Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ethics on the Job

There is some discussion occurring on some blogs that I frequent about the current bout of lay-offs in the work environment. These blogs refer to other blogs and the discussion becomes somewhat muddied and difficult to follow. However, I've read enough across the blogs to have come up with something to say on the subject.

If anyone reading this wants to follow along (if it's even possible) here is where to go:

The Greedy Goblin

Tobold's MMORPG Blog

Broken Toys

In short the discussion goes from one party lamenting the current lay-offs while another party explains, in pure economic sense, that the lay-offs are justifiable and that the people affected have brought it upon themselves, while the third party says both views hold merit.

I'm left to wonder, where do I stand?

I was laid off for over nine months.

I just happen to live in the city with the worst unemployment rate in the country. The state itself is among the top contenders.

I was one of those guys who had a lot negative things to say about well fare participants, but I did try to keep an open mind. Some people can't help where they've found themselves due to tragic accidents or unforeseen illnesses. I also understand that some businesses can't help their issues either due to natural disasters or corruption from within.

But then I suddenly found myself on the job hunt. I often ask myself if I can try harder or if my circumstances could have been avoided had I performed better. After all, my company is still operational. I do recall that my two hour drive every day was starting to wear on me, but I felt as though my hands were tied. I could not afford to move and any job closer would pay less.

Yes, I chose to take a wife and four home-schooled children so my budget has always been tight. But was it fair for my company to experience 4 years of rapid growth and huge profits that saw it go from 20$ million when I started to over 50$ million when I left and only give two small pay increases in that time? I think it could be argued that I had nothing to do with the increased sales. I also had little to do with the quality and nothing to do with the design process of the product.

For a time I had a tremendous amount of company loyalty. But something happened along the way. I saw how much MORE the executives were making every year. I saw their new cars in the parking lot (while I could barely afford to keep my 15 year old car running). And in the four years of massive profit gains, I received about one dollar more an hour. This minute pay increase over a four year period does not make up for cost of living increases.

Some would argue that a business must meet its bottom line at all costs. I would agree if those businesses were attempting to hold a steady profit. But that is not the case with most businesses. They want MORE and LARGER profit every year. My company was not satisfied with growing from 20-50 million. They demanded 60 million for the following year.

There is something wrong when a company slashes man power and makes the remaining work force work ever harder to achieve MORE. It is not a matter of survival, it is a matter of consumption. How much effort and time can they consume from the work force? A business is like a hungry beast with a stomach that has no bottom. I can eat two sandwiches for lunch and be satisfied to eat two more for tomorrow's lunch. A business must eat ever more.

No comments: