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{October 4, 2012}   PS: Irony is Bittersweet

I’m not unaware of the irony of publishing my last post (Drudgery – Perks = Low Morale) following a post about receiving The Sunshine Award, but I felt compelled to write it. (Besides, clouds help us to appreciate the sunshine!) Recent conversations with coworkers, news of more layoffs (they are still happening — not all of them make the news these days), and conversations with friends concerning the job prospects of their graduating children, all led me down memory lane.

I’ve held many different jobs in my life; there were good times and bad times at each one. When the bad outweighs the good, that’s when we are motivated to move on, if we can. These days that is a lot more difficult than in times past; sometimes the bad just has to be tolerated with the bravest smile one can muster. One thing I noticed though as I walked down that lane was that the good memories I held onto are about the people I worked with and about the “perks” I experienced during that phase of my career: free movies for me, my family and friends when I worked at the movie theater; amazing book sale events when I worked at the publishing company; socializing with coworkers after work, when competition was not the name of the game and we didn’t have to make the long trek home to the suburbs. AHHH…the good ol’ days.

I’m grateful for those memories. I feel sorry for younger people who will not get to experience those things or have those memories to look back on when they reach my age. It was a snapshot in time, like a Polaroid; something outgrown and discarded by our changing culture.



{October 2, 2012}   Drudgery – Perks = Low Morale

It doesn’t matter what field you are in, older workers can talk truthfully about the “good ol’ days.” Once upon a time employers wanted to encourage loyalty and wanted their workers to feel like family. In return, workers felt emotionally invested in their employers’ business and “whistled” while they worked. It was symbiotic —¬†win-win. Legendary blessings called “pensions” rewarded workers for their loyalty and investment in their jobs. At that time, beautiful mythical beasts called “perks” were prevalent in the workplace: aka employee appreciation days, softball games and cookouts, discounts on company products or “field trips” like being able to work outside the office for a day at a company conference or event. Workers felt proud to wear those company t-shirts.

Did employers truly understand how important those treats were for their workers’ productivity? They seemed to, but maybe they didn’t; all that faded into history with the Recession. Employers don’t want to keep the old horses around anymore; they eat too much without providing enough present value. Heaven forbid they should care about them as anything other than a breathing copy machine or computer. What is the true value of morale? Does anyone really think the bean counters can truly figure that out?

Those who are employed now keep their heads down and try to do their jobs quietly, while they live in fear of making a mistake lest they be tossed out with the trash. Do they bring energy, a spirit of teamwork, a desire to volunteer for something outside their jobs’ parameters out of a feeling of goodwill towards their employer? Not likely. And I know this because…? I listen to the conversations in the cafeteria accompanied by furtive glances; I hear the swearing and sighing over the cubicle walls. My husband says the time wheel will turn back toward the worker; these cycles or eras in time do pass.

Is there stirring and creaking happening now? Some employers are desperately unsuccessful at finding workers with the skill sets they need. Do I have any pity? It doesn’t seem to occur to them that some of these jobs are excruciatingly mindnumbingly boring and without “perks” and appreciation, no one has any desire to do them. Money is not enough. If you are going to be miserable, isn’t it better to be miserable with less stress?

I know it isn’t healthy to live in the past or in a dreamland or a fairy tale world, but I can’t help but hope that employers will have an epiphany and the workers will be woken from their nightmare soon. I hope the Occupy movement helps turn the wheel in the right direction…back to a hopeful future.



et cetera
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