The Horrible State of Employment

Two friends and I were bemoaning the horrible state of unemployment earlier, and the horrible state of how employees can be treated. One just lost out on a job he was ideal for since they were too cheap to pay him his worth; the other is unsure what's next. 

Sound familiar? I have a feeling similar conversations are going on quite frequently. What does this mean for the future of employment and for the next generation?

I grew up hearing that company loyalty no longer existed. My parents were the beginning of that change and they both have several layoffs and restructures under their belts. My husband and I do too.

If I had been able to foretell the future, I would have chosen to go into finance or HR instead of publishing or operations. These are skills that will always be in demand and they can't be totally outsourced. I could have used them in the publishing industry and then more easily transferred them to another. 

I tried to share this lesson with my son but am not sure how much of it stuck. I hope seeing our struggles will have taught him something. 

Another friend was bemoaning having been taught to follow her passion and now having to reinvent herself since her passion wasn't paying the bills. I explained the formula I keep reading about (and wrote about): find the intersection between your interests, your strengths, and what the world will pay for. It won't matter how good you are at something and/or how passionate you are about it if no one will pay you for it.

Where does that leave us? Trying to find that intersection at a company that won't treat us like widgets and with a manager who will help us be engaged and fulfilled. And hope he sticks around.

I've written about training and testing for management as a possible solution to a part of the problem. I've written about Reid Hoffman's proposal in the Alliance and Conscious Capitalism as practiced by The Container Store. The problem is so huge that I don't think there is one solution.

Personally, I'm going to keep beating this drum and make what difference I can, even if it's small. Are you willing to do the same? If each of us takes it on ourselves not to do to others the wrong that has been done to us, maybe together we'll have thrown enough pebbles into that river.

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