Re: Like long hours?

Subject: Re: Like long hours?
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 00:15:16 -0700 (PDT)

--- Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> wrote:
> Andrew Plato wrote:
> In other words, employers are pressured to be fair. But there's no
> "must" about it, since, as you say,not all employers act this way.

Well, if they are not fair they get hit with lawsuits and bad press. But what
happens to consistently under-performing employees? They just keep lying their
way around getting job after job. And they always have an excuse why their last
employer didn't cherish them more appropriately.

> > When an employee is unsatisfied with their employer, they slack off, screw
> > around, steal office supplies, bad mouth the employer, and quit without
> notice.
> > And if the employer fires them first, they get a scumbag lawyer and sue the
> > company, resulting in even more costs for the employer. Now, not all
> employees do
> > this - but it is certainly condoned and encouraged in some circles.
> Yes, there are dishonest and unscrupulous employees, but the fact is
> irrelevant to the general power relationship. A dishonest employee can
> inconvenience an employer, yes. But an unscrupulous employer can destroy
> an employee's life. And those employees who are honest and scrupulous
> don't have many ways of dealing with an employer who doesn't have those
> values.

That's not true. A dishonest employee can destroy a business, especially smaller
businesses. And when you work in security issues (as I do) you quickly realize
how much power an individual can have to cause widespread damage to their

With a few downloads and a click of a mouse, a semi-technically savvy person
could render most corporate networks to a sludgy mass of worthlessness. That
makes my honesty very important.

I have concrete examples (that I cannot discuss in detail, sorry) of a single
dishonest employee virtually wiping out his employer thanks to theft, lying, and
hacking. And that employee is working at another firm living a normal life while
his former employer is strapped with debts and losses due to this problem. Now,
if they're lucky they can convince the police to arrest this guy for theft. But
it will be hard to prove that he did the damage, since he covered up his tracks
very well.

> But in passing, I should add that there's nothing wrong with bad
> mouthing an employer. Surely you're not going to claim that employers
> never bad mouth employees?

Bad mouthing is bad across the board. When I hear people BM their employers it
makes me really question their professionalism. But, for employers you can be
sued by mean ex-employees if you BM them. Whereas a company could not (easily)
sue a former employee if the employee BM'ed them.

> My position is really this:
> 1.) Both employees and employers have the right to bad mouth each other.
> It's called freedom of speech.
> 2.) An employee who doesn't focus on work is dishonest.
> 3.) An employer can reasonably ask for overtime in special
> circumstances, such as a project deadline.However, if an employer
> operates on the assumption that employees should regularly put in over
> time without compensation, then generally the employer is exploiting
> employees, is seriously understaffed, or needs to reorganize - often all
> three. Just as importantly, the employer is acting against his or her
> best interests, because too much over-time tends to reduce productivity
> and imagination, and to sour relations with employees.

Okay, I can generally agree to those concepts Bruce. My only take is that of
environment. Some company's breed an environment where work-time is not measured
or considered. And therefore a lot of the people will work overtime. I don't
think these places should be punished because they have an environment like this.
I think there is some responsibility on the employee's part to make sure the work
environment suits their needs.

Also, some companies, when they are hitting the skids, will start making overtime
a requirement. I agree with everybody else that is lame. It also is a really
bright warning sign to start looking for a new job. However, I don't think a
company should be punished for doing this. In a sense, by making unreasonable
demands on employees a company will punish itself.

Nevertheless, it could also be argued that ANY increase in work load will be
viewed unacceptable by some folks. And

> > "The Man is out to get me." is a lot easier to understand and handle than
> "they
> > have something I want, and I have something they want, how can we trade this
> such
> > that both parties are happy."
> This is where the relation is unequal. An employee has no choice except
> to trade labor for the money to live. But an employer has the power of
> deciding who gets that money.As a result, employees often feel the need
> to kowtow to the employer - either because the employer actually expects
> it, or because they are nervous about keeping that money coming in.

Well, that's a personality issue not an employment issue. A firm that basis its
employment on intimidation is likely to suffer from a lot of backlash. But, its
not really the employer's fault that people feel un-empowered. People need to
empower themselves. It isn't corporate America's responsibility to make sure all
American's are fully actualized individuals.

Actually, employees trade a lot more than labor. They also trade experience,
expertise, commitment...etc. And they do have options. Nobody said you had to
give 100% of your effort if you don't feel you're being paid for your expertise.
But, that has consequences...just like everything.

> Decent employers do try to balance their needs against those of
> employees.But they can't do that by pretending that their interests and
> employees' interests overlap completely. Nor can they simply ignore the
> inequality and pretend it's not there; they'll either be perceived as
> insincere or else become ineffectual because they are ignoring their own
> needs (I speak from experience here).

When it comes to needs, you can generally address this by simple analysis of the
situation. If I need to have a lot of extra time off, then I need to make sure I
find and employer who understands this need and can offer it to me.

Every decision we make to suit our needs has an impact on our lives. If you
decide that you want to live in cave, well there are some consequences to that spiders in your shoes. Its not the spider's fault or even the
cave's fault that you don't like spiders in your shoes. You made the decision,
you have to find a mechanism to cope with the consequences.

> > Therefore, I think a lot of folks ALLOW their employer to run (ruin) their
> lives.
> > When an individual accepts that he/she has power to control his/her
> environment
> > and make choices that can better him/herself, he/she can begin to take full
> > control over his/her destiny. In a sense, this strips the power away from
> anybody
> > around the individual.
> This sounds good, but it ignores the fact that people need a job. In
> good times, people can walk away from a bad situation - but, even in
> good times, many people don't have the courage to do so. In bad times,
> even those with courage may think twice.

This gets back to the relationship problem. If you in a bad relationship with a
person, who is really at fault? Likewise, if your relationship with your employer
is going bad, then who is at fault? You because you allowed yourself to be
manipulated or the employer who just trotted along and took as much as you were
willing to give?

I feel that both parties have responsibilities. And both parties have to belly up
to the table when things go sour.

> > I think this is a very narrow view. If you see yourself as "merely having a
> job" then you will be treated as "merely an employee."
> I agree.Moreover, I think that the view encourages mediocrity.But,unless
> I'm mistaken, that's the way that most people view their employment.

And that's too bad, because mediocrity can be terribly un-fulfilling.

> > Not necessarily. Management has a lot more at stake.
> To risk not being able to feed your family or having the bank foreclose
> on you is to have about as much at stake as it's possible to have.
> Very few employees have golden parachutes to solace them during
> unemployment, either.

True. But, you could argue that executive golden parachutes are a "reward" for
sacrificing their lives for the company. Most executive types are obsessive
workaholics. And therefore, they have ... to some extent ... earned perks. If you
strive for mediocrity, you get mediocre safety nets. if you strive further you
get a better net. Its just the gulf between here and there is pretty wide and
requires a level of sacrifice most are unwilling to endure.

Don't get me wrong, however, there are plenty of "silver spoon" executives who
never did a damn thing in their life and live posh, un-deserving lives. A certain
president of a large North American country comes to mind.

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Re: Like long hours?: From: Bruce Byfield

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