With due credit to Fleetwood Mac, I thought I would borrow a song lyric from Lindsey Buckingham to start off a post of potpourri topics on employment and wages. Here are a few musings from this Old Fart the last day off before your Monday at work that may cause you to think differently come Friday per the song.
Why do people against increasing the minimum wage not earn a minimum wage salary? Over 70% of Americans in a recent polls want to increase the minimum wage and I listen to all the mumbo jumbo about how it will affect jobs, yet none of the speakers are making the minimum wage. There is also data that shows people will turn over less from jobs and productivity will rise. There is a great quote from a CFO in the book “The Rich and the Rest of Us” which notes that companies chase cheap labor. They always have. He notes that if they could get by without employees they would.
Have you ever wondered why companies lay people off later in the fiscal year? It is important to mention this topic next, as companies tend to lay people off when they head into performance review season with a limited budgets. By moving on higher priced people who may not be an A employee anymore and have declined to only a B or C employee, they save money from the salary budget. Plus, by moving on lower performers, they in essence are moving the normal curve of ratings but not the salary budget. What I mean by this is if someone was not performing and deserving a lesser raise, by taking that person out, they are now giving the lesser raise to slightly better performing people.
Have you ever noticed slow but steady may win the race, but usually lose the raise game? This is one of the unfair things in life that does not get talked about enough.The people who tend to get the highest raises are less likely to be the slow and steady workers who show up every day and do a good job, but not a great job. These solid B, B- or C+ employees are the backbone of every organization. They know how to get things done due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic experience. Yet, they tend not to blow the doors down, so they do not get rated “Exceeds” are “Far Exceeds” expectations. These latter folks are more marketable and unless opportunity exists internally, they will leave for greener pastures. The best thing the steady Eddies (and Edwinas) can do, is to every once in a while, look for another job for which they would be prepared to leave, and let their employer know it. Don’t play this card too often, but be sincere and ready to move if needed. Also, be wary, as your employer may have a different sense of your performance than you do.
Have you become aware that it has been the employers who have broken the loyalty contract? Let me close with this observation. We used to work in a world where loyalty to a company mattered. If you worked hard, you may not be able to buy a castle, but you could have a nice roof over your head. Maybe it is just my awareness of this, but beginning around the late 1980s when the information age truly began to heat up, analysts started predicting the profits a company might expect each quarter. My previous post spoke to this, but managing to short-term expectations caused leaders to treat employees more like expenses rather than assets. So, employees would be let go in a heart beat. Now, we are workforce of free agents. My father would have never given me the advice I noted in the previous observation as loyalty mattered and it should matter. Yet, the employers have broken the loyalty contract, so you are in charge of your career now. The employer is not.
So, where does that leave us? My advice is to do the best job you can anywhere you work and make yourself indispensable. Keep a mindset of continual development. But, always keep your resume fresh and listen and look for opportunities to grow yourself or make more money doing what you want to do. Finally, be honest with yourself. Are you good at your job because you know the intrinsic parts of the job (how to get things done in this company) or because you have extrinsic knowledge that will help you in any job? If it is more the former, be careful as you look, as you may be leaving a place where your skills are more valuable.
There is one final caveat to the loyalty equation, which is of most importance. Loyalty is more for your teammates and immediate working group than the company. The companies that are “more than profits” are able to expand this loyalty feeling, yet time and again, people will say after they leave or are asked to leave – “I don’t miss the company, but I miss my colleagues and/ or clients.” This is an important part of any decision to leave or stay, provided you have that choice.