Monday morning you sure look fine, but Friday I got traveling on my mind

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.

10 thoughts on “Monday morning you sure look fine, but Friday I got traveling on my mind

  1. Well done. I will always recall Lee Ioccoa ranting at one time that employees had no loyalty to the company and were only out for the money. This at a time when companies were laying off in droves, including his precious Chrysler. This also from the guy who got multi-million dollar bonuses while he was doing salary and wage reductions to his workers.

    Apple put it in a cold-hearted, yet true way several years back. They were clear that employees were only hired for the project they were working on, and no guarantee for other positions after project completions. They made it clear that “while you are here, you should be looking inside and outside of Apple for your next position.” These were visionary words for the time.

    • Apple shot straight with people. One of the great ironies in corporations is it is easier to hire an outside contractor and actually pay them more than combined compensation and benefit costs of hiring them as an employee. The company is told to manage head count, yet they have to get the work done. The following is not an isolated example, but one of my old clients asked if we could hire one of their employees as they had to let her go, and let her work as an consultant to them. They did this for a couple of years and ended up paying $250,000 per annum for this $90,000 per annum employee (comp and benefit cost). So they ended up paying $320,000 more for the same work. True story.

  2. I have always wondered why layoffs happened around Sept-Oct at my previous employer. Your theory makes sense indeed. Interesting post too. yea, loyalty doesn’t really exist any more. and I can’t say that I’ve ever felt any loyalty towards any employer. When it’s time to move on, I do without much thought to the employer really.

    • Toby, you are definitely in the significant majority now with your sentiments on loyalty. Our first loyalty must be to ourselves and families.

      I must confess, I have a background in HR and HR consulting, so my layoffs theory has a lot of unfortunate, anecdotal observation. I saw my old company do about 25 layoffs of small groups over 15 years and they almost always were during this timeframe. Plus, they handled the process poorly which others witnessed. You would think a HR consulting firm would handle it better than they did. People see what is done to long timers and think “that could be me” and start getting their resume ready. Take care, BTG

      • actually? I had a strange experience with an HR dept. recently for a job I applied for. the job was within the HR dept. and I had followed up about 2 weeks after my interview (pretty much knowing I didn’t get the job). I got no reply. so about 2 weeks after that I tried again and got simply “a hiring decision has not been made yet”. no greeting, no salutation. not only that but this person never let me know that I was interviewing with SIX people at once. goodness. anyway, as if all this wasn’t bad enough? they never even let me know that I didn’t get the job! I would have expected more out of the HR dept!! so…not terribly surprised about the way your dept. handled the layoffs.

      • The recruiting process leaves a lot to be desired. People just want an answer. No, is understandable, so why is it so hard to tell someone you did not get the job. Today, you are forced to go online to apply, but so many companies hide behind that cloak and abdicate their responsibility.

        One of my other pet peeves is when I forward a friend’s resume or their child’s resume, I encourage the recipient to let the person know if not interested or tell me. Three weeks pass and my friend calls me and I have to follow up.

        One of the problems with HR is it is not valued, funded or staffed well. The people in other cities handle HR matters and they don’t the people involved. They don’t know that it may be the supervisor who is the problem, not the employee.

        Thanks for sharing your less than productive experience. I am sorry it happened to you that way. BTG

      • well, what it did was reinforce that it was obviously not the job for me! I think the other issue has to do with the market. HR departments are inundated with so many applicants and right, they’re not staffed well enough to handle this great workload. So….I wait until the right one offers me a job 🙂

  3. Ya, for sure these days, employees need to keep their skills up and their resumes shiny and flexible.

    I’m tired of hearing what treating employees humanely will do to business. That “it will hurt business” mantra gets trotted out for each and every suggestion to improve the work environment.But guess what, employees who thought they could get more for less and sent their production overseas are finding that they threw the baby out with the bathwater. More and more of them are returning operations to the states. And if the burger flipper gets a more meaningful wage, the burger company will simply raise the price of the burger and people are so hooked on fast food that they will pay without even noticing. Just raise the wages and get over it! Grrr.

    • Linda, thanks and it needs a “grr” response. Treating employees well has been shown both here and abroad to be accretive to earnings. When I hear the opposite, it sounds like a sound byte that really is not true. I know two major employers that have class action lawsuit after lawsuit for bad employment practices – treating women unfairly, not providing overtime, having contract employees act like employees for fifteen years, etc. Their employees are made to feel like chattel. Thanks, BTG

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