There is a ‘waging war’ on Twitter about employees who seem to have a ‘bad’ attitude towards their work and the cause possibly being an unkind work environment and not being paid well. I tweeted the following in response:
If you are an employer, create an environment that allows your employees to work with dignity and live with dignity.
If you are an employee, create a consciousness that allows you to work with dignity and live with dignity.
After sharing the tweets I began to think a bit more about this ‘waging war’ and why it seems we have a problem on our hands that may exist for a painstakingly long time. I proceeded to thread some #wagenwar tweets later on, ahead of a planned Twitter chat about the issue to be moderated (or refereed) by WE-Change at 6:00PM today (October 21, 207).
See thread below.
When we ask employers to pay well, we have to recognise that there is no one standard for being paid well. Even if we look at the ‘going rate’ for renumeration for a post, we will always notice a scale – and sometimes it’s a wide scale.
We also have to be careful how we broadbrush employers. We often don’t think about poor employers. Poor employers sometimes have to struggle to make ends meet. Poor employers sometimes can’t pay well, and that’s part of the reason I support things like a Guaranteed Minimum Income to be paid by the state.
We also need to recognize that we have to do a better job at educating our people about their rights and responsibilities as employees. And we have to do a better job at educating people about their rights and responsibilities as employers.
We cannot expect that businesses will thrive in 2017 and beyond if employers don’t treat employees with dignity. We cannot expect that businesses will thrive in 2017 and beyond if employees don’t work with dignity and live with dignity.
The world is different. Very different. And millenials and those older than them have more informed expectations at work. I’m not talking about millenials who are lazy. I am not talking about other generations of lazy people. I am talking about people who work and work well.
If you hire someone and discover they are lazy, you run interventions with them and if they are still underperforming, let them go. When people work and work well, we need to ensure we sustain a healthy work environment for them, and that also includes paying them as well as we can.
I find that because we romanticize struggle as older people, we like to think that struggle must be a part of people’s lived realities. Struggle does not need to be a part of our realities. It just happens to be a part of many of our realities.
But we shouldn’t romanticize struggle.
We equally shouldn’t romanticize luxury. We need to learn to live within our means and practice frugality.
If you are not paid well, why would you buy a Samsung Note 8, when you can only afford a Samsung Note 4, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you attend Sunrise Breakfast Party instead of I Love Soca, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you play Mas with Frenchmen and not FameFM, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you have lunch at Burger King and not at Juici Patties, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you by a Meal Deal at KFC and not a Chicken Box, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you buy a Honda and not a Toyota, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you buy Grace food products and not Lasco food products, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you rent a J$30,000 apartment and not a J$15,000 apartment, then complain?
If you are not paid well, why would you buy new clothes monthly and not quarterly or annually, then complain?
If the job you currently have, does not afford certain luxuries, don’t attempt to live in luxury. Attempting to live in luxury on a small cheque will serve to frustrate you and negatively affect your job performance.
If you believe you are worth more than what you are being paid, talk with your employer. If your employer is not willing or able to pay more, talk about some benefits, and talk about lessening your work hours – you can get a part time job elsewhere.
And if you work in an environment where you feel powerless as an employee, and you can’t talk with your employer, consider additional employment. You can also be creative and make the work environment one that enables you and your colleagues to work with dignity until you can leave.
Employees and employers have a role to play.
Employers cannot continue to think that it is okay to milk every last effort out of employees, yet they are not willing to milk every last dollar to pay said employees well.
Employers must recognize that while profit is their aim, it can’t just be monetary profit to line their pockets.
Employers must be creative and considerate and ensure that all their employees feel valued and worthy.
Employers must ensure that the work environment they create fosters growth and considers employees’ welfare.
Employers must recognize that an unhealthy employee cannot function at their best. And that if employees don’t feel valued and appreciated it may affect their brand and bottomline.
Employers must recognize that employees spend about 1/3 of their entire day in the work environment, so it needs to feel like an extended family.
Employers need to recognize that their best ambassadors are satisfied and appreciated employees, who will speak highly of them if they treat their workers with dignity.
Sometimes employees just want to know that their employer cares.
And before I wrap up this thread, I will say to employees who work for businesses that are listed on the stock market – buy shares into the company. Sometimes, as a poorly paid employee at a listed company you would be surprised at how much you can earn by buying into the same company that doesn’t pay you well.
I think employees and employers can, and must do better. And I hope I live to see the day when we all will.
We need to create a culture and consciousness of dignity in the workplace.