Monday, April 20, 2009

There's nothing like a recession to make you feel three-feet tall again

I think we can all agree that the credit crunch, recession, economic downturn—whatever you care to call it—is bad news and makes for lean, even despondent, times.
But one of the worst aspects is that for those still lucky enough to work for companies that have thus far survived, their employee rights start to evaporate into thin air.
Because a business knows that jobs with commensurate salary schemes are very rare these days, they can screw with you as much as they like. They bank on the fact—forgive the horrible pun—that you no longer have much freedom or choice to tell the boss or management to stuff themselves and look for work elsewhere if you feel their rules are too stringent. If you're settled in your job with a comfortable wage, you're likely to stick it out, no matter how unhappy you are with how hard-line the business you work for has become.
It doesn't help that the operations manager of our work is an uptight, forthrighteous cow who apparently is a great fan of the book Brave New World, but since her tenure started last year—which co-incides with the start of the recession—she has reduced our vacation entitlement, clamped down on breaktimes, introduced a dress code (where none existed before), instituted punitive tardiness rules, and put forth more demanding guidelines on both work quality and quantity that we are expected to produce. I wouldn't be one bit surprised if they suddenly announced that we were expected to wear three-piece suits and bow before a picture of her upon first entering the office, with CCTV cameras aimed at us to make sure we do.
The fact that the management doesn't care at all that working nights is different from day work, and thusly should operate on a different level, isn't the only affrontery. I honestly feel like I'm in grade school again, not trusted to be an adult who gets on with his work. That used to be the case, and the place still ran like clockwork, but those were, in retrospect, halcyon days. Now we are all being treated like rowdy schoolchildren who shouted obscenities at recess—which is exactly how I've come to think of our "breaks" these days—and who pissed in the water bubbler one too many times.
In fact, I can't recall ever having worked for a company—here or Stateside—that had a holistic approach to their workforce, that treated them with a level of respect that would ensure mutuality, the sort of workplace that made you happy and proud to be there. Apparently, such places still do exist, but it must be like winning the jackpot to be hired by one.
Instead, most offices remain totally oblivious to the fact that a miserable workforce is a non-productive one. Being told that we should be grateful for the salaries we continue to earn is not good enough. That's the whole goddamned point of working, isn't it? I want to be treated like the nearly 40-year-old man that I am; I don't think that's asking too much, but in these dark times, it obviously is.
I resent companies getting all their own way at the best of times (I am not one to complain about a bit of regulation), but the fact that they can stomp over the rights and sensibilities of their employees when the going gets tough is extremely maddening. Add the fact that you can't do jack-shit about it and it's an even more compelling reason for the anger we're all feeling.
I guess we never truly leave school when we grow up.

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