Your employer only has a few ways to keep you doing what you do for them.
- Offer money, but this only works if you need it. The more you need it, the more control they have.
- Inspire you.
- A balance of these, which shows up as “engagement” or other terms – i.e. the work is interesting, makes a difference in the world, you feel like a needed part of a team you admire, etc.
Finding great employees to work for cheap is difficult.
Good ones leave, moving up the chain, if not provided with true advancement opportunities.
Solution? Keep ’em a little bit broke, so they need the money.
Recently, REI came under fire for the disparity between some romantic ideal that people assume or observe in the store – specifically, that rugged late 20’s guy who’s out kiteboarding and mountain biking when not at the store, or that hip 20’s girl who surely must be teaching rock climbing in addition to working there.
The truth is a bit more gritty according to actual employees.
In the end, capitalism includes a war between capital and labor. The war is over: Capital won.
Wal-mart has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders, and money can flow to stock holders or employees, but not both.
For low end “brute force” jobs like retail, the employer secretly wants you broke, and getting your health insurance from the government, not them. It’s pretty difficult to keep someone in retail inspired about how their service in housewares is truly making the world a better place.
The problem is money only works if you’re motivated to get it. Most people just want to pay their bills, have a few good times on the weekend, have a house and some basic material possessions… but for many, if they had all that gifted to them, and a magic trust fund of a few thousand a month suddenly endowed on them, would they continue to work … in retail?
Cleaning up baby vomit in aisle 12?
They need someone broke for this who won’t complain and will get the job done, until robotics can reliably do the job for cheaper.
Can you fault the employer?
Fortunately, there’s a solution out of it: if you’re working a “low end” job, move frequently and strategically. Retail’s fine – if you learn about some business you actually want to be in, and move up. Change jobs every six months until you’re happy. Some employers will tell you they want 2 years.. well, you want a career. Your on-going employment is a daily transaction – you sell your time for money (if an hourly worker).
Wal-Mart doesn’t apologize for limiting hours to 29.5, so they don’t have to pay for health insurance.
Should they? No. Why pay for health insurance when it’s so much cheaper to just get the taxpayers to do it?
Is it morally wrong? Yes.
Should it be illegal? Yes, and there’s the problem. The law – not the corporations.
We live in democracy, and while politics is often infuriating, labor has one key overlooked power it hasn’t been wielding: sheer numbers. There are a lot more workers than employers.
So why don’t people vote accordingly?