I don’t know if you’ve checked the unemployment rate lately but as of September, the US was sitting at 7.8%. However looking at some people’s work ethic these days, you’d think we are still in the midst of the Clinton glory days because to put it mildly, good help is hard to find.
I shouldn’t even say help because unless you’re volunteering no one who is receiving compensation for their services is helping anyone. They are being paid to do a job and unless that job is done to the satisfaction of the one compensating for it, then said employee has not in fact done their job. You would think that would be a simple enough concept to grasp, but for some reason people tend to think it’s their employer’s job to work for them rather than the other way around.
Chatting it up with a few editors from time to time, I’m always amazed at the mindset of the freelance writers they work with. From weekend editors who are upset that work interferes with their weekend (did you catch the irony?), to sporadic contributors who don’t appreciate the lack of creative control they have, to writers who don’t understand why they should have to pitch anything or turn in assignments on a certain date, everyone seems to forget that as a freelance writer you are your own boss in a sense, but you still work for someone else. That means you have to play by their rules – if you want to keep receiving a paycheck of course.
But this isn’t just a freelance situation either, even full-time, 401K-having, name on payroll status employees think they’re untouchable. At a previous job there was a man everyone was convinced must have had dirt on everybody in management because he literally did everything but work – at work. When I say everything I mean play his guitar at his desk (and just so you know I wasn’t working at a recording studio this was publishing office). He went on daily hour-long runs and walked from his desk to the bathroom in nothing put a white undershirt, running shorts, and knee socks to change clothes. He clipped his finger- and toenails on a weekly basis causing us to constantly ask how many fingers and toes does he have; and on top of it all he was noticeably intoxicated on a daily basis. Everything about him screamed “fire me” yet there he remained on a daily basis just as comfy as he could be while millions of Americans sat discouraged behind computer screens wishing they could be in his position.
I’m not naïve to the fact that some people genuinely hate their jobs and have no desire to impress the higher-ups or even move up the corporate ladder. That I don’t mind. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with power and being burnt out from being overworked and underpaid or simply being comfortable in your mid-level position is your prerogative. What I do have a problem with, though, is people who expect so much from their employer – time-off considerations, raises, promotions, flexibility to handle certain projects or responsibilities with less oversight – without doing what they’re supposed to do in the first place, i.e. their job.
When I was freelancing, I was probably one of the thirstiest writers around for those six months. Without a set paycheck I knew the only thing that could guarantee money to pay my bills was my being available for assignments and doing them well when they were given to me. I was in grind mode and my number one priority was to fulfill the expectations that my editors bestowed on me and make their lives easier, not argue that things should be done my way. After all, if they had to fix my work or do it for me, what did they need me for? Unfortunately, the attitude from so many employees, permanent or not, seems to be that they are irreplaceable and should be treated as such. Again I’ll ask the question in the title of this article, have you seen the unemployment rate?
Ratchet as it may be, for some reason Mase’s line in “Been Around the World” keeps coming to mind when I think about this lazy entitlement conundrum: “Now trick what? Lace who? That ain’t what Mase do. Got a lot of girls that’d love to replace you.” A more appropriate lyric might be Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” line, “Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable,” but you catch my drift.
There are too many people crying in the unemployment line and dying for a chance to impress someone on the job for there to be so many obvious and frequent instances of people simply taking their employment for granted. I blame HR bureaucracy for some of the foolishness because it really shouldn’t take nearly as long as it does to hire the right person and fire the wrong one but rest assured just like what’s done in the dark always comes to the light, just because some people are skating under the radar now doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Eventually unemployment will catch up to these folks who clearly don’t really want to work – or worst come to worst their coworkers will take ‘em out. :)
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.