Over the years, I have worked for many different companies, from tiny start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. As I’ve worked for such vastly different companies, and observed many others, I’ve been both fascinated and disgusted to see a common theme, what I like to call The Employer vs. Employee Mentality.
As author and speaker Seth Godin would put it, the vast majority of companies seem to see their employees as nothing but cogs in a machine, easily replaced and of little real value. This can be seen at every level of almost every business, in the hiring processes, employee handbooks, management tactics, and turnover rates. So here’s the thing…why? Why is it this way?
In my experience, companies seem to have the attitude that we, the employees, should count ourselves lucky to work for them, the employer. They also seem to assume by default that we, the employees, can’t ever be trusted, and treat us accordingly. This is incredibly wrong.
Sure, employers provide employees with an income, and hopefully some benefits, which is fine…but at the end of the day, the employer is likely getting far more from the employee than the employee is getting from the employer. How so?
Well, I’ve certainly never come across a company that spends 50% or more of their revenue on wages and benefits, so right there the average company is getting more than they are giving. Add to that the fact that most employees are giving up the best years and hours of their lives, sacrificing time with friends and families, in many instances for minimum wage or little more. To me, that is truly horrible, and worst of all…it’s totally unnecessary.
Employers should be grateful for their employees, and treat them accordingly. Without employees, there would be no company, no revenue, and the attitude that employees are easily replaceable just won’t cut it much longer. Employers may have gotten away with pushing around Gen X and Boomers, but Gen Y isn’t going to take it, something numerous industries are beginning to understand (can anyone say Music, Film and Publishing?). Gen Y is composed of Linchpins, not Cogs.
So what is it that we want from employers? Freedom. Freedom to innovate, freedom of time and place, freedom from the constraints of mindless bureaucracy and worthless middle management. We want fair compensation for our efforts, not the lowest amount you think you can get away with paying. We want experience, skill and expertise to be counted as equal (if not superior) to college degrees. We want mindless tradition to disappear, and innovation and creativity to be both encouraged and rewarded. We want fear of change to disappear.
The tables have turned. The pawns have made it to the other side of the board, and have become infinitely more powerful in the process. There is a mass migration beginning to take place, a shift from employees to entrepreneurs, from followers to leaders. We are neither a passive nor a fearful generation.
If you, the employers, don’t get on-board, we will leave you behind without hesitation or regret. Today is our day, the future is our future, and we are taking control. Either learn to treat us with the respect we deserve, or face the consequences. The choice is yours.