Sandra’s employer forced her to work in the office even after a coworker tested positive for COVID-19. They told people that long hours (read: unpaid overtime) might be needed to make up for lost revenue and that people’s effort would be remembered in the case of layoffs. Managers raise eyebrows when people put in for leave and then expect them to join meetings and respond to emails while they’re on paid time off. They micromanage her.
Still, they don’t tell Sandra how she is doing or help her to be more successful, leaving her to wonder if she is a hero or a zero in their eyes. She found out through the grapevine that her colleague Doug is making significantly more for the same job, despite the fact that she has more experience. Leadership doesn’t tell her what’s going on at the company, leaving her to wonder if the company is heading toward layoffs or not.
At Scott’s employer, things are significantly different. His boss takes vacation every year and cheerfully signs off when her staff requests it. Scott’s boss asks for his input to solve departmental problems and gives Scott the big picture. She talks to Scott about his career ambitions and gives him assignments with his interests in mind. She is too busy pursuing her own goals to micromanage Scott but is sure to let him know how much she values his contributions to the department’s success.
When Scott makes a mistake or falls short of expectations, his manager lets him know what she expects and helps him figure out how he will meet her expectations in the future. She pays him fairly, taking into account what others at his level are making so that there is a sense of equity. She encourages him to take time off to attend important family events. And she asks for his input and ideas when dealing with a tough challenge.
Sandra and Scott, friends since college, meet for lunch. Sandra looks stressed but chalks up her situation to normal work stress. But Scott shares his experience, and Sandra sees how much she has been putting up with and normalizing in her mind.
People tell us in many ways whether they care about and value us. Are we paying attention? If your employer doesn’t care about you, please don’t assume you have to put up with it because of the economic downturn. Many employers nowadays are employee-centric, understanding that a cared-for workforce is more loyal and productive.
You are a precious resource. Don’t forget it, and don’t work for those who do.
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