and responsible for the hiring and firing of all employees. One of my employees was caught lying and stealing-she was given three warnings over the course of time to change her behavior. When all three warnings did not produce change she was dismissed, but it was only after she was given a chance to change. Fairness prevailed!

Of course I realize that many of these developments have to do with the fact that so many employees were suing their employers that it created a huge money problem for companies. In 1987 California juries ruled in favor of employees in over 2/3 of such cases and granted an average award of 1.5 million dollars. Still, I find it interesting that the United States is the only major industrial power that maintains a general employment-at-will rule. Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Sweden all have statutory provisions that require employers to show good cause before discharging employees.

I believe that the “at-will” truth silently sets an undertone in the work place, and that the Survivor Island mentality sets a dog-eat-dog overtone; which in turn make today’s workplace at the very least unpleasant, and at the most deadly because it pushes people past their limits. Work was supposed to be a blessing in every way-it’s a sad state of affairs that it has become so brutal and hard to endure. Perhaps in this new century some new laws will come forth to protect both employees and employers.

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