Saturday, June 29, 2013

Loyalty is Missing in American Employment

Enhancing one's resume is only one part of enhancing one's career. Without genuine gratitude for one's employer, the resume' is virtually pointless.

Company offices of EZWebPlayer near Chicago
I am self employed. I pay my own taxes and provide my own benefits. But, I am gainfully employed largely because of my largest client; EZWebPlayer, Inc. Without that regular paycheck, I would have long ago become another Employee, punching a clock somewhere and rolling across the pavement twice a day like most Americans.

I completely appreciate the regular paycheck I get from my “employer” (aka largest client). I have worked with EZWebPlayer for about 9 years. All of the tasks I handle could be done by virtually anybody with my education and background. All though I do carry a unique set of skills and my history of work experience makes me a perfect fit for this situation, guys like me are almost a dime a dozen. Many years in broadcasting, lots of writing experience in advertising, and some sales background. I greased the tracks of the digital switchover by going back to school and getting a BFA in Multi-Media and Web Design from a prestigious school in the Midwest. So really, how unique am I? Not so much.
EZWP could have replaced this 55-year-old carcass long ago for someone with virtually the same skill sets and education, and paid them far less. Companies all over the country often operate that way, and they do it without apology; citing The Bottom Line as the all mighty God of decision.

But, I was loyal to EZWebPlayer very early on, probably because I learned by then the importance of loyalty. I met the CEO of the company when I was in my 40s; not in my 20’s like most college grads. So I understood to fully appreciate what goes into an agreement that culminates in me getting paid.
Loyalty to one’s employer goes beyond simply not “…biting the hand that feeds you.” It should be closer to, “The Employer is always right”. Though I am often criticized for this old fashioned and currently not favored opinion of The Employer, I am convinced that America needs a good old fashioned dose of renewed ethics on the part of the employee, not just the employer.
And here’s why I think that:
  • It is the employer’s cash that operates the business that stays operating whether you show up or not.
  • It is the employer’s wagering and gambling on his product’s viability in the marketplace that created this company in the first place.
  • If you lose your job, you can always go get another one; in this economy, hundreds of thousands of individuals do this regularly. But, if your employer loses his business, he can’t simply start a new one just like the one he lost. It takes years and sometimes decades to create viable, lasting businesses.
  • Your job provides for your family. Your employer’s business provides for dozens and sometimes hundreds or thousands of families.
  • It is your employer’s responsibility to keep the doors open and profitable. Without the business showing a profit on a regular basis, there is no business. Which, of course, means no job for you.

Labor unions served a great purpose in reforming the employer/employee relationship in this country by the leverage of collective bargaining. But, labor unions are also the source of the poor attitudes that often prevail on the manufacturing line. This working man is constantly reminded by the labor unions how important he is. But, how often does the labor union remind its members that without the business owner, there would be no labor, no union, no job.

I salute the collective bargaining that leveraged past robber baron employers into a better wage. But I condemn any system, policy or individual that works towards undermining the business owner’s ability to keep their establishment profitable.

The greatest thing that any employee can do towards his/her own income longevity is to work as hard as possible towards making his/her boss more profit. The second is to pass on this attitude of loyalty to those around him or her.

Several years ago, I managed an RV retail store for one of the largest RV dealerships in the Midwest. At one time I was approached by the lion’s share of the employees there to support their effort in a strike to get higher wages. After I stopped laughing, I explained that I did not operate that way. I thought that the best way to make more money was to bring more money into our boss’s economy.

This entire scenario occurred without any union. As far as I am aware, there is no RV Worker’s Brotherhood. So, it wasn’t the RVW Brotherhood that generated this mindset of dissatisfaction. The workers did that all on their own by observing union-generated strikes from past history in other industries.

Within several months of that un-attempted strike (there never was one), the owner fired me one day when he was in snit over something. After three years of loyal and hard work, he got mad and fired the manager of his very profitable store that I had made that way. He ended up hiring younger people and it took two to replace me. But, I still appreciate the over three years of a regular pay check that he had provided to my family; to this day. One of my best friends still works for him and makes a great paycheck doing so.

Staff and management
Pontiac RV Retail Store, in 2010
Literally thousands of RV customers from Canada to Florida and everywhere in between count on this
RV dealership on Interstate 55 in central Illinois to provide them with great service and value. And dozens of employees’ families have made a living working for this dealership from shortly after it was started in the founder’s garage to today when it takes up several acres along the freeway and possesses multiple locations in Central Illinois.

Business owners have a right to do what they want with their assets. And, the sooner that us assets learn this, the sooner we raise ourselves from mere assets to important components in a viable business.


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