A number of articles recently have gotten me thinking about employment and jobs. First, the LA Times has been running a series on the changing workplace. The first part of the series looked at how the relationship has changed between employee and employer. In the past, employers wanted employees to be happy — they wanted long-term employees that were part of the family. They sponsored picnics and special events. I remember those days. Nowadays, except in certain tech industries where it is hard to get the right employees, this employer-love is a thing of the past. The goal is to get the greatest productivity out of the worker. This was explored in the second part of the series, which talked about how employers are tracking employees every move: monitoring what they do on the computer, where they go on breaks, how long and frequent those breaks are. It makes me very glad I’m not in those industries. [Of course, I do get the joy of dealing with sequester related impacts, which is why I decided today would be a great day to take as a vacation day -- my office moves tomorrow, and my mother-in-law moved yesterday]
But, of course, for those with good employers, too much can be bad also. For example, Google gives significant employee perqs, such as gourmet lunches. Alas, the IRS is now thinking about taxing those lunches as a benefit, because the lunches are provided on Google’s nickle (pre-tax), not after-tax employee dollars.
Another interesting article looked at what happened to all the secretaries. When I was at SDC in the 1980s, I truly understood the value of a good secretary. Today, many of the tasks have been moved onto the employees, which doesn’t really save money in the long run. I know that although I enjoy arranging my travel and coordinating administrative stuff, it isn’t what they pay me for and it would be better in the long run to have office staff to do it.
[ETA: Dimensionm on LJ also highlighted this article about workers in Texas. Construction is booming, but the workers are paying the price. Working conditions are dangerous, and workers are subject to abuses such as not being paid for all hours worked, not being paid overtime, and/or not being paid at all. Employers also often classify workers as contractors to avoid taxes.]
[ETA: I'll note that abuses of workers is the real reason that unions were started. No, it wasn't to provide plush jobs for union leaders or to lobby politicians or to create arcane working rules. Unions were originally created to use the power of labor and the ability to stop or slow down work to achieve workplace reforms that made life better and safer for the worker. In these days of anti-union rhetoric, we often forget the good that unions did related to working conditions. Have both weekend days off? Thank the unions. Get sick days and vacation. Thank the unions. Have a 40 hour week? Thank the unions.]
Lastly, there’s the issue of lawyers. Tom Paxton once sang about having too many lawyers. It’s happened. Even at the best law schools, newly minted lawyers are having trouble finding jobs. Some lawyers are even suing their schools for promising jobs that aren’t there.
What’s the point of all this? Simple. Don’t go into a job for the money or the perqs. Work at a job because you enjoy that type of work. That’s where your joy should come from.
Music: Sweet Sixteen (Reba McEntire): “You Must Really Love Me”